Baby Steps

October 26, 2021

In the 1991 film "What About Bob," Bill Murray’s character, Bob Wiley, suffers from phobias that make it difficult for him to leave his apartment. He’s divorced because his ex-wife likes Neil Diamond and he doesn’t. Bob is eventually referred to the egotistical Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Dr. Marvin suggests Bob read his newly released book, "Baby Steps."

Dr. Marvin tells Bob not to think about everything you need to do to get out of the building, just what you need to do to get out of the room. And then the hall. As he’s walking out of the office, Bob pipes up, "Baby steps around the office."

While the advice didn’t have an immediate positive impact, the small, reasonable goals prove beneficial as Bob applies the Baby Steps approach and avoids "death therapy" by breaking free of his self-imposed constraints.

This same philosophy can be applied to implementing digital closing processes in your company. While digital closings continue to grow, they are still used on a significantly small percentage of transactions. In fact, 65% of those surveyed in ALTA’s Digital Closing Survey said they don’t offer remote online notarization. Of those who do conduct RON closings, 34% don’t believe there will be any operational efficiencies. This is where title companies need to think like Bob and work past their negative preconceptions about online transactions.

While not all companies may eventually embrace digital closings, the way customers are served will continue to change. Look at how fast-food chains are evolving as they battle minimum wage increases and labor shortages.

In 2020, McDonalds started implementing self-service ordering kiosks at locations across the country. Many other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. These innovations aren’t intended to reduce the number of employees. Rather, they’re designed to make staff more efficient at their jobs. The kiosks at McDonalds may have replaced those taking orders, but there are more employees focused on production and fulfillment.

Using technology in various parts of your operation—whether it’s to automate customer responses to consumer questions or to deliver a better closing experience—can give your staff more time to work on revenue-generating tasks. At this point, digital closings won’t work for every customer in all transactions. But they can prove beneficial for those in the military, millennials or others that can’t drive to an office. Baby steps.

Jeremy Yohe is ALTA's vice president of communications. He can be reached at [email protected].


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or [email protected].