The Future of Customer Support is Social, Mobile, Video and Insourced

The Future of Customer Support is Social, Mobile, Video and Insourced

It’s hard to read Mary Meeker’s latest 2012 Internet trends report and not be stunned by her social, mobile and web statistics. Today, there are 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide with 1.1 billion smartphone subscribers. The amazing fact is that the 1 billion-plus smartphone users only represent 17 percent of the global mobile phone market. In addition, nearly 1 out of 3 adults in the U.S. have tablets. The report also showed that 13 percent of the worldwide internet traffic is mobile, versus 4 percent in 2010. This month, the analyst firm IDC increased its tablet forecast for 2012 to 122.3 million units, with forward projections of nearly 300 million units by 2016.

A very important trend is also the explosive nature of social networking via mobile devices. I would argue that social is the main driver behind mobile. As the CMO and Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys, I also remind my CIO/CTO customers that social and mobile are not about technology, but rather a lifestyle. In the book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, which I co-authored with my colleague Brad Martin, we talk about the impact of the social revolution in customer service and support.

A 2012 Nielson and McKinsey research study noted that consumers spend 30 percent of total time online via mobile and mostly on social networks. Neilson also reported a 37 percent year-over-year increase of time spent on social media via mobile devices; Americans spent 121 billion minutes in July 2012 versus 88 billion in July 2011. The top social networks were Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Another interesting fact is that year-over-year comparisons of time spent on social networks, via mobile devices, increased by 24 percent, yet time spent on social networks via PCs declined by 5 percent.

Summary of fact: people are more mobile and social and spending more of their time connected that ever before. And yet so many businesses, notably in the B2B space, have customer service and support organizations that are not ready for the mobile, social, and hyper-connected era. To add to the dilemma, larger B2B organizations have decided to outsource their customer support offshore in order to reduce expenses. Guess what? The mobile and social revolution will be a big wakeup call for these businesses.

Today, most B2B call centers employ a multi-channel contact strategy, mostly dominated by a combination of phone, email and web options with minimal to no social contact channel or community-driven service delivery models. But the future contact for customer service representatives will be a mobile, socially savvy customer who is likely to connect using a video social application, like Google+ hangouts, on a consumer tablet/smartphone. Studies show that tablet users are three times more likely to use mobile video as compared to other mobile devices.

Concurrent video streams can facilitate real-time collaboration with multiple end users, working together to accelerate the path to resolution. This multi-media capability will also be integrated in a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, providing the ability to catalogue transactions for quality improvement and better customer experience references.

Now imagine a scenario whereby the mobile customer is expecting to connect to your company’s frontline support personnel via mobile video. Companies that have outsourced their customer service call centers will now be uniquely challenged to ensure the frontline service employees are informed and able to engage customers in a meaningful way. It will be harder to read a script and transact in rudimentary ways when the service professional is virtually face-to-face with the customer. Social savvy service professionals who are well trained and able to engage with other subject matter experts — R&D, field, and professional service engineering — will be ready for this mobile and social revolution.

The quality of customer service may be the most important function in a social era. I would argue that customer service is the new marketing. Social businesses understand that differentiation in the social era requires not only a collaborative mindset but also the highest level of competency. Success in a social, hyper-connected era requires an understanding of core competencies and proper alignment of investments to ensure sustained differentiation. Successful social businesses cannot outsource their core competencies, including the competency of relationship building and trust that comes from delivering excellent customer service and support.

Are you confident that you customer support team is ready to service your customers via mobile video? Are the company executives speaking about future investments in mobile and social technologies to help improve business agility and customer delight? Clay Christensen famously said: “You may hate gravity, but gravity does not care.” Substitute the words mobile and social with gravity and the statement above is still valid. It’s not about technology anymore, it’s a lifestyle.

Bottom line: keep your core competencies in-house, be aware of market trends and technology disruptions, and stop fighting gravity.

