It was that time of year…I received the annual “escrow analysis statement” from my mortgage company. For customers in many states who choose to have their real-estate taxes impounded and paid by their mortgage company, this is the statement that shows their forecast of disbursements from these impound accounts, for taxes and/or insurance, along with the associated minimum balances and expected “low” points. They often communicate the resulting change in the monthly mortgage payment based on any adjustments to the monthly impound account contributions required. Sometimes customers have the option of increasing their payment, or paying a lump sum that will cover any projected shortage so their payment can remain the same. The projected tax amounts on mine didn’t look right to me, so I placed a call to the customer service number, which was listed on the statement. I chose what seemed to be the most appropriate selection from the voice prompts and after a few minutes of waiting, I was routed to an agent. The agent indicated that I needed to talk to someone different, so she transferred me. I waited another few minutes, and the agent that I was transferred to told me that there was a separate group handling inquiries about these escrow analysis statements, and transferred me again. After another couple of minutes, I got to another agent, who was able to resolve my inquiry pretty quickly and seemingly without any difficulty.
This wasn’t a bad experience for me, although the various transfers and conversations did turn result in a total of more than 15 minutes on the phone, when it could have been significantly less. My inquiry was resolved, so I was satisfied. However, this was a much costlier interaction for the company than it had to be because it actually turned into three calls (one each with three different agents) instead of just one. The annual mailing of these statements is most likely one that generates a lot of calls. Presumably these go out to a large portion of their customers, at least within certain states. According to the last agent that transfers me, these statements generate enough call volume that they have set up a special group to handle the calls. This can be a smart step on the part of the company because if they have a large customer service staff, it can save them a lot of training costs by only training a portion of them. However, that savings can only be realized if they are able to get the calls to that specialized group efficiently. In this case, given that the majority of these calls happen over a short period of time, a company should consider adding a special option in the voice response menu specifically for callers inquiring about those statements. This could catch a significant number of these callers, provide them with faster service, and help to ensure that the training dollars they save aren’t offset by the handling of misdirected calls. Making a temporary change like this to the menu can often be done relatively quickly and easily.