Visualization Adds Power to Online Communication at GMACCM

Advances in information technology have allowed commercial mortgage servicers to assemble a massive amount of data for investors and borrowers. So much so that leading lenders now worry about overwhelming their business partners.

That's why executives at GMAC Commercial Mortgage are placing a new emphasis on "visualization" in their communication, particularly with investors on commercial mortgage-backed securities serviced by GMACCM.

"We probably have a higher reliance on data than on the residential side," Niraj Patel, chief information officer at GMACCM, told MSN.

The question, he said, is how to filter those data so it best meets the needs of investors and borrowers who interact with the servicer. GMACCM relies upon two online tools to facilitate this process, Investor Query (IQ), which is designed for borrowers, and GMACCM Express Mortgage Site (GEMS), which serves the needs of investors.

The goal is to create a balance of high technology options with high-touch customer service and investor communication, Mr. Patel said.

"Since we have an enormous amount of data, we don't want to inundate them," he said. "The question is, 'How do we filter that and make it presentable in the way the investor wants to look at it.'"

By presenting data in a visual format, the information can be stratified to enhance understanding of what it means. For instance, a report about loan concentration in a CMBS deal can be presented on a map rather than a table. And GMACCM makes extensive use of charts and graphs as well to help investors see trends and issues affecting their portfolio.

That encourages knowledge-based thinking rather than just dumping information on investors, Mr. Patel said.

Borrowers also have to engage in extensive communication with commercial mortgage servicers. When commercial mortgage borrowers contact GMACCM, they are typically calling with more complicated questions than a residential borrower would have.

"The commercial guy isn't calling to ask, 'Did you get my payment.' It is usually a more detailed question about escrow analysis or something," Mr. Patel said.

The GEMS system allows commercial mortgage customers to engage in two-way communication. Not only can they obtain information about their loan account, they can also upload information, such as financial statements, that they must provide to the servicer. Borrowers can also get servicing documents from GMACCM online via the GEMS system.

GMACCM is committed to communicating with borrowers and investors in the manner that they choose, Mr. Patel said. That means it will never be an all online or all call center environment.

Some borrowers upload financial statements for the servicer, others continue to send the information on paper, he noted.

Meeting those individual needs of different borrowers is an example of why commercial mortgage servicing demands a combination of technology and sophisticated customer service, he said.

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