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A leader in the mortgage industry discusses how putting his customers first led to a switch in subservicers

We had an honest conversation with Kevin Hobt, SVP of Post-Closing Operations at First Community Mortgage, about the multitude of challenges he and his team faced with their previous subservicer. Take a look at how First Community Mortgage’s partnership with TMS has taken their customer-centric business to the next level by being a true partner and delivering on their promise of growing happiness.

TMS: Kevin, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. What was the motivation behind switching subservicers and how long were you considering it?

KH: We were considering switching subservicers for over four years. The primary reason was really a culture mismatch. Our previous subservicer was a very large subservicer in the Northeast, and honestly, their customer service facing representatives just didn’t do a very good job of bringing our culture to our customers. We try to be a big lender with a small hometown bank type feel where you come in, shake someone’s hand and talk about the weekend and their baby. And they just didn’t have that personality. They would follow an SLA and make sure we were compliant but that didn’t correlate to good customer service and it didn’t match our culture. And we deal primarily in the Southeast and those people like to have culture, they like the fun, and they like the happiness that TMS brings.

TMS: We love that answer. That takes us right to our next question. How was your prior servicer not meeting your expectations?

KH: There were a couple of things. Culture being the first and they weren’t meeting our expectations for the client’s and customer’s experience. Again, they kept us compliant, and they tried to stay within their SLAs, but they didn’t meet them all the time. But just meeting an SLA doesn’t mean you’re providing good customer service. Some of their SLAs were 5 days and if you tell a customer we’ll get you an answer in 5 days, well that’s not good customer service. So not only was the culture not there and the customer service wasn’t good, but it progressively got worse and worse. As far as escalations and issues, they were never proactive. Everything they did was reactive. They were essentially waiting on us to tell them there was an issue and then it took an act of Congress to get anything resolved. We would follow up, follow up, follow up, re follow up and we’d have to add in the vice president, senior vice president, all the way up the ladder to see some someone take action. It was just an ongoing pitch of despair so to speak.

TMS: Those are very critical concerns, which ties directly into the next question. What were the “must haves” when evaluating your next subservicer?

KH: So that’s a good question. I looked at a lot of subservicers and we talked to five or six different players. What we needed was a subservicer with culture, our culture and better technology. We needed a subservicer that would make our customers happy, deliver on their promises, be proactive, and be an actual partner.

TMS: Why did you ultimately decide to partner with TMS?

KH: I’m a nerd and I like to analyze everything. Part of my nerdiness came out because I had a spreadsheet where I listed every subservicer and the positives and negatives of each. Positive on one side and negative on the other. TMS had the most positives versus negatives compared to any other subservicers. What really did it was when we did an office visit. We came in, sat with Ali and the team, and saw TMS’s logos, core values, colors, stuffed unicorns, and the park with the seesaw. It’s silly but I asked, “why would you have a seesaw?” And they said, “because it’s impossible to get on a seesaw without smiling or laughing” and that hit home. You can’t make this up. It’s not just a slogan on your wall, but everything TMS does is centered around those core values and growing happiness because you want to make your employees smile and be happy. At the end of the day, you’re not buying into a company, you’re buying into the people. From the top down, from Ali and everyone else we spoke to, everyone was rowing in the same direction and seeing it live in the office, that was it.

TMS: How has TMS helped your business since we became partners?

KH: This partnership already has shown that we’ve made each other better. TMS is proactive and has pointed out issues that we didn’t even realize we had. And we’ve coordinated together on some reporting issues that I found, and you guys jumped on the ball, got meetings together, were working with me, and taking my suggestions. In fact, you created a whole report that you’re making live to all your clients based on the feedback I gave. Now, that’s just huge. With my previous subservicer, it would’ve gone to them as a complaint and if anything were to be done, it would’ve been a statement of work that would’ve taken 4-6 weeks to complete. They would’ve begrudgingly done it and we would’ve had to pay for it.

