As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, borrowers are facing new financial risks. According to Black Knight, as of late November, 2.73 million homeowners were still in a forbearance plan, down from the May 2020 peak of 4.7 million. Even though the forbearance numbers continue to fall, homeowners are showing signs of distress. As a result, call volume to servicers spiked to a level not seen since last April. Lenders and servicers need to prepare for a significant increase in their workload as they help borrowers through these difficult times.
One servicer who is well-positioned to manage these unprecedented call volumes, Computershare Loan Services (CLS), partners with clients to provide an unparalleled customer experience even as homeowner inquiries continue to rise. CLS has seen first-hand how the pandemic has shifted the servicing environment and heightened the level of support clients need.
Taking the mystery out of forbearance
Due to COVID-19, many Americans have faced income loss and may be at risk of delinquency or foreclosure. The CARES Act allows borrowers to pause their mortgage payments for up to 12 months and calls for lenders and servicers to work through specific forbearance plans with borrowers who may be facing tough decisions. With no one-size-fits-all plan, lenders and servicers must support borrowers through multiple scenarios.
“We still have 50% of our forbearance plans active, with the bulk ending in February,” stated Jeff Johnson, COO of Computershare Loan Services. “Servicers must provide tools that empower their call center staff to help homeowners quickly and efficiently through the loss mitigation or foreclosure process.”
Forbearance may be providing a false sense of confidence to lenders and servicers with a majority of servicing portfolios in a low-touch mode. They may have had little to no contact with these vulnerable homeowners over the last several months and, if understaffed, they may not have the manpower to effectively reach out to borrowers and help them choose the best option.
‘A customer should never be surprised’
Computershare Loan Services’ goal is to educate homeowners on all their forbearance options, which is why they continue to invest in digital technology like interactive voice response (IVR), chat functionality, web functionality and texting/emailing. These resources help build connections between clients and their customers, without compromising the customer relationship. CLS is also a subservicer, acting as an extension of the client, so these tech investments in borrower care give clients’ confidence that their borrowers have everything they need to make the best homeownership decisions.
“We have chat functionality, outbound call and email campaigns. We also rolled out a video for borrowers coming off forbearance, which digs into all their options so they really understand what’s going on. My goal is to make sure every mechanism I have will help the borrower, because a customer should never be surprised,” Johnson said.
A proven formula for success
Lenders and servicers are being flooded with requests as borrowers make decisions on their homes, and that high call volume will only continue in the coming months. Computershare Loan Services is uniquely prepared for this scenario. With deep roots in default servicing and licenses in all 50 states, Specialized Loan Servicing (SLS), part of the Computershare Group, will step in to help clients during this historic period. “There’s no question there’s going to be a wave of defaults coming through, but I view that as an opportunity for special servicers, to help clients with contact strategies so they can better communicate with borrowers. Our goal as servicers is to make that default wave as small as possible,” Johnson explained.
“We’ve been at this a long time and it’s simply part of our culture to deliver excellent service as we support hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the lifecycle of their loans. We take that responsibility seriously and are committed to help both clients and customers reach their goals,” Johnson added.
Contact us to learn more about how CLS propels clients toward growth at each stage of their business' evolution.