Philipp has been with CHECK24 Loans for three years and has progressed from Junior to Professional Product Manager. We met him to talk about his role, why he loves his job, and the characteristics a Product Manager should possess.
Exactly. I’m the Product Owner of a team with another Product Manager and five software developers. We have groups for every customer area. For example, in addition to my ‘Lead to Sale’ group, there are also the ‘App,’ ‘Visit to Lead,’ and ‘Digitalisation’ teams. We also have sections for our back office: a CRM tool for our credit advisors and a group for bank integration.
The ‘Lead to Sale’ area is the area the customer arrives after the application process and submits all relevant information for comparing a loan. This page is where they receive all of the offers presented by the banks. We aim to lead the customer quickly and efficiently to the most reasonable offer. To do this, we have to check that all questions have been answered and are accurate and technically fast in our user experience communication so that the customer doesn’t have to wait.
On the one hand, I create a road map before the start of each quarter which gives our management an overview of future projects and features with potential timings. The plan for the coming quarter is then based on this. On the other hand, I don’t just plan projects and features but also look after implementing them. I always need to respond to any bugs and evaluate their priority by asking questions such as: How many customers are affected? How severe is the restriction? I’ll either talk to the developers immediately to resolve the issue or write it in the backlog for later.
Firstly, it’s about recognizing the customers’ needs and identifying new features. This is ideally data-driven. Features can involve small, individual changes on the website or the creation of entirely new areas. More significant features are always presented to management.
Planning new features involve communicating with the entire team. However, this isn’t difficult as we are divided into smaller units that only look after one particular area. I’m also on hand to answer questions about technical implementation and test the features, mainly from the customer perspective and give feedback to the developers. In addition, we often carry out A/B tests on all environments before roll-out to analyze the success of the features. If everything works and there are no bugs, the quality goes live.
We present individually tailored quotes on the page where the customer receives loan offers. We want to provide as personalized a recommendation as possible that is the best product for the customer. The challenge here is to ensure that we build the user experience so that customers receive the necessary information in a transparent, straightforward way and don’t have to scroll much to find the best offer. They should be able to see what’s relevant for them through clear, visual communication.
We also want to give customers who have already secured loans the opportunity to save even more retrospectively with these loans. Many customers don’t know that existing loans can be replaced with cheaper loans to save money for the customer each month. The challenge here is mainly the different banking guidelines. We need to present this to the customer in an easily understandable, visually appealing way.
Generally, the freedom to plan and optimize the product based on your idea. Of course, we orientate ourselves around the customer and CHECK24 values. The features themselves are mainly formed through own research, own thoughts, and own creativity. And you have an immediate customer impact with your work - once a part goes live, our customers can see and use it.
All the projects I’m involved with are unique and never the same. A feature can be rolled back, expanded, or added to additional devices. But we never have to build the same part multiple times.
And above all, the international environment - We have a good atmosphere, engaging conversations, and many different impressions as people from various cultures work together here. Everyone works on-site, including the techies, which is rare. Many companies work with remote developers, so social interaction can often get lost. That’s not the case here.
I love the complexity of the product and the number of optimization approaches. We use lots of artificial intelligence or machine learning, for example, to fill out fields in advance or transfer information to the banks so that customers have less work to do or to present customers with individually tailored quotes. Of course, we work with banks and various fintech that allow the digitalization of loan development and our pioneering technical role.
Philipp: For me, all guidelines play an important role, particularly.
Unconditional customer focus: We focus on the customer as they know best which offers or website features are important to them. We constantly track and analyze this and incorporate it into our DNA.
Maneuverable speedboats: Due to the complexity and size of loans, this superstructure is essential for us to guarantee rapid decision-making and implementation.
Targeted culture of discussion: There are always many opinions and debates regarding features. Once a decision has finally been agreed upon, we all stand behind it.
Openness and willingness to learn: Since each project is unique, we always approach them with a fresh mindset and interest in new knowledge.
I’ll always refer to our guidelines here. It would help if you had a willingness to learn and a technical interest. You should be open to other ideas and approaches and never be too proud to adapt your original approach if needed. Despite this, it’s essential to be able to express your opinion and defend it.
Of course, you’ll need to understand every aspect of your product. You also need to
Be agile - no sprint or project goes according to plan. Either technical aspects get in the way that requires changes, or urgent matters have to be dealt with along the way. You need to keep sight of the goal but be flexible enough to adapt.
Prioritise - No matter how many developers you employ, there’s always a lack of IT capacity. That’s why it’s essential to weigh up the customer benefit of the project with the workload required.
Communicate - CHECK24 Loans is a highly complex product with many teams that are all specialists in their area. Therefore, planning larger projects involves communicating what the feature should contain and obtaining expertise from the right people.