Can an old-fashioned, blue-collar roll-up-your-sleeves-type company use technology to improve its efficiency and performance?
Absolutely, says Jay A. Loeb, vice president of strategic business development at Lake Forest, CA-based National Creditors Connection Inc. The company provides field contact, loss mitigation, and onsite inspection services to lenders and servicers, mostly in the auto and residential mortgage space.
“The big change for us is having technology shape the future of what we do,” Loeb says. “Technology isn’t replacing the fact that we go out and knock on doors, but we can use technology to augment it.”
NCCI isn’t a debt collector per se. Rather, its representatives visit troubled borrowers at their homes to find out why they’re not paying. During their visits, agents also try to ascertain the condition of the vehicle. That information is then used to come up with borrower retention and loss mitigation options. The goal is to keep borrowers paying on their loans and avoiding repossession.
Mobile technology has expedited the company’s ability to report back to its servicer clients on a nearly real-time basis. Previously, in some cases, the company took as long as two weeks to send results to clients, depending upon where the borrower and the vehicle were. But demands from loan servicers and increased competition have shortened that time span to a day or less, especially in metropolitan areas.
New technology enables NCCI’s representatives to prepare collateral reports and submit them from the field as they examine the vehicle. “If they send us an account on Monday morning and on Monday night we knock on the door, they can have results back that night,” Loeb says.
The company also uses technology and analytics to help its servicer clients automate when they need to order face-to-face visits and vehicle inspections. “If the account is past due a certain number of days and there’s been no borrower contact, a call will be made to us,” he says.
Perhaps the biggest technology goal the company has is to be able to integrate its platform with those of other vendors and lenders in order to improve process flow and to create a system of record. NCCI has done this with its residential mortgage clients and is in the process of doing the same with its auto servicer clients.
In the auto finance sphere, the company’s client base consists mainly of smaller lenders and servicers, including more than 100 credit unions and about 60 independent auto dealers, as well as several subprime lenders. Its biggest client is a nationwide auto lender which Loeb says will not usually repossess a vehicle until it first attempts a door-knock.
However, Loeb says the big captive auto lenders have yet to be persuaded that in-person borrower contact is a cost-effective loss mitigation strategy, preferring to move quickly to repossess the car in order to cut their losses. He’s hoping technology and platform integration will help them change their minds.
“Integration will help,” he says. “Some lenders won’t embrace this unless they’re fully integrated with us.”