With TMS, you thought it would be beneficial to give to all your clients. You’re willing to listen to us and our suggestions. TMS has given me great feedback on areas we can improve on which makes us a better company and I truly feel like working together has made each other better.

TMS: You may have just answered our next question. Would you say TMS has been a good partner to your company? If so, in what ways? Is there anything else specifically that you would want to share.

KH: Ali has been a great partner with me. I’ve emailed him at 8am CT knowing he lives in Nevada, thinking he’ll respond by lunchtime or end of business day. 15 minutes later, he’s emailing me back. I’m thinking he’s the president, I don’t expect him to answer me immediately, but he’s checked in with me multiple times. I gave him a suggestion about the onboarding process, and he thought it was great and brought it back to his team about implementing. I really feel like I have a voice with TMS. I’m not just a client that pays you. I’m a partner, I’m being heard, and I feel like I’m part of your organization. That means so much to me because we’ve never had that before.

TMS: What do you like best about our technology? Specifically, what are the biggest benefits of our leading SIME (Servicing Intelligence Made Easy) portal that you see?

KH: The biggest thing our team loves about SIME is that it’s really a one stop shop dashboard. We can access SIME in real time, listen to a phone call, look at documents that have been out, see the notes history, the pay history, and reporting. I like being able to pull reports and SIME allows me to do that with date ranges, states, or any filter. It’s really that easy.

With our prior subservicer, there were 4 different locations to access everything. If we wanted to listen to a call, we had to put in a request that can take up to 4 days, and sometimes we had to send 2 follow up emails to get that.

SIME has everything in one place. It’s super intuitive, easy to use, and not overly complicated. I’m very happy with the technology and TMS scored very high compared to all the other subservicers we looked at when it came to technology.

TMS: I know we touched on the benefit of a great customer experience and what you and FCM were looking for. What has been your observation of the performance of our customer facing teams? Do you have any comments on their experience and the experience we’re delivering?

KH: Honestly, I think TMS has exceeded our expectations. We had a situation where a borrower had a couple loans with us and under his own admission, sent the wrong payment to the wrong loan. He was upset about the mistake, and we didn’t know what TMS would be able to do to rectify the issue because there’s only so much you can do. But your team got on a call with the borrower and unraveled all the payments he made all the way back for an entire year on both loans and made it right. We couldn’t believe TMS would go that far to make the borrower happy. It’s really amazing. That was the first time I was like “wow, they’re willing to work with our customers”. TMS really looks for solutions and that’s huge.

TMS: You hinted at this already, but solidified your decision to partner with TMS? Was it the seesaw?

KH: It’s funny enough to say, but in my mind, that was a big part of it. The day we came in and actually saw the building made it all tangible. I could see it, touch it, and it was all there. You’ve got a pink unicorn on the wall! I’m sure not everybody buys into that, but it really solidified to me that TMS is different. There’s nobody else in the space that does that – focus on growing happiness or making the customer’s experience that good. Everybody’s more worried about being compliant, which TMS is, but the customer doesn’t care if you’re compliant or meeting SLAs. TMS really goes to great length to grow happiness. I wish I would’ve made the switch a lot sooner.

TMS: Last question. If you were to recommend our technology or services to your best friend, or a business partner, what would you say?

KH: Well it’s funny because I’ve already had four conversations with other lenders for referrals, so it would be the same conversation just like I’m telling you. TMS is different, it’s the culture, and it’s not out there anywhere else. I know because I’ve interviewed all of them, I’ve talked to all of them, and I’ve seen the buildings and they don’t have what TMS has. If you care about your customers and their happiness then TMS is the route to go, because otherwise all you’re going to get is a huge company that doesn’t really care if your customer’s happy or not.

TMS: That’s nice to hear. Thank you for the positive feedback and we appreciate you sharing your experience with TMS thus far. Kevin, thanks for your time today. We’re grateful for your partnership and for allowing us the privilege of servicing your customers.

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August 22, 2022