When Keller Williams rolled out its end-to-end operational system, Command, in early 2019, the team ran fast and far in delivering a product that could streamline how agents do business and help them compete in an increasingly digital world. As the platform continues to grow and become an essential part of many businesses’ lead generation, marketing efforts, and database organization, it requires continuous dedication and thought in order to deliver the best possible experience to Command users and keep agents at the forefront of the business transaction.
Newly appointed Chief Technology and Digital Officer Chris Cox and Head of Agent Growth & Partner Experience Matt Green are on the frontlines of this commitment through a dynamic partnership that approaches technology from all angles, starting with the engineering itself, and zeroing in on the value that it brings to agents and their clients. “I have a responsibility to make sure we are building on a firm foundation and investing in the right things, while also figuring out how to increase the pace of innovation and differentiate us from our competition,” shares Cox, who has spent the past 25 years leading digital technology integration and strategy initiatives across industries such as financial services, healthcare, e-commerce, and telecommunications.
Balancing Cox’s technical lens, Green approaches the effort with an agent mindset. Having run his own successful real estate business and gone through a variety of leadership roles within Keller Williams, he has an intimate understanding of the intersection of real estate and technology. “The transactional business that we’re in is so complicated and requires such a fiduciary in really serving and supporting the needs of the client,” he says. “What I’m most excited about is, as we think about our value proposition to our partners who are in the trenches every day working with buyers and sellers, that we arm them with the technology they need to be great advocates for their clients.”
Thinking through the future of technology at Keller Williams, Cox envisions a user experience guided by radical simplicity, a concept he describes as delivering experiences that are intuitive and easy to navigate. “Radical simplicity requires focusing on capabilities that optimize agent and consumer experiences with features and functions that make the most of their experiences,” he shares. “It’s about aligning our teams on core agent and market center experiences: whether that is the act of lead generation, managing opportunities or closing a real estate transaction.” As Cox and Green continue to lead Keller Williams’ technology journey, here are the considerations and guiding principles they are keeping at the forefront of every decision.
- Think of technology as a home. Cox shares that he views this undertaking through an analogy that is very relevant to the industry which he now serves, looking at KW tech as a home of its own. “We have to make sure that we’re sitting on a firm foundation, maintain what we’ve built, and continue to build rooms in a way that makes going from one room to the other easy, simple, and elegant,” he shares. His work started with the foundation, through the 66-Day Challenge, a program designed to shore up the foundation of Command and make sure that the system is running smoothly at its most essential parts, creating sturdy building blocks that can sustain every facet of an agent or team business. “It has helped us improve engineering processes that will allow us to develop new technology and experiences quickly while not sacrificing quality,” he shares.
- Focus on the moments that matter. Within the business of real estate, there are a few defining moments that are essential to a business: generating a lead, or the moment when your client is ready to make an offer. “In those moments, you need technology that is easy to use, that is delightful, and that helps you feel confident that you are servicing your clients in an efficient, effective way,” shares Green. “I think about our technology from the perspective of how to nail some of these moments that matter, so that we are guiding folks in a way that gives them confidence to be working with us.”
- The work is ongoing. Technology projects generally have a beginning, middle, and end. But, Cox shares, that way of thinking often holds leaders back from revisiting and improving. “A better way to build is by dedicating teams to the perpetual improvement of experiences. In the meantime, these teams will get smarter about serving their clients,” he shares. This also starts with having a solid foundation, and continuously building upon it. Cox leads his teams to improve testing practices that ensure things are in a good spot before entering production, understand how agents and clients are interacting with all features in real time, and monitor and detect any issues before agents are impacted on the field.
- Source the right feedback. In attending a Stanford accreditation program alongside Head of Industry Jason Abrams, Green was introduced to the concept of design thinking. “How do we approach a problem so that we’re not influencing the answer, but instead truly getting at the root of the experience that the user is having?” he asks. A part of that is gathering the right feedback by tapping not just Command users, but those who use other platforms, and seeing the appeals and dislikes toward these products. “This really starts to uncover little nuggets of understanding that we can apply to our design strategy to ensure consistent, great experiences,” Green shares. “It’s a lot of asking questions, and asking questions the right way.”
- Technology is leverage. Ultimately, technology should be viewed as a point of leverage: the ability to do more with a tool than you would otherwise be able to do on your own. Technology should enable agents to be more effective, do more in a shorter period of time, and give more insights at their fingertips, allowing them to provide better guidance. ”We think of this from the standpoint of helping our agents become superheroes and supplying them with that super suit so that when they go into the field, they are armed with tools to provide value and differentiate themselves,” shares Green.
In describing the type of leadership himself and Cox are bringing at the forefront of KW technology, Green refers to a quote from the book Trillion Dollar Coach, detailing management lessons from business executive Bill Campbell. The quote reads: “Leadership is not about you. It’s about a service to something bigger: the company, the team.”
“As Chris and I lead our company in developing our tech, it’s really about listening and empathetic understanding,” Green shares. “Leadership accrues from those who we partner with over time. We are committed to earning that title of leaders because of them perceiving us as their valued partner and supporting them in their growth, keeping them at the center of the transaction.”