China Bashing Bears Fruit: Apple Moves Bring Manufacturing Home

China Bashing Bears Fruit: Apple Moves Bring Manufacturing Home

I’m going to take a little (very little) victory lap here. Several times in this space, I’ve suggested that Apple needs to move manufacturing back home. Each time I’ve gotten comments like “that’s not going to happen” or “they will just move to Vietnam or the next cheapest labor market.” However, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Thursday that he is going to manufacture a line of Macintosh computers in the U.S. Firstly, good work Tim, and thanks for finally listening to the vocal minority of us who have been complaining about this situation for years.

2012-12-07-Mac2.jpgI still have my first Macintosh, with its anemic 128k of RAM. When that plucky little beige beastie greeted the public it was assembled at a state-of-the-art plant in Fremont, Calif. Yes, that California, the one with the high taxes, tough labor laws and the environmental crazies. To be fair, Apple moved Mac production out of the state within a couple of years and out of the country not long after. Apple production was done in various places including Cork, Ireland, before finally settling in China about a decade ago.

Now, the specifics of the Apple plan were light and the statement that the capital investment will be a mere $100 million suggests this first foray back into American manufacturing won’t be a big deal for a firm that keeps about 1,000 times that in the bank. However, that is a fine start. Frankly, re-shoring can’t happen over night, because America’s manufacturing infrastructure and workforce will need years to recover. When I interviewed executives at Foxconn City a couple years ago, they told me they didn’t think most of what they built in Shenzhen could be built in the U.S. at all. The fact is, that many segments of the electronic product assembly supply chain and production engineers experienced with the latest hardware are hard to find in the U.S.2012-12-07-MacUSA.jpg

That brings up the point of who will be doing the work. Apple hasn’t actually built anything themselves for years and it doesn’t make sense that they would start now. Although Cook suggests that the deal will be for more than just final product assembly (often a clever way to disguise a truly foreign-built product). It would make sense to have Foxconn run the operation, but that could create a media storm, since so much bad press has been misdirected at that Taiwanese firm.

The key to Apple’s success in China has been its relationship with Foxconn, built by supply chain genius Terry Gou. Despite Foxconn’s public flogging, as we’ve said before, the firm’s factories are No. 1 by Chinese standards and its products outshine anything else made there. It suicides, while deplorable, are actually far below China’s normal horrid rate of self-murder. Apple’s problem with Foxconn is simply that the factories are in China where the standards for everything are abysmal. Even the Chinese know this as a recent survey ironically revealed that 61 percent of the Chinese are willing to pay more to get Made In USA goods.

Foxconn’s factories are in China because every product they ship out benefits form China’s currency advantage, because Chinese subsidies essentially pay for their factories, and because there is no government enforcement of labor or environmental standards. That’s a hard deal for any manufacturer to turn down. Which brings us to the point.

If we want Apple, or any firm, to make more than a symbolic effort to create jobs in the U.S. we’ve got to have a national action plan to both create a competitive domestic market and penalize our trading partners who lure away jobs with unsavory tactics. We must do this, because that is exactly what our international competitors do. We’ve been the only team on the field without a coach for thirty years, and we’ve had thirty years of rising trade deficits.

This means getting rid of the world’s highest corporate tax rates now — something both the administration and Congress say they want to do. In fact, I’d advocate we eliminate the corporate tax for monies repatriated to the U.S. and invested into American factories or R&D (minus any stock buybacks, dividends or executive bonuses). It also means seriously streamlining environmental and labor rules and eliminating regulatory redundancies at the state and local levels. No sacred cows other than American jobs.

What this does not mean is joining China in a race to the bottom of standards and transporting American workers back to the 19th century. In order to compete against that, we must implement selective penalties that nullify the advantages China creates by manipulating their currency, subsidizing their factories, repressing organized labor and filling the skies and rivers with poisonous waste.

Now before you all scream about “you can’t do that under the WTO rules” let me just remind you China shouldn’t have been able to do any of those things in the first place, but they did. They still do. And they have no intention of stopping, WTO be damned. The simple truth is that China has made a mockery of the world trade process in the same way that they’ve used their UN Security Council veto to support the likes of Syria, Iran, and North Korea. You just can’t stay in a deal where only one side is required to follow rules or behave in a civilized manner. It is time for Washington to take off the gloves and fight for American jobs like the 700,000 other ones Apple has left in China.

