Smile, you're on camera: Getting the most out of teleconferencing

Smile, you're on camera: Getting the most out of teleconferencing

Smile, you

From the moment a lightning strike first gave us fire, humans have understood the relationship between crisis and opportunity. As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, mortgage professionals have not let the opportunity to innovate pass them by.

While some brokers were riding the Zoom bandwagon well before the coronavirus paid us all an unwelcome visit, many in the industry are just discovering the immense possibilities of videoconferencing. Both groups, forced by circumstance to conduct business at a distance, are finding new ways to use platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and even Facebook Messenger to not only stay afloat during a period of unprecedented uncertainty, but to set sail – improving their training capabilities, launching new initiatives and even increasing their social media presence.

The ability of video chat participants to see and hear one another while going through documents together has been a game changer for companies attempting to onboard staff or conduct remote training. Videoconferences allow new hires to virtually shadow their co-workers, allowing for constant communication at a time when there is no shortage of questions that need answers.

“When I onboard new agents now, I record my training,” says Dalia Barsoum, who specializes in financing investment purchases in Toronto at Streetwise Mortgages. “My agents can replay it and go through it over and over.”

The option of recording calls means brokers have access to reams of valuable content that can be shared with their social media audiences. Fernando Zilli of Dominion Lending Centres is in the testing phase of using his Zoom calls for that exact purpose.

“It’s giving a huge platform for me to gain content and actually utilize that content so I’m not just talking to five, 10 or 50 people,” he says.

Interfaces like Zoom, FaceTime and Skype, convenient as they are, require work on the part of mortgage professionals if the conversations are to be both informative and secure. No shortage of ink has been spilled in the last weeks about the hackability of some Zoom calls, so agents must ensure they only use platforms that offer unique IDs and passwords to protect the privacy of prospective clients.

John Vo of Spicer Vo Mortgages feels that while technology like Zoom is a game-changer, agents shouldn’t take for granted that everyone is up for a video call at any time of the day.

“I don’t want to assume you’re okay with it,” he says. “People can be in their pyjamas or not be presentable, so they might prefer not to. If you’re in your bed sick and don’t mind having a call, that’s different versus my assuming that you want to do a video call.”

Teleconferencing tech has also brought positive changes to the process of onboarding and educating clients. Ryan Grant, a Fairway broker in Los Angeles, has been using video to put CPAs and financial planners in front of his customers, helping them gain as many facts as can be scraped together at such an uncertain time. Grant feels that video interactions have already left an indelible mark on how originators do business.

“It’ll fundamentally change the way we look at a lot of things moving forward because we’re finding it may be even more effective in getting eyeballs on things when [clients] need to,” Grant says.

The enthusiasm Grant is feeling is something Eric Gilbert of Boston-based eClosePlus has been witnessing as he guides clients through demos on Zoom or GoToMeeting on a daily basis. Gilbert says participants in his sessions are now opting for video rather than calling in, a sure sign of their increasing comfort with the technology.

“A month ago, I would have never seen one of them,” he says.

With comfort, enthusiasm and straight answers still in short supply across the mortgage space, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think the technology delivering these rare commodities to consumers will thrive even after the crisis that necessitated its use has passed.

Even if they don’t change the industry, teleconferencing platforms will continue providing something incalculably valuable to their users as they wait (and wait and wait) for life to return to normal.

“What we’ve used it for now that we obviously didn’t have a need for before,” Grant says, “is a sense of community.”