Last spring Alia Asaad, Product Manager at ImmoScout24, experienced what it really means to work in a large virtual team. It carried the name “Sold!” and had the mission to guide home sellers through the selling journey in its different phases and help them make the right decisions.
Alia started her career at the company as a Mobile Engineer more than three years ago, and made the switch to Product Management because she loves developing the vision of a product and defining its strategy. At ImmoScout24, she is responsible for the consumer experience on the website. “For me, the Home Seller Hub project is special in several ways,” Alia says, looking back at the three months she and her team were busy preparing for its creation.
In fact, it is a project with a cross (market) segment, a term describing a unit taking care of a customer subset, and a cross functional team. It differs from the standard operational mode at ImmoScout24, where a market segment usually concentrates on its own products and objectives. As such, the market segment for professional customers wants, for example, to increase agent leads, whereas the one for private customers focuses on gaining more private listings leads, and CXP (The Consumer Experience segment) aims to improve consumer satisfaction.
The Home Seller Hub project is what unites them because it calls for collaborative action. “Home sellers don’t care which market segment is behind a product. What matters is that they can find the support they need in order to sell a home when visiting ImmoScout24’s page,” Alia emphasises.
The project’s peculiarity doesn’t end here. It was also the first time for many teams to agree on a common OKR (Objectives and Key Results): a new goal setting framework which was recently implemented at Scout24 and allows teams to focus on goals, and have transparency and alignment throughout the company. In fact, everybody was now aiming for the same thing: ImmoScout24’s website becoming the place where home sellers start their selling journey.
But how does this collaborative action work? This was the birth of a virtual team consisting of Marketing Communications, SEO, Product, Engineering Managers from three market segments, along with Engineers, UX Researchers & Designers, and the Content team.
“It was a very interesting experience because we all came together using different expertises, to build a hub that covers all the needs of home sellers, and at the end would be beneficial for everyone,” confirms Daniela Fellmann, Team Lead Product Marketing for Home Sellers.
The project started with a kick-off meeting attended by representatives from different teams in February 2019. In the first three months, also internally known as a cycle, they were busy with the research phase, which included analysing first hand information from home sellers themselves who were interviewed and asked for feedback. “This direct interaction with our customers is always very exciting and valuable for us because it helps us adjust the prototypes accordingly, to their input,“ ImmoScout24, Senior User Experience Designer.
The team also realised they need to think big and define the user journey first, which consists of four phases of the home-selling process. In most cases, the development from considering the sale of a house to the finalisation of the actual sale takes three to six months for homeowners. The team came to the conclusion that the hub should be seen as a neutral consultant for home sellers, a place where they can find support for free. For the next step, the team categorised relevant contents and products, mapping them on the phases of the user journey.
In other words, whenever home sellers visit ImmoScout24 homepage, they will find all the necessary information regarding the sale of a house from start to finish. This sounds good but is, however, not good enough for the team. “Finding the right information is only one part of the big picture. We need more. If we think in a long term perspective, the contents on the hub have to be well structured and all the features have to be well presented,” Alia explains.
This turned out to be the next challenge. After agreeing on a uniform layout for the hub, the Engineering Team started developing the new templates, integrating the relevant products and programming the website. Bugs came in, pages were dashed to pieces, frustration was in the air but they kept on trying. By the beginning of May 2019, three months after the project initiation, the hub went live with 100 articles that answer the main questions when selling a property whereas the majority of them are newly created contents. In addition, seven products including property evaluation, demand check, and various lead funnels have been connected to the four phases of the user journey.
Explore the Home Seller Hub via mobile with these simple steps:
The way to this release was long. As with all projects with many participants from different teams , it took time to reach a common vision and ImmoScout24: the creation of a content hub as a neutral consultant for home sellers. To get everyone on the same page, some members of the team decided to use a simple and yet effective method: humour.
Alia and Alexander Kurt, Team Lead User Experience, organised a funny phone call with the two of them acting as a home seller (Alexander) and as a neutral consultant (Alia) who symbolises the hub. This helped them convince everyone in the team why it’s important to focus on neutral contents and the consumer first approach.
“The alignment with the market segments and on one single OKR was also another challenge,“ Alia notes. This was solved by a weekly OKR check-in to make sure everyone was going in the same direction, and to clarify the responsibilities for different work packages.
By now, the company has also strengthened its operational model by focusing on the user journey as a whole, the multiple touch points along the way as users move from the initial stages of research to eventual purchase, to get better alignment within the teams and build better products. In addition, it has merged the market segments into four main user journeys: Seeker, Rent, Sale and DevCom (Commercial and Developer customers) to support users in the best possible way.
As for now, the Home Seller Hub is a constantly changing platform that is being optimised continuously as it includes over 400 articles by now. As a matter of fact, the next development is already on the agenda: the focus on personalisation. Stay tuned…
Here’s a short video of Alia talking about the next steps for the Hub, what she has learnt, and why she is proud of this project.