Bed Bath & Beyond Employee Quits In Style, Blasts Boss On Price Tag

Bed Bath & Beyond Employee Quits In Style, Blasts Boss On Price Tag

This may be the best display of “sticking it to the man” that we have seen in quite some time.

A disgruntled Bed Bath & Beyond employee seemingly lost his wits before quitting his job and decided to let the world know how he really feels. The worker, who apparently was tasked with creating the tags that describe the store’s merchandise, tweaked one price tag to include his parting words for his boss.

(WARNING: Explicit Language Below)

Peppered among the true descriptors of the store’s Nuwave Pro Infrared Oven — “digital control panel,” “comes with extender ring kit,” etc. — are the employee’s true feelings: “MY BOSS IS A PR*CK!,” “I’M QUITTING TODAY,” among other statements unfit for your average oven tag.

 

Goldman Sachs Receives Fine That Will Take It 24 Minutes To Pay Off

Goldman Sachs Receives Fine That Will Take It 24 Minutes To Pay Off

Who says the government is going easy on Wall Street? Goldman Sachs just got slapped with such a huge fine that the firm might have to miss an entire episode of Spongebob Squarepants making it up.

That’s how much time it will take Goldman to make up its latest regulatory penalty: About 24 minutes, or one Spongebob, if you fast-forward through the commercials.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission brought the hammer down on Goldman Sachs on Friday for failing to keep a close eye on a trader who, back in 2007, used fake trades to hide an $8 billion trading position from regulators. Goldman fired the trader, but it also sort of took its sweet time notifying government regulators about the trader’s shenanigans, according to the CFTC.

The trader ultimately cost Goldman $118 million in losses, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy the merciless CFTC, which slammed Goldman with a fine of $1.5 million. Say it Dr. Evil style and it sounds even worse.

Now, $1.5 million buys a lot of calamari. Such a fine would bankrupt the vast majority of the human beings on earth, and more than a few companies.

But Goldman Sachs generated $8.35 billion in revenue in the third quarter of this year alone, or a little more than $63,000 per minute. At that rate, Goldman will be able to pay off its $1.5 million fine in just under 24 minutes.

In contrast, it would take Goldman nearly 516 minutes, or a little more than eight and a half hours, to pay for the cost of CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s new house in the Hamptons, for which he reportedly paid $32.5 million.

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink

After three years of declining sales, shipments of domestically sold beer are up by more than 1% in the United States this year. Sales of light beer and specialty beer, such as Budweiser Light Platinum, Shock Top, and Blue Moon, have been the driving force in the resurgence of U.S. breweries. 

While sales of specialty, craft, and small-market beers have improved dramatically, many of the traditional, full-calorie beers that were once the staples of most breweries have fallen behind. In the five years ending in 2011, sales of Budweiser, which was once the top-selling beer in the country for years, have fallen by 7 million barrels. Sales of Michelob are down more than 70%. Based on data provided by Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine large — or once-large — beer brands with a five-year decline in sales of 30% or more.

While regular, full-calorie beer was once the mainstream, now light has become the primary beer of choice. Budweiser, once by far the most popular beer, has now fallen to third place in domestic sales, with 17.2 million barrels shipped in 2011, compared to Coors Light’s 17.4 million. The U.S. beer leader is, by a long shot, Bud Light, with 39.15 million barrels sold last year.

Budweiser did not quite make the 30% decline in sales cutoff for our list, but many other traditional brews did. Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Best and Miller Genuine Draft have all lost 50% of their sales since 2006. Michelob shipped 500,000 barrels domestically in 2006, but sold just 140,000 in 2011.

While light beer has supplanted full-calorie beer in popularity, sales of most leading light brands have been flat over the past several years. In fact, many of the beers on our list with the biggest declines are light beers that either didn’t catch on or faded out of popularity.  In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS executive editor Eric Shepard explained that it is specialty beers and craft beers — not light beer — that have eaten into sales of traditional full-calorie beer in the past year.

