The nuns used to punish me for getting out-of-line but, these days I do it all the time and coach others to do so as well. I know Sr. Helen Michael would be pleased, however, because I am giving good advice that is helping people! Here’s what I mean.
The line for Loan Modifications wraps around the block!It makes the line for Laker’s tickets seem short. Hundreds of thousands are in the queue ahead of you with more than 50,000 added per week. Banks can’t staff and train nearly fast enough and the systems and procedures are insufficient as well. Add to that the fact that the banks are only begrudgingly modifying to begin with – and you have a formula for homeowner frustration and failure. Though it seems rude, you have to “take cuts” to get to the front of the line.
Only 4% of us, at the front of the line are getting good modifications. so, let’s continue to figure-out just what theyare doing and copy it! In several recent articles I’ve described the way the winners construct their applications and follow-up on their files to leverage “File Inertia”. Let me now describe how they escalate problems when they occur.
Because problems are an inevitable part of such a convoluted and broken process, effectively dealing with them is critical. I advise you to 1) Ask 5 Times, 2) Escalate Well and 3) Escalate Well Beyond.
Ask 5 times The common problems are not too tough. Replace a lost document, sign one sent w/o signature, update bank statements or paystubs, etc. Just breath deeply, hold your tongue and provide exactly the information they request. But, there are times when you just cannot get agreement or get a clear explanation, or other such frustration, when you simply need to take my advice. Thank the agent and then call back one day, one hour or one minute later and try the same question on a new agent. I always do this 5 times before I give up. You see, many of the agents in the Loss Mitigation Department are scantily trained and sorely inexperienced. Very often they just can’t understand you or the system.
Escalation means going up the chain of command. It means requesting that a manager or supervisor review the situation with you. Be sure to do this politely to minimize the snub to the agent but be firm. Simply say (to the 5th agent) “Please connect me to your supervisor, will you? This matter is ust too important to me to let this go. I want to hear it from a supervisor”. Sometimes the agent will obligeand other times the agent will argue with you. I believe that sometimes too, agents will ask their co-worker to pose as a manager for the call. It may happen that the manager will have to call you back. Don’t hold your breath. Occassionally you will get lucky and a well trained and well informed manager will get on the line and provide some real vaue.
Escalate Well Beyond the Loss Mitigation Department. Perhaps departmental rules or guidelines have to be altered in your case. Often the individual departments do not have the authority to make exceptions. You should seek assistance and support from other departments, or from bank executives, regulatory agencies, politicians, trade associations or, maybe even the press. Don’t think that your problem is too small for any of them to care about. The secret to winning their support is to ask for it in a way that indicates you 1) have used all the correct channels already, 2) understand their role and have appropriate expectations for what they can do to help, 3) know specifically what you want them to do and 4) that you are the type of person who will not stop escalating if they fail to respond.
Escalations Well Beyond the Loss Mitigation Department are surprisingly effective. Several of my clients have had success getting CEOs, Congressmen and even a U.S. Senator to place a call on their behalf. Such intervention is almost always successful.
This housing crisis has hit so many of us that, generally speaking most people are sympathetic and willing to lend a had if they can. So, getting the assistance you need is really about having the nerve and the street-smarts to ask for it well.