Five Key Takeaways from Our First Ever Realogy & Coldwell Banker Product Summit
This summer, one could argue that The Product Studio and Realogy ABT dev teams were really starting to gain their stride. If you had a checklist for high performing product teams, we were nailing the important marks:
- Everything we were building was backed by heavy validation
- We resolved most bugs as soon as they were reported
- Our product owners were in touch with the customers’ needs and driving a roadmap toward the future
Our team had developed incredible empathy with customers and we were seeing our product usage, NPS scores and adoption grow. Although on paper we were headed in the right direction, there is no question, it came at significant cost. The product and dev teams were constantly in a state of urgency. Things that were critical were prioritized over things that were urgent. And with so many voices and priorities, trying to create order focused on what really mattered for the users, often became challenging, if not impossible.
Then the call came in – “We want to schedule a Product Summit in Northern California with all of the key product leaders and members of the senior leadership team including Ryan Gorman, Tim Foley, Jeff Krupp and Mike Fischer.”
Truthfully, at first, I said to myself, “This is not what we need right now! We need focus – not more meetings!” In retrospect, this meeting ended up being 36 hours that changed everything. For the first time, we brought together product and senior leaders from Realogy, NRT and the CB Brand. Coldwell Banker President and CEO Ryan Gorman challenged us ahead of the meeting, describing the objective of the meeting as, “It is for us to flag opportunities for greater alignment, uncover duplicative or converging functionality and find ways to massively accelerate getting where we are going, and ideally killing plenty of ideas to make space for great new ideas.” In true Gorman fashion, he also encouraged, “We’ll want lots and lots of discussion – hopefully even debate! And, if we’re really good, conflict!”
The result was a power packed day and a half where we listened, learned, challenged each other and built out our vision for the future – all behind one simple principle – helping our agents live exceptional lives. Many of you have asked me what did you discuss at the summit? What was the result? So I’m sharing my top five takeaways and how I truly believe that 36 hours changed everything:
- One CB – While the news of One Coldwell Banker was not known by most of us in attendance, there was a common push by members of our senior leadership to identify areas of redundancy between brand and NRT specific tools and work to eliminate them. The common theme: let’s identify those areas, agree to developing a gap analysis between each, remove bias and then make an informed decision about the future of the product. Fast forward to last week’s announcement about One Coldwell Banker and the objective becomes even more clear. Now the Coldwell Banker NRT product team and the product team at the brand, are working closely to build out those gap analyses by product to really understand where our best opportunities lie. Lots of work to do here but what we know is that we are all aligned in the objective and in the long run, that alignment means less noise, a simplified toolset and more resources to put towards the products that matter most. In the end, that equates to our ability to deliver products faster to market, quicker to resolve issues and focus on really driving product adoption. See, I told you it changed it everything!
- CRM Strategy Clarity – With the news of the new Product & Innovation Team at the Realogy level and in working with my colleague, Chris Padilla, who will lead that product team, we gained further clarity on the future of our CRM and brand/broker/agent website strategy, too. Chris’ team will be driving this important initiative as well as products that are offered across Realogy. Examples include: Realogy CRM, Broker/Brand Websites, EverClient, AgentX and The Learning Platform, among others. The Product Studio will continue to drive its own products including Desk, the Concierge Suite, Prospect Square, Moxi Present, InSight, MarketQuest and more. And we’ll be much more tightly aligned with the brand’s product team which oversees the CBx suite of applications.
- Open Ecosystem – Possibly the most exciting resolution we landed on (for me) was really defining our open ecosystem strategy and how it compares to the competition. We spent time really defining what differentiated our strategy from the others. In the end, my biggest takeaway: With Compass saying they are building the “end to end” solution, our open ecosystem strategy is what differentiates us. While the Realogy-level CRM product is more than sufficient for many of our agents, we also recognize that just as the business needs of agents vary greatly, so, too, do their needs for technology services and CRM solutions. Thus, we are building out an open ecosystem in which it offer four levels of integration options from which CRM partners may choose. Via these leveled partnerships, CRM partners may plug into the company’s powerful ecosystem to offer discounted rates, connectivity to the company’s agents, integration into our product suite, Desk, and more. Keller says they are taking on a similar approach but it seems pretty clear they are doing so off the backs of the agents with pay to play enterprise deals. Our new strategy of leveraging our buying power to the benefit of the agent along with an open ecosystem that helps agents work with their preferred partners with ease, is truly unique. This is truly a game changer and will be a priority for my team to fully define and execute on in the months ahead. I’ll be sharing more about this strategy during the next TMAP for Agents.
- Prioritizing Agent Experience Improvements – I’ve spoken extensively about our need to prioritize several key agent experience improvement benefits within all of our products. And while we’ve made great progress—I am pleased to share that by end of month, one of the first will be resolved, Unlicensed Assistant access will be live across all markets—there is still much to be done. The meeting resulted in everyone being aligned in knowing that continued work needs to be done to solve these important user experience requirements across all Realogy and NRT products:
- Team friendly applications
- Profile management
- Contact syncing
- Multi-metro agents
- 2020 Planning & Prioritization – Finally, we began plotting out and prioritizing what was most critical for 2020. Gorman, Foley and other members of the SLT were very focused on “killing” things that wouldn’t make the biggest impact for our agents and working to ensure the resources and time we have, are spent on truly making a notable difference. The result was a much more focused and with the work above planned to reduce redundancy and align our resources, I am confident we are going to see great things in the coming year.
I’m telling you, that 36 hours changed everything for me. Game on, 2020! Together, I can’t wait to see where we take product next.