Shepard explained that like most major brand-centered industries, the beer industry has entered a period of aggressively marketing new brands and flavors. “I think that part of the reason that brewers felt we had three down years was primarily the economy… but it was also a lack of innovation, and so now you’re seeing [the beer industry] rev up these things,” he said. “The buzzword for this year was innovation.”

To combat the growing popularity of craft brews, major breweries such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE: BUD) and MillerCoors have aggressively marketed their own specialty beer. Bud Light Platinum, which debuted during the Super Bowl, has been very successful, beating most expectations. Shock Top, also produced by Anheuser-Busch, sold 600,000 barrels last year, more than double the previous year’s sales. Another Belgian white beer, Blue Moon, which is sold by MillerCoors, was the 18th-most popular beer last year. Shepard expects the focus on nontraditional brews to continue at least through next year. This will likely further reduce sales of the declining brands on our list.

24/7 Wall St. identified the nine beers Americans no longer drink based on INSIGHTS top 50 beer brands with at least 500,000 barrels in sales in either 2006 or 2011 with sales declines of 30% or more over the same period. Sales for flavored malt beverages and craft beers were excluded from the analysis.

These are the nine beers Americans no longer drink.

 

9. Milwaukee’s Best Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 35.5%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.2 million

Milwaukee’s Best Light, according to SABMiller, one half of MillerCoors, is a “leading low-calorie beer in the near-premium segment.” Although the brand has been on shelves since 1986, in recent years customers have abandoned the beer. Sales volume dropped by more than a third between 2006 and 2011, versus a decline of just 4% for all top brands. Last year, Milwaukee’s Best Light sold 750,000 barrels, 5.8% less than in 2010. Meanwhile, sales for the top brands fell by just 1.7% during that time.
 

8. Miller High Life Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 37.6%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 390,000

Miller High Life Light was first sold in 1994 as the low-calorie version of Miller High Life, often referred to as “the champagne of beers.” But while customers have continued buying the original Miller High Life — sales declined just 3.6% between 2006 and 2011 — they have deserted the light version — which saw sales decline by more than ten times that number. In 2011, sales fell by 80,000 barrels, or 17%, from 2010.

7. Amstel Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 47.7%
> Brewer: Heineken
> Barrels sold (2011): 340,000

Debuting in 1980, Amstel Light claims to have been the first imported light beer available in the U.S. The brand, brewed by Heineken, is the only imported beer, as well as the only beer not brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors, on this list. Neither of these brewers experienced a sales decline as large as that of Heineken between 2010 and 2011, when U.S. sales volume fell by 3.9%. One cause was Amstel Light sales, which fell by 13.9% — more than any other major Heineken brand.

 

6. Miller Genuine Draft 
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.3%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.6 million

Miller Genuine Draft, marketed as having “the fresh taste of draft beer in a bottle,” has lost consumers’ attention in recent years. It was one of just six beers that had sales volume fall by half between 2006 and 2011. During this time, the total number of Miller Genuine Draft barrels sold fell by 1.7 million, more than any other beer on this list. Only one other brand bottled by MillerCoors — Miller Lite — had a larger decline in barrels sold over this time span.

5. Old Milwaukee
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.8%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels sold (2011): 460,000

Old Milwaukee is brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company, which sold itself to C. Dean Metropoulos — described by The New York Times as “a veteran food executive known for corporate turnarounds” — in 2010. Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that employees felt Metropoulos’ marketing plans were moving the company away from the philosophies and practices that made it successful. From 2010 to 2011 alone, sales decreased by 12.4% — worse than 80% of top brands.

4. Milwaukee’s Best
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 57.1%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 750,000

MillerCoors claims that Milwaukee’s Best is “brewed for a man’s taste,” and is “highly drinkable [and] highly affordable.” However customers have stopped buying — and drinking — the brand. Between 2006 and 2011, no major brand made by MillerCoors had a larger percentage decrease in sales. The beer is one of the worst-ranked brews on BeerAdvocate.com.

