Why the Lockdowns Couldn’t Stop this Award-Winning Mortgage Lender from Delivering World-Class Service… or Growing its Bottom Line
Union Home Mortgage Corp. (UHM) is a high-growth, full-service retail, wholesale and consumer direct independent mortgage banking company with over 150 branches across the U.S. For 6 consecutive years, UHM has been awarded a Top Workplace. With a world-class culture that stands out in the mortgage industry, UHM Partners (employees) are guided by a Code of Conduct that emphasizes respect, open communication and accountability. UHM is an approved direct lender of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, USDA and other conforming and non-QM loan products, with over $7 billion in responsible lending per year.
With COVID-19 creating massive uncertainty about people’s jobs and futures, the demand for mortgage loans skyrocketed—and responsible, reputable lenders became more essential than ever.
For half a century, Union Home Mortgage has been helping people achieve one of the biggest milestones in their lives: purchasing or building a home.
Mortgage lending is a competitive industry. Union Home Mortgage attributes its staying power—and, indeed, its massive growth—to the company’s award-winning customer service and corporate culture. The Ohio-based organization has been named a “Best Mortgage Lender” for several years by the Columbus Dispatch, and publications such as Inside Mortgage Finance and The Cleveland Plain Dealer have ranked UHM at the top of their lists of “Best Workplaces” for 6 consecutive years.
In the months following the initial pandemic lockdowns, thousands of borrowers across the country turned to Union Home Mortgage for a much-needed financial lifeline to help them through the most troubled economy in anyone’s memory. Fortunately, the company was ready to continue providing this all-important service to customers, because it had already put in place a cloud communications platform that allowed its Partners to work from anywhere.
“The phone system was falling short in terms of reliability, scalability, support, integrations. It just didn’t seem capable of growing at our pace.”
Chief Information Officer
“The phone system just didn’t seem capable of growing at our pace.”
Chief Information Officer
“The lockdowns should’ve been very disruptive for our national workforce—most of whom reported to an office every day and met with clients face-to-face. But because we had RingCentral in place, it was almost a non-event.”
IT Infrastructure Team Lead
Replacing a phone system that was taxed to its limits
As challenges mounted with the company’s previous phone system, UHM’s technology team decided to use the end-date of that vendor’s contract as an opportunity to find a better solution. As Chief Information Officer Mark Langhans explains, the company had several problems with its phone service—problems that became more serious as the business grew and too large to ignore as UHM reached the 175-location mark.
“We had system performance issues at headquarters and in many of our branch offices—not all the time, but enough that our Partners and customers noticed,” he said. “We’ve really built this business on providing outstanding service, and our phone system was becoming a limiting factor in achieving that mission.”
Amanda Coyne, the company’s IT Infrastructure Team Lead, adds that UHM also wanted to consolidate as many communications services as possible onto a single platform, to improve their Partners’ workflows and customer service. Prior to migrating to RingCentral, UHM’s staff often had to use less-than-ideal workarounds for online meetings, business faxing, and exchanging SMS text messages with borrowers.
She explains: “We didn’t want our lending officers to have to tell borrowers, ‘Call me at this number. But if you want to text me, it’s best to use this number. And use this number to send us a fax.’"
RingCentral makes communication more effective than ever…
Migrating to RingCentral’s all-in-one communications solution solved the reliability issues—which was the immediate, high-priority need. “We stopped having phone outages,” Mark explains. “That alone was a huge win for our business.”
But as Amanda points out, Union Home Mortgage’s Partners began finding many other ways the cloud solution improved their productivity—and their ability to deliver the level of service UHM is known for.
“Our lending officers now had the ability to easily communicate with borrowers from anywhere, and in whatever ways the borrowers preferred,” she explains. “They could call, text, or talk face-to-face over a video chat and share their screens.” She adds: “The built-in digital faxing was also a big advantage, because it helped our sales teams respond more quickly to borrowers’ faxes even if they weren’t in the office.”
… and prepares UHM to thrive as a remote workforce
Then everything changed when the pandemic led to lockdowns in all of the 40 states where UHM has locations. As Mark and Amanda explain, RingCentral had positioned the company well to handle the sudden transition, but they had still planned to take at least a couple of weeks to make sure all of their 1,200 Partners around the country had what they needed to work from home.
“Turns out, it went much smoother than anticipated,” says Mark. “We were 100% remote within a few business days. And there’s no way we could’ve done that without RingCentral.”
As Amanda explains, what made the transition so smooth was that UHM was able to recreate Partners’ workflows at home to be essentially identical to their office experience. “For inbound sales calls, for example, our standard process is for those to route to assistants, who then transfer them to the appropriate lending officer. Because RingCentral’s phone system is so easy to use, we were able to recreate that same experience, even with everybody at home.”
And because RingCentral is able to support UHM’s staff even for the largest virtual meetings they’ve ever had, the company has been able to host all-hands video calls —and keep everyone feeling connected during the lockdowns. “We’ve had literally 1,200 Partners on these calls,” says Mark. “And I can’t tell you how important that is—or how great it is to hear our CEO say that the communications solution we chose is giving our company a world-class experience.”