PennyMac is a national financial services firm that specializes in producing and servicing mortgage loans. They are one of the top mortgage lenders in the U.S., and since 2008, they have worked with more than 2 million homeowners and serviced over $473 billion in home loans.
PennyMac’s customer service department in the mortgage fulfillment division is responsible for assisting customers who call in with questions about loan processing—a complex topic that requires knowledge of different policies, regulations, and steps of the procedure. Customer service representatives need to be able to search for and surface this knowledge so that they can provide timely assistance and deliver an excellent customer experience. With regulations in the financial services industry changing quickly, they also need to be confident that the information they are accessing and sharing is up to date.
Before 2021, the department primarily relied on Google Sites and emails to share and transfer customer service knowledge. Knowledge base content was organized in a large Google Doc with links to articles.
This knowledge management system posed several challenges. First, as the knowledge base grew, it became increasingly difficult and time consuming to navigate. “It had so many topics and links that it was becoming hard to find information,” said Trudy Stoner, Manager of Instructional Design.
Additionally, when information wasn’t already available through the Google Doc, it was challenging to find an answer in real time. Employees could submit questions through a Google Form, and one of the knowledge base managers would then track down a subject matter expert, document their answer, and add it to the knowledge base. According to Stoner, this process could take up to one or two weeks.
PennyMac recognized that they needed a new knowledge management system that would:
-Make customer service knowledge searchable within a single platform
-Allow subject matter experts to provide timely answers to questions
-And ensure customer service representatives were accessing the most up-to-date information
When PennyMac began searching for a new knowledge management platform, Krista Singleton, VP of Training, recommended Bloomfire. Singleton had used Bloomfire at a previous company and felt it would be a strong fit for PennyMac based on the ease of searching in the platform and the white glove implementation services. “When I joined PennyMac, there was no question of looking at another platform,” Singleton said. “The people at Bloomfire are absolutely amazing, and the implementation process is so organized.”
PennyMac’s chief goal in implementing Bloomfire was to put knowledge into customer service representatives’ hands quickly. They not only wanted to make knowledge easy to access, but also easy to understand and apply. They named their Bloomfire instance PennyMac Snacks as a nod to the fact that it houses bite-sized, digestible content that customer service representatives can pull up and use while they work.
Because Bloomfire deep indexes all content across file types, it allows users to find relevant content based on a keyword search, even if they don’t know the exact name of the document they are looking for. This helps customer service representatives find answers to customer questions in real time, reducing the need to place customers on hold. “With Bloomfire, customer service reps can type a question that a client asks them over the phone, and because of that deep indexing, it pulls up the information they need to answer that client,” said Stoner.
This self-service searching has proved especially valuable since PennyMac’s customer service representatives have been working remotely. “In this virtual environment, it’s really hard to find someone to answer your question when you have a client on the phone, and that’s one of the big reasons we implemented Bloomfire—so people have that knowledge exactly when they need it,” said Singleton.
PennyMac is also using Bloomfire’s built-in Q&A engine to empower customer service representatives to post questions in the platform and get a response from a subject matter expert. When a user publishes a new question in PennyMac Snacks, subject matter experts are notified, and an SME with relevant knowledge documents the answer so that all representatives can benefit from it. This helps grow the organization’s knowledge base over time, preserve the expertise of SMEs, and uncover areas where there may be knowledge gaps to fill. It has also reduced the average time it takes employees to get answers. According to Stoner, it typically takes no more than a day for questions to be answered in PennyMac Snacks, and most are answered in one to two hours.
Since launching PennyMac Snacks in May 2021, customer service and training leaders have received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the platform from frontline customer service employees. Notable quotes from platform users include:
“I work evenings when some of my coworkers are off for the day, so some nights I might have to handle questions that I don’t have the immediate answer to, and PennyMac Snacks has helped me answer my customers’ questions with a prompt and accurate response. It has made my role so much easier, and I can provide a great customer experience.“
“PennyMac Snacks has helped me because it’s an easy-to-follow informational guide that lays out concepts in clear language using relevant examples and imagery, which makes it a trusted resource. It increases productivity and performance, reducing waste. Most of all, it has improved my knowledge of policies and goals.“
“PennyMac Snacks has been a great resource that helps me get quick answers to questions or scenarios. It has reduced the number of emails and pings that I need to send my coworkers. When I have a question with a borrower on the phone, I use PennyMac Snacks, and I suggest that everyone take advantage of it.”
Recognizing that knowledge management is an ongoing activity and that employees will be most successful when they can self-serve knowledge assets, PennyMac has customized the appearance of PennyMac Snacks to be inviting and engaging, and they have added content that encourages employees to check in on a regular basis.
The platform houses a range of materials, from job aids and onboarding materials to leadership spotlights and podcasts. According to Stoner, PennyMac uses podcasts and videos to provide opportunities for micro-learning, breaking down complex topics into approachable segments that employees can review when they have a few minutes.
These efforts to make PennyMac Snacks an engaging community for learning and real-time knowledge access have paid off: more than 86% of customer service employees who have access to PennyMac Snacks are active in the platform. These engaged employees use PennyMac Snacks to continually learn, quickly tap into the knowledge they need to assist customers, and deliver timely, accurate information that contributes to a positive customer experience.