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Loss Mitigation Manager

Kendra Young, whose official title is "loss mitigation supervisor" for Mortgage Outreach Services of Richmond, Va., asks for a brief thought recollection break before she summarizes her day's work.

It is not that easy to recap a long day's busy schedule.

A mother of three, she splits her "executive authority" between office and home. I do my best, she says. It is the motto her department has readily embraced as a predicament to success in loss mitigation.

Kendra oversees a team of 43 agents, or associates, who handle between 1,500-2,000 calls a day. Three team leaders also report to her. Her job entails making sure that the associates keep the lines open and administer quality control. "One of the first things I do in the morning when I come in is go over the report from the previous day to see what the call in volume was, and what needs to be handled during that day."

She reviews reports of the total number of calls made for a servicer client and amounts of calls received. It helps compare real numbers with servicer expectations and plan ahead to fill the gaps.

Next she is busy with the daily assessment of reports filed by associates is followed by listening sessions of actual recordings from the call center "to make sure their time is well managed."

She comes in at 8:30 a.m. and stays until every daily issue is addressed. Sometimes it means until 11:00 p.m.

"We have three servicing platforms, one in California, one in New York and one in Virginia, and they are open 9 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST." To her it is self-explanatory. If the company is open, most probably her office should be open too.

Her task is to keep customer outreach at an 80% success rate, a really ambitious goal.

Mortgage Outreach Services is a third-party loss mitigation firm that works with various servicers. And these days outsourcing is a lifesaver for many servicers.

"Every morning I try to make sure that what we're doing will meet those servicers' expectations."

Many agree that the economic crisis and the Home Affordable Modification Program have changed forever the mortgage servicing industry and loss mitigation. These days mortgage professionals like Kendra face unprecedented challenges of scale and risk management.

Right now servicers are looking for efficiency. Their biggest concern is quality in customer outreach, she says. Servicer expectations are high and matched only by their customers' hopes.

"They want to know that quality work is being put out there. Our associates try to make this process as easy as possible since these customers are in a rough situation as it is."

Conversations with associates constantly revolve around how to make the first contact easy and friendly enough that callers feel comfortable to speak about sensitive topics like job loss and foreclosure risk. It is important to empathize with the customers and to show patience, but also to perform quality work when gathering the information.

Sometimes customer contact is difficult, "but we have a great group of people here," she says proudly. "I just try to make sure they are prepared to talk to customers and handle those situations."

Kendra's first, over one-year long experience in the loss mitigation field was with Saxon Mortgage, which relocated. Subsequently she found herself training with the first 14 employees hired by Mortgage Outreach Services to start operations in the area.

That was two-and-a-half years ago. She recalls how the company was so new to Richmond that the first day or two they all assisted in putting together their own chairs.

Training lasted four weeks. "I learned a lot during the first two weeks," she says.

Today Kendra is one of the trainers.

Initially call center associates go through formal training same as she did. Learning continues on the job using prepared materials and feedback from management.

"We have a training department here. Each associate goes through a five-day training class and than they spend five days on the floor in a mentoring set up with a more seasoned associate that already is on the floor. Further down the road we have our quality control department assist floor managers through phone call monitoring and by pulling reports from accounts that were previously closed."

Kendra finds that information crucial to coaching associates and providing them with additional information on the know how of their job. People are different so she tries to assist in the areas they need supplementary assistance. She has to be quick in determining what is needed to preserve communication quality with both her staff and distressed borrowers calling for help.

"We have incoming calls and downloads, it's almost like a call center environment where a computer system picks up an associate." The quality control department and floor supervisors work together in selecting what calls will be monitored. (We all are familiar with the "This call may be recorded for quality assistance" automated message.)

To stay at the top of her game she reviews servicer reports. Business-to-business relations change quite often in today's automated mortgage market.

"Sometimes there are requests and changes we have to adjust for. Servicers may send a bulletin for example. Then the training department will inform the associates about it."

Often regulatory requirements come into play.

While most of the guidelines are imbedded in the system it is her responsibility to ensure that her staff is updated on client demands.

The new Obama administration programs and other client partnerships, about which she did not want to comment on the record, keep creating demand for process updates. Such "off the record" changes relate to the fact that her company is in the process of negotiating new agreements and processes with new business partners and expanding its partnerships.

All that information prepares her for a daily meeting with floor supervisors where she updates them on information they need to deliver to the associates.

Quite a day!