Sagent Chief Product Officer Stephanie Durflinger On Redefining “Customer For Life” In Loan Servicing

The software in your mortgage servicing tech stack matters. These tools are the lifeblood of customer care, retention and engagement. Plus they keep you efficient, compliant, and increase MSR values in this complex business.

Your solutions must be simple, especially when your borrower and servicing priorities are complex. This is the core belief Stephanie Durflinger has infused into Sagent’s product team since joining as Chief Product Officer after a long tenure at Ellie Mae. 

Below is part 1 in a series where Stephanie answers questions banks and lenders ask most about Sagent’s servicer product suite, which includes consumer-facing Account Connect and servicer-facing LoanServ and Tempo. 

Where does Sagent fit into the mortgage servicing ecosystem?

Sagent is the technology provider powering the homeownership and consumer lending experience for 12 million borrowers and growing.

As America’s second largest loan servicing software company, we fully understand the complexity of mortgage servicing at scale. We believe now is the time for servicers to reach borrowers where they are … whether that is at home or on the go, with their laptops or phones, day or night, weekday or weekend.  Borrowers need accurate, quality information and the ability to take action at their fingertips.

How can loan servicers “meet homeowners where they are” and provide a modern experience?

Think about how you watch TV or do your shopping. You work seamlessly across all devices. You can stop at a certain place on your phone and pick up where you left off on your laptop. You get recommendations based on data you’ve given to entertainment and retail companies. And when you need help, customer care teams see the same data you see. 

This omni-channel, data-driven consumer experience is maturing in both mortgage originations and servicing.

In servicing, COVID reminds us that hardship hits borrowers fast and unexpectedly, and we must enable them to understand and act on their options quickly, whether by using their phone app or calling your customer care team for advice.

Servicers have been able to solve customers’ hardship requests with only a slight increase in call resolution times even as forbearances spiked to 8.53% of all outstanding mortgages from March 2 to May 31. Servicers using Sagent led the way on this by giving their borrowers targeted, actionable messaging, education, and guidance based on what the borrower is seeing. 

How did servicers using Sagent enable borrower self-serve so quickly during COVID? 

Our approach is: don’t code for compliance, configure for compliance.  

This approach enables servicers to immediately adapt Sagent’s consumer-facing Account Connect to constantly changing markets, regulations, and GSE/investor loan guidelines. 

It also enables servicers to rapidly configure our flagship LoanServ suite for their needs, and all changes are seamlessly carried through to borrowers via Account Connect. 

When COVID economic strain hit American homeowners all at once in March and April, our servicers were able to quickly add self-serve (using Account Connect) to their full-serve customer care, and also quickly adjust their systems (using LoanServ) to manage critical compliance and accounting functions as CARES and other forbearance and relief efforts came in real-time. 

What else can servicers do for borrowers using Sagent Account Connect?    

When a borrower uses their servicer’s branded version of Account Connect, they don’t see any generic calls to action. Everything is hyper-relevant to their situation and current market conditions. 

Right now a borrower might “Click for COVID-related mortgage assistance” to explore options based on their needs.

On an ongoing basis, a borrower might see messages about managing their escrow balance or updating insurance. All of these are custom to their profile so they can actively manage their mortgage. 

And perhaps the most exciting part for servicers about the Account Connect vision is to let borrowers actively manage their homeownership experience, not just for a loan they have today, but for any lending needs they have over their life of borrowing and homeownership. 

How can servicers let borrowers actively manage their homeownership experience?   

Because our real-time LoanServ data communicates directly with Account Connect, we are making very fast progress on Account Connect being the dashboard for a borrower to manage their whole homeownership lifecycle. 

It begins with the basics like showing loan balances, making payments, and showing amortization schedules in real time. 

It then gets more engaging when servicers can enable borrowers to model interest cost savings and faster payoff times by applying extra principal or refinancing. 

Integrating rate data from your product and pricing engine lets servicers show rate-and-term or cash-out refinance scenarios to borrowers based on market, home improvement, debt consolidation, or other opportunities — all of which improve retention.  

And it’s especially important for retention if servicers can give borrowers a real-time lens on their home(s), valuation, and also enable full-MLS search. 

This is how all of us in loan servicing must redefine lifetime customer care, retention, and engagement.  

What does it mean to redefine “customer for life” in loan servicing?

The entire lending and banking industry talks about the concept of “customer for life” but loan servicing must be a bigger part of this conversation. 

Think about how it works: origination, sales, and marketing teams engage customers fully from top to bottom of the funnel, close the loan, then servicing takes over for the life of the loan.

But as I noted above, it’s not just the life of the loan customers have today. Servicing must engage customers for any lending needs they have over their life of borrowing and homeownership.

Now that software like Sagent’s has made servicers highly efficient at collecting payments, administering impounds, and managing accounting and compliance, it’s time to expand into lifetime customer engagement in the ways described above.

Servicers are best-positioned for lifetime customer engagement because they can use Sagent’s Account Connect borrower and property data to keep borrowers informed about their largest asset — their home — and present relevant options to optimize their finances or even buy a new home. 

If originators are the finders of new customers, servicers must be the keepers of those customers.   

What are the biggest short- and long-term challenges for servicers? 

The biggest short-term challenge is the current crisis we face together, the impact of COVID on American homeownership.  Servicers, and the entire industry, must provide exemplary customer care in a quickly changing environment.  Compliance with evolving regulations, relief efforts, and investor guidelines must be distilled and made available to borrowers so they receive the benefits of agency, investor, and government relief.  

The biggest long-term challenge is the continuing challenge of customer retention.  Earning a customer for their borrowing and homeownership lifetime is the goal.  This requires truly understanding your borrower and engaging each meaningfully.  Engagement leads to happier customers and happier customers mean increased value of MSRs.

Above, we’ve just begun to describe what a comprehensive servicing product suite can do. In our upcoming installments, I’ll dive deeper into how Account Connect, LoanServ, and Tempo enable servicers to take control of both of these challenges.  

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