As most title veterans know, the title industry doesn’t often get a whole lot of credit. Even though it’s usually the title agency that zigs, zags, adapts and finds the workarounds to make a clear-to-close become a closing, we’re often blamed for being too slow; too busy to return phone calls or too old fashioned. Yet it’s the title agency that goes out and gets the missing data. It’s the agency that tracks down a buyer or seller to schedule the closing. And it’s more often than not a title agency (or closer) who treks out to a remote location on a Saturday evening so that the scheduled closing happens.
It’s not a career for those who love being the most popular kid on the playground. But it’s a worthy calling, nonetheless.
That said, more than a few title agencies out there are admittedly still doing things “the way we’ve always done it.” It’s not necessarily because they’re stubborn. Instead, it’s because this is an industry governed by numerous, disparate entities at the state and local levels. As a result, title agents—especially multi-state or multi-regional title agents—have to do their jobs in a kaleidoscope of state, county, city and federal rules, regulations and laws. And that’s not to mention lender requirements, local customs and client demands. All of that, understandably, can lead to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.
Unfortunately, that also leads, more often than not, to a production approach that’s still rife with manual processes, numerous chokepoints and steep staffing/labor requirements. All too often, getting the job done requires a lot of shoe-leather, numerous phone calls and even more emails. It’s a major reason agents can struggle with profit margins.
As an industry, we may soon be forced out of our traditionalism. It’s been widely reported that America is facing a labor shortage. You can see it in the numerous “Now Hiring” signs you’ll see driving through your own town. And title labor doesn’t often come through the door prepared to do the skilled/trained job of an escrow assistant or closing specialist, either. The fact is that, if they’re not already, title agents will soon be scrambling for help.
We believe that the help coming doesn’t necessarily have to be of the FTE variety. There’s a wide number of new, single-process oriented title technology solutions hitting the market, and their popularity is a strong indicator that agents are becoming willing to automate. And then, there are digital workers, more commonly referred to as “bots”.
Whatever you may think of “bots,” throw that out. Instead, imagine the most painful, 200 step, manual process in your title workflow. Imagine you only have one or two staffers who handle that process, with all of its quirks, left turns and secret workarounds and suddenly they fall ill or decide to leave your organization.
Now, imagine if that process was converted from a manual one to an automated one. What may have taken an hour or two for a new hire to complete ,with potential errors or delays, gets delivered by the bot within a matter of minutes. THIS is how title agents should be thinking about leveraging bots, to ensure business continuity and service levels!
Chances are that you think of a “bot” as a piece of code that trawls the Internet seeking data—and not always with virtuous intent. That’s partially correct. They’re often built to search the Internet for specific bits of data, but it’s not always with malicious intent. If you stop and think about it, there are numerous manual title processes which require your staff to search the Internet or specific websites for data. They’re probably more expensive than a bot, prone to errors, and definitely won’t work 24/7.
Get used to the term “bot” in the title industry. And when you hear it, think of it as a non-intrusive, reasonably priced way to automate any number of manual processes you’re struggling to hire for! In the coming weeks, we look forward to showing you several specific ways in which bots can help in your title operations.