“Think Customer” in an Agile World
Housing markets and technology advancements move fast, making it doubly important for lenders and servicers to partner with technology companies that support their evolving business needs. For two decades, Black Knight has proudly committed itself to serving a diverse array of companies that drive the U.S. housing industry with software, powerful data and analytics. Underpinning our success has been a client- and borrower-centric approach to product development, which over the years we have honed into what we call the “Think Customer” approach.
Think Customer is a product development framework that is born of a commitment to prioritizing both client and homeowner needs, providing personalized support and continuously enhancing solutions based on client feedback. In short, we ask ourselves “How will this improve the homebuyer or homeowner experience?” in everything that we do.
Think Customer has been codified throughout our product, development and product delivery teams using Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) — a methodology used by leading global companies — to align our efforts with the end consumer needs. Having played a central role implementing Think Customer in select areas of the business, it is my pleasure to share the value it has brought to several servicing applications used by clients and in some instances, their customers too.
Embracing Think Customer has allowed our Servicing Digital product team to adopt a more dynamic development cadence that promotes expedited, customer-informed innovation. Releasing new code into clients’ test environments more frequently has allowed us to gather and incorporate client feedback more effectively and roll updates into production environments on a regular cadence more smoothly. Ultimately, this framework allows us to accelerate the pace of product enhancements and the development of new features that address our clients’ shifting market needs.
For instance, when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted in March 2020, Black Knight was able to act quickly. The CARES Act prohibited foreclosures for 60 days and allowed borrowers with federally insured mortgages to request forbearance for Covid-related hardships. As a result, there was an unprecedented volume of forbearance requests.
In response, the Servicing Digital product team quickly rolled out a Request Mortgage Assistance (RMA) capability in the consumer-facing servicing portal. The RMA capability presents homeowners with a self-service forbearance option that includes client-configurable general forbearance education and application guidance and the ability to upload supporting documents directly into the portal.
The RMA capability can also be a saving grace for borrowers during a time of immense stress. They can contact their servicer at their convenience to learn what payment options are available to them and apply for assistance online and forego call center hold times.
Servicers also benefit from the quick roll out feature, which can be implemented in as little as two weeks. The RMA capability helps servicers reduce customer service costs by requiring fewer resources while easing compliance in a changing regulatory landscape.
Personalized Support Begins at Pre-Production
Listening to our clients and rapidly incorporating their needs into our solutions is what drives us to provide extraordinary value. Here’s how we’ve formed product delivery teams to put the client’s needs and preferences at the forefront of everything they do, delivering a high-quality, personalized support experience during the planning and pre-production delivery phases of a product:
Client advocate: Each client is assigned a point of contact (POC) who works to become an expert in the client’s organization beginning at the outset of implementation. The POC meets with the client regularly, addressing questions, triaging issues and acting as an advocate for the client’s feature requests and enhancements. This centralized approach helps the voices of our clients and the end consumer be heard and acted upon.
Knowledgeable support: Black Knight’s product delivery POCs also stand as product experts, helping to enhance transparency and alignment with the product teams and engaging in Agile activities such as system demonstrations, program increment planning, all-hands meetings and release playbook reviews. This involvement helps the POC provide guidance to clients on how to optimize their use of our products.
To help clients and their borrowers get the most benefit out of products, the POC works with clients to walk through various configuration options, help them identify the best configuration for their business case and even assist them in the configuration process. The POC is there to help clients successfully deploy solutions and to provide the guidance and support they need every step of the way.
Real-time communication: All clients are given access to a platform that facilitates real-time communication with their POCs. The platform promotes ease of collaboration, allows clients to submit questions and potential issues, stay up to date on issue resolution status and serves as a hub for important update information such as roadmaps.
Feedback and improvement: Black Knight values both client and internal team feedback. Clients and internal team members are invited to rate the level of service provided through regular surveys. This feedback helps assess the team’s performance, identify areas for improvement and support the continued delivery of value and benefits to clients and their customers. Client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive to date and has helped improve overall client satisfaction.
Our Think Customer approach is more than a philosophy. Rooted in the Agile framework, it allows us to deliver product enhancements quicker, support client adoption and help them successfully support their borrowers. From dedicated POCs to knowledgeable support, clients have access to experts who understand their unique business requirements.
Embracing Think Customer has allowed us to adopt processes that promote agility, efficiency, and innovation — all so we can help our clients reach their unique business goals and attain a market advantage.