If you want an idea of how social business software could rewrite the rules for your small business, you might want to consider the case of Signature Mortgage, a small loans processing company from Canton, Ohio, that began using the IBM SmartCloud service about two years ago to help it gain a competitive edge nationwide.
IBM's SmartCloud Engage social collaboration service provides the heart of Signature Mortage's electronic loan application, review and processing service. The other component is e-Sign Live, a service from IT services company and IBM Business Partner Silanis Technology that allows Signature Mortgage's agents and customers to review and sign documents electronically.
That process allows loans to be processes and sent onto the next phase in a matter of minutes rather than days, said Bob Caitlin, president of Signature Mortgage. In fact, the company can handle loans in less than 25 days, compared with the U.S. average processing time of 45 days to 60 days. "I am floored by the number of people who are ready and willing to embrace this technology," he said.
This is good for a number of reasons, according to Caitlin. Those reasons include:
- Signature Mortgage can handle more loans: its loan volume has jumped more than 30 percent since it began using the service.
- People can't alter documents, like they would previously do on paper, which can delay processing.
- Signature Mortgage can act on initial loan applications in a matter of hours or days rather than the usual week it takes; this helps keep customers from price shopping during the interim.
- The company has dramatically reduced the cost associated with overnight shipping (by almost $2,000 per month).
- Signature can talk up its accelerated processing time as a competitive differentiation. (About 90 percent of all loan companies still do this manually, according to Caitlin.)
- Managers can check the status of pending applications and follow up on them more effectively than in the past.
Before it could adopt the electronic process, Signature Mortgage researched the legal implications throughly. It also reconsidered the various steps in a loan application and assigned responsibility, so that the application could be adopted more quickly from an internal standpoint, Caitlin said. The service doesn't require customers to install any sort of plug-in: approval "signatures" can be collected in a number of ways that are considered legally binding, including "click to sign", "click to initial" and "click to accept".
Signature Mortgage won't disclose what it pays for its service, but it is priced based on the number of documents that the company plans to process each year. Its arrangement is on an annual basis.