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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2018

Don’t Ignore Human Interaction in a Tech-Obsessed World

Mortgage professionals need training in technology and interpersonal communication to excel in today’s industry

In a world gone digital, technology is making business more efficient, but effective personal communication still remains key. Everyone involved in the mortgage industry still needs to make the most of each face-to-face meeting and every phone call. r_2018-09_Capling_Warren_spot

Companies that invest in technology and communications training stand to benefit through the improved performance of originators, processors and other mortgage professionals. That will ultimately lead to happier customers. With so many online, national and local lending options available, there is simply no replacement for a well-trained mortgage professional. Employee development programs that have the best shot of success emphasize communication and technology that can accommodate an ever-changing environment.

Charting a path for your organization to evolve requires visionaries who look beyond programs and rates. You need to develop a training strategy that provides not only education on demand but can develop professionals who can successfully work with retiring baby boomers or first-time homebuying millennials today and prepare for where the market is headed.

Build support

Employee training or development programs should be fluid, updated regularly and allow mortgage professionals to understand how to use the technology as well as understand what is being taught. “What does it do, and how do you use it?” Those questions must be answered if a new training system is to succeed and become second nature.

Success depends on fluent teams who understand the interaction of each transaction business partner and individuals who are subject-matter experts. Their involvement in creating training material builds buy-in and increases accountability for everyone’s success.

Rigorously testing system enhancements prior to deployment is always advisable. Once rolled out, the collaborative efforts that help create training materials ensure that new tactics are utilized and effective. A blended approach can include microtraining, interactive conversational training, webinars, how-to tutorials and on-demand training. Developing training that is engaging, shorter and more focused allows for better retention of the subject matter.

Communications focus

The micro-training method supports informal learning within social interactions, outside of formal learning environments or training facilities. This process can be facilitated by well-designed and structured systems and by supporting ways of communication and collaboration, but within a short time span — only 15 to 20 minutes for each learning session.

So, if you are considering upgrading your training or employee-development programs, consider the three Ts — talk, tech and train.

Conversational training is a dynamic that works well with small interactive classes in very informal sessions, where the same group of individuals come to every class. It’s quite effective for remote training, thanks to technology. The moderator of these sessions should be an expert who is proficient in communications training and who can steer the conversation and ask questions, leading the group to a desired topic while providing insight along the way.

Because participants are engaged within the conversation, employees pay attention because they never know when they will be called on to share their thoughts. Typically, participants become more comfortable and share more as they explore various scenarios during a 10-week program. The most experienced mortgage originator can learn by comparing notes on different customer-service situations and role-playing what it feels like to be on the other side of the table.

Communication training is often overlooked, but it is vital for all departments, including underwriters and processors. Consumers have more choices today than ever before, along with hidden expectations.

Sessions can include a deep dive into defining “world-class customer service” or “dealing with difficult people.” Such training can help participants navigate different personalities and resolve conflicts, enabling them to work with clients from varying backgrounds who may need guidance on various loan programs best suited for their particular situation.

Technology enabled

A program that includes online webinars and on-demand training sends a signal that your company values its employees’ time. Gone are the days of flying everyone in for a three-day on-site training program, where “information overload” is more likely than actual retention of knowledge.

Plus, the ability to track engagement with various classes or segments and provide interactive video elements allows developers to become creative. Now that programs can be developed utilizing platforms like Adobe Captivate and HTML5, training has gone mobile, and employees can be reached on whatever technology suits them best, whether they prefer a laptop, a tablet or, thanks to responsive design of the newer platforms, even the ubiquitous smartphone.

Additionally, the decision-tree nature of the newer eLearning systems allows for more customized training. Adults are receptive to learning information in different ways. Some prefer to read and answer questions, while others engage with video segments. Providing information in the way someone learns best, and on the tech with which they are most comfortable, exponentially increases knowledge absorption.

Niche loan programs are especially suited for this type of training. With specific qualification requirements, timelines and even processes that may shift as new regulations affect specialized programs, interactive training that is updated regularly and designed in small blocks to enhance retention helps create a culture of learning and keeps loan originators current on their varied menu of mortgage products.

Flexibility key

Some training programs provide the ability to earn certifications for niche programs like renovation loans or one-time close, so consumers know the loan officer is “certified” and knowledgeable to offer those specific loans. The web-based nature of such interactive training systems allows for the flexibility needed by today’s professionals as well.

Employees can login and learn 24 hours a day, as their schedules dictate. Additional benefits of a robust online training structure include the following: It can aid in material retention, measure gaps in understanding, be used to assess team-training needs and even provide course feedback.

Providing a training system that allows mortgage originators to get up to speed on a specialized loan program at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, for example, requires a huge investment. And technology platforms of any kind cannot be built overnight. So getting it right matters. Learning platforms should be developed to reflect the linear flow of the loan-origination process: What do you need to know, why is it important and how do you navigate the process?

Development takes time. The investment of financial and personnel resources, and the time earmarked for development, requires executive buy-in. Fortunately, leading foward-thinking companies are increasingly making that investment to better serve their customers.

•  •  •

So, if you are considering upgrading your training or employee-development programs, consider the three Ts — talk, tech and train. The end result should be a well-rounded training system utilizing the most advanced technology, communications strategies and methodologies, all working together to enable a natural and efficient process to get to the closing table.

Integrated learning with easily accessible on-demand tech tools along with strategic communications training will foster a seamless learning environment for grooming top mortgage originators.


 
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