3. Budweiser Select
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 60.8%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 775,000

Budweiser Select, introduced in 2005, claims to offer a “distinctively full flavor,” with just 99 calories per 12-ounces — roughly the same as Michelob Ultra. The brand has not sold well since its introduction, with sales declining by 1.2 million barrels between 2006 and 2011 — more than all but a few top brands. In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev also introduced Budweiser Select 55, which the company describes as “the lightest beer in the world with fewer calories than any other beer option currently available.”

 

2. Michelob Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 66.3%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 425,000

From 2006 to 2011 shipments of Michelob Light fell by 66.3%, more than any other major light beer in the U.S. While sales of Michelob Light declined, sales of Michelob Ultra — introduced in 2002, with just 95 calories per 12 ounces — rose by 10.3% from 2006 to 2011. Anheuser-Busch InBev no longer prominently markets the beers on its websites alongside the better-selling Michelob Ultra. Between 2010-2011, sales of Michelob light fell by 19%, more than all but two of the top brands we reviewed.

1. Michelob
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 72.0%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 140,000

American consumers have abandoned Michelob — a lager brewed since 1896 — at a faster rate than any other beer. From 2006 to 2011, sales declined from 500,000 barrels to 140,000, with a 20% drop between 2010 and 2011 alone. No other beer on this list sold less than Michelob. The next-lowest selling beer, Amstel Light, still sold 200,000 barrels more than Michelob last year. The brand has not always struggled. According to Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS’ Eric Shepard, “the superpremium category — basically between Budweiser and the imports — Michelob pretty much had that to itself for many years.”

 

Chinese Company Wanxiang Wins Auction For U.S. Government-Backed A123

Chinese Company Wanxiang Wins Auction For U.S. Government-Backed A123

China’s largest maker of auto parts won a politically sensitive auction for A123 Systems Inc, a bankrupt maker of batteries for electric cars that was funded partly with U.S. government money, A123’s investment banker said on Saturday.

Timothy Pohl of Lazard Freres said Wanxiang Group Corp’s bid of about $260 million topped a joint bid from Johnson Controls Inc of Milwaukee and Japan’s NEC Corp for the maker of lithium-ion batteries.

Siemens AG of Germany had also qualified to bid, according to two people familiar with the auction, who asked not to be identified. The auction began on Thursday.

Chinese companies have launched $51.3 billion worth of outbound deals this year, making it Asia’s second-biggest spender on overseas acquisitions behind Japan, according to Thomson Reuters data.

While state-owned oil giants continue to dominate outbound deals, recently Chinese companies have targeted deals aimed at securing technology know-how. That shift is supported by China’s five-year development plan that puts emphasis on industries such as high-end manufacturing equipment.

Earlier this year, Shandong Heavy Industry Group agreed to buy a quarter stake in Germany’s Kion Group, giving China access to industrial technology from the world’s number two fork lift truck maker.

Before that, Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group agreed to buy a majority stake in privately held German machinery manufacturer Schwing, while Sany Heavy Industry bought rival Putzmeister in a 360 million euro ($472 million) deal.

Wanxiang, one of the largest non-government-owned companies in China, has annual revenue of more than $13 billion and supplies auto parts to many of China’s largest automakers.

POLITICAL BACKLASH

News of Wanxiang’s winning bid comes only a day after the Canadian government approved a controversial deal allowing China’s state-owned oil company CNOOC to buy energy company Nexen Inc for $15.1 billion..

Wanxiang’s approach for A123 had stirred a political storm and one U.S. politician was quick to warn about A123 and its sensitive, U.S. taxpayer-financed technology falling into the hands of a Chinese company.

“Given the thin line between Wanxiang and the Chinese government, I am concerned about the government of China having access to sensitive technologies being used by our military forces,” said a statement from Congressman Bill Huizenga, a Republican from Michigan where A123 has plants.

The sale did not include parts of A123’s business that works with the U.S. Defense Department, a source close to the deal said. That portion of the company went to another bidder, which the source did not identify.

