There is much that companies in the mortgage industry can learn from some of the world’s most innovative companies. Many of these companies have revenue streams that rival the gross national products of many countries, annual budgets than can finance entire economies on their own, and earnings that influence trading in every stock market around the globe. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft, for example, have changed the world and have inspired others in all types of businesses. The strategies each of these companies can teach us are countless. One of them is at the core of how PCLender has grown—and is an invaluable lesson every company should embrace.
So what strategy have Amazon, Microsoft and PCLender all embraced? Allow me to explain.
For many companies, their best ideas have come from their customers. Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon based on the principle of efficiently delivering products and allowing its customers to write and review feedback on its products and services. They have since refined that feedback process and have over 54 million US members spending over $1,000 per year. Amazon’s feedback loop and processes are one of the finest in the world. Today Amazon is the largest internet based retailer and in 2015 surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.
At the turn of the current century, Microsoft decided to explore its customers as a source of competency and enlisted the input of hundreds of thousands of users in its testing of the latest version of Windows. A Harvard Business Review article at the time noted that the challenges of maximizing customer/user input are many: “Companies have to engage their customers in an active, explicit, and ongoing dialogue; they have to mobilize communities of customers; they have to manage customer diversity; and they have to co-create personalized experiences with customers.” While Microsoft is not known for the sexiest applications, they always seem to surpass the competition with product market share because of their relentless pursuit of refinements.
What does that have to do with the mortgage business and PCLender? It’s simple: the best ideas often come from a company’s customers or users. It’s a concept we take very seriously. When you’re a software company–particularly one founded and run by mortgage bankers–you learn very quickly that there is no group more important than your users. They are the lifeblood for input and constant feedback, of course. But they are also far more – they are de facto innovators whose experience on your software platform is like a laboratory for future improvements. Like your employees, loyal users are engaged and very interested in your success simply because they will enjoy the fruits of that success in the form of greatly improved working experiences. So it’s only natural that we listen carefully to users. We bring them together in order to stimulate ideas that will enhance innovation and benefit the entire PCLender community.
And it is a community, complete with strong opinions, salient observations and highly useful ideas. We rely on user input to create our development roadmaps for the coming year, leveraging user comments as key components of our constant improvement initiatives.
While we are not talking about the numbers of people that Microsoft is dealing with, our community of 15,000 plus users are individually far more important because of the depth of each user’s commitment. If PCLender is not every bit as good as it can be, their businesses (and their individual careers) are impacted. Our users truly are our secret weapons, and we take their input very seriously.
At the same time, customers love to be heard. They understandably desire to provide information that will affect the most vital technology that lenders use every day, the LOS, both for practical and personal reasons. If they come across an issue that needs fine-tuning, our annual PCLender User Conference gives them an immediate means to discuss it. If they want to suggest an improvement that can make their jobs easier and save steps in the workflow, our User Conference gives them the opportunity to be heard in real time. The feedback we received on the merits of our User Conference this past October reflects just how pleased attendees were:
“The PCLender staff did a terrific job putting together a very worthwhile and meaningful conference. Please congratulate & thank your team for us.”
“The conference was one of the best we have attended in year, well organized and truly informative and relevant.
Above all, the key lesson here is to connect with users. Every company should embrace this, as we have done.
If you want to be part of a great community of industry experts and want to share your thoughts on PCLender, reach out to us! We will make sure your voice is heard loud and clear. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877.536.6886