At the most essential level of human interaction is conversation. It can be the genesis of a flourishing relationship. Or the blame for a breakup.
The most fruitful conversations happen when there is true interaction — almost as if people were finishing each other’s sentences yet adding new information to the discourse. That said, the lack of fruitful conversations with new and current borrowers is hobbling many mortgage servicers.
All this comes at a time of record-breaking origination volumes last year, coupled with rising mergers and acquisitions. This has mortgage servicers expanding their systems capacity and workforces to meet growing demand. Naturally, this is driving servicing’s cost per loan to skyrocket. And it doesn’t end there.
Beyond rising costs, the industry faces other urgent challenges:
- Slow completion of virtually every request
- Low ratio of loan applications to released mortgage loans
- Rising loan abandonments and fallouts
- Costly customer acquisition, mostly due to manual processing
- Fraudulent applications stemming from manual lead qualification procedures
Meanwhile, forbearance experiences high levels of customer anxiety and frustration with a process that can be confusing and sluggish.
So, while tackling these unprecedented challenges, how can mortgage servicers build scale, boost frontline employees’ productivity and control costs while improving customer experience?
It’s Time for Conversational AI
It’s evident that reassurance, transparency, simplicity and speed are vital to the future of the mortgage servicing industry. A simplified application process, backed by reassuring customer support with all key data in hand (no eleventh-hour surprises) is what leaders must emphasize now to win new customers and keep the ones they have.
All of this is driven by engaging borrowers in productive conversations right from first connection.
That’s the aim of Conversational AI.
Today, forward-thinking mortgage servicers are deploying Conversational AI to speak with customers via chatbots, or in some instances voice bots, to respond to simpler and more repetitive requests from borrowers.
These include getting a loan balance (principal and interest), escrow distributions, title requirements and more. With AI powering an ongoing conversation for easier tasks, live agents are freer to tackle complex or nuanced requests like altering payment dates, forbearance requests, and so forth.
This combination of AI technology and live talent is faster, more efficient and more satisfying for servicer and borrower alike. It’s one-to-one contact that, over time, fosters greater customer loyalty.
Chatbots: Customers Wanted Them…Yesterday
The need for a higher level of customer engagement has never been more urgent. In its “State of the Customer” survey by Salesforce, 58% of respondents said that technologies like chatbots have changed their expectations of companies. Diving deeper, given the choice of filling out an online form or being assisted by a chatbot, 86% of those respondents chose the chatbot. 
Clearly, all businesses, not only mortgage servicers, need to catch up to this trend. Today, chatbots represent the top use of AI in enterprises, and adoption rates are expected to almost double over the next two to five years. 
Let There Be Light
Conversational AI has the potential to scan and illuminate every agent-customer interaction, in real time, across all channels. Scans can predict which agent/customer interactions are likely to lead to a negative outcome.
But that’s not all. This technology doesn’t leave agents in the lurch. It provides them with insights and tips to better care for their customers going forward.
When Conversational AI is deployed end to end, it can generate a persona for each customer that personalizes the overall servicing approach. During all conversations, both bot and live, AI listens intently to actively analyze the customer’s sentiment, intent and behavior (including emotional state). This informs an approach that best suits the customer’s state of mind during a specific interaction, in real time. After the conversation, the feedback loop closes to provide insights, train live agents and feed results into management reporting.
AI Helps Live Agents Work Smarter
Over the years ahead, as training of conversational AI machine language becomes easier, it will increase AI’s ability to assist and train live agents.
Conversational AI and chat/voice bots are proving to be an effective training asset for live agents. For example, a software application can analyze agent conversations with customers to provide feedback on improving agent performance. This can be done on an individual agent basis, better equipping each of them to handle difficult, and even routine, calls.
It’s Only the Beginning
Contact center processing incoming calls is an area in which Conversational AI is making a positive difference. Approximately 90% of companies mentioned faster complaint resolution and more than 80% reported increased call volume processing using Conversational AI solutions, according to a recent survey. 
Looking ahead, the prospects for cost savings from deployment of chatbots is bright indeed. A new study from Juniper Research on the use of chatbots in banking has found that the operational cost savings from using chatbots will reach $7.3 billion globally by 2023, up from an estimated $209 million in 2019. This represents time saved for banks in 2023 of 862 million hours, equivalent to nearly half a million working years. 
With impressive bottom-line results like those, more and more institutions are discovering that Conversational AI is more than just talk. With the power to transform and enhance the entire customer experience, not to mention profitability, its time is now.
 Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2020
 MIT global survey: 90% of companies deploy artificial intelligence in the customer journey November 14, 2018
 https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/bank-cost-savings-via-chatbots-reach-7-3bn-2023 February 2021