The sale must be approved by Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge Kevin Carey at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Opposition to the deal will likely focus on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which would need to approve the sale to Wanxiang.

U.S. politicians and retired military leaders have already pressed the government panel to reject Wanxiang.

Separately, the U.S. government has also said it must give its consent before its $249 million grant to A123 can be transferred to a new owner. The battery maker can still draw $120 million under various government grants, according to court records.

It was unclear if the grant would be transferred to Wanxiang.

A123, whose customers include Fisker Automotive, General Motors Co, BMW and the U.S. military, received the U.S. government grant as part of a program to promote clean energy.

Wanxiang has had its eyes on A123 for a while. The Chinese company struck a $465 million investment deal meant to save A123 from bankruptcy earlier this year. That agreement fell apart after A123 failed to meet certain criteria, according to court documents.

The Chinese company is no stranger to investing in the United States.

Wanxiang generates about $1 billion in revenue in the United States by supplying parts to GM and Ford Motor Co and has bought or invested in more than 20 U.S. companies, many of them in bankruptcy, said a congressional report.

Those past investments could help Wanxiang get approval to buy A123, but the deal will be closely scrutinized because it involves advanced technology, said Andrew Szamosszegi, who wrote the report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

A123 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.

The money from the auction will go toward paying off A123’s creditors. The company listed liabilities of $376 million when it filed for bankruptcy.

Foreclosure-Prevention Roadshow Still Drawing Crowds Indicating Not All Is Well In The Housing Market

Foreclosure-Prevention Roadshow Still Drawing Crowds Indicating Not All Is Well In The Housing Market

When the non-profit group Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America held its first foreclosure-prevention event in 2008, 8,000 people were waiting in line at 4 a.m. to get inside on the final day, said chief executive Bruce Marks.

The crowds are smaller now, but the non-profit organization is still holding events around the United States to help homeowners obtain loan modifications from banks. As many as 5,000 people are expected to attend a five-day event in Charlotte, North Carolina, that runs through Monday.

NACA’s ongoing efforts show how, despite improving signs in the housing market, borrowers are still looking for help reducing their mortgage payments.

In October, foreclosure filings were down 19 percent from the same month last year, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data provider. But with more than 186,000 properties in foreclosure nationwide, there is still plenty for NACA to do.

The group is putting on its 43rd and final event of the year in Charlotte and plans 24 more next year. In more than 100 events, NACA says it has helped more than 200,000 homeowners obtain loan modifications.

“You can say a lot of things about us, but we are relentless,” Marks, who founded the Boston-based organization in 1998, said in an interview.

NACA first gained attention for confronting banks about predatory lending practices and then for launching a program that offers affordable mortgages to low- and moderate income borrowers. When the foreclosure crisis erupted, fueled by subprime loans with high interest rates, the group became the first to organize events offering one-stop assistance to homeowners, Marks said.

At the events, NACA plays the middleman, connecting homeowners who are behind on their payments with big lenders such as Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Walking from station to station in the cavernous exhibit floor in Charlotte’s convention center, borrowers deliver mortgage documents, meet with counselors who help with budgeting and then talk with the banks. The goal is to get borrowers decisions on loan modification on the same day.

Banks in recent years have started holding their own events for their customers, but Marks said NACA still has an important role to play. That’s because borrowers are often wary of talking with their lenders, he said.

“The banks have lost the trust of the American people, regardless of what they do,” he said.

Starting this year, NACA has offered mortgages for home purchases at its events. It is also helping people submit requests for foreclosure reviews, a federal government program designed to compensate homeowners who lost their homes because of errors in the foreclosure process. The deadline is the end of this month.

Charlotte homeowner Wil Jones, 48, said he came to the event on Friday because he is behind on his mortgage payments after suffering financial problems. JPMorgan has already denied his request for a modification three times, he said. “I wanted to see if NACA can help,” Jones said.

After more than four years, Marks is hoping his home-saving tour will come to an end. “The ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of the modification business,” Marks said. (Reporting By Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)