A Case Study In Technical Support Excellence

training education course with instructor and students

“Supporting our customers to ensure that they are successful and satisfied is our top priority at Ellie Mae,” says Matt Kade, Sr. Manager, Tech Support Service Management at Ellie Mae. “By investing in HDI certification training, we’ve empowered our technical support team with the skills and confidence to provide best-in-class customer support. And we don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.”

Ellie Mae is a software company that processes almost a quarter of U.S. mortgage applications. With an unwavering commitment to automate the residential mortgage process, Ellie Mae ensures lenders achieve what matters most in a hyper-competitive industry that demands compliance, quality, and efficiency.

Pretty serious mission statement, and as you might have guessed, achieving their lofty business goals is contingent on their running an exceptional support center. With offices across the country and thousands of customers seeking their services and technical support—it’s up to the Ellie Mae support organization to keep things running smoothly, all day every day. A herculean task, but the 147 dedicated people that make up the support organization are up to it.

Not Your Typical Support Organization

Working in the mortgage automation industry has its nuances when it comes to technical support. Where most support centers focus on usability vs. an incident—quickly resolving customer issues, that’s only part of the equation at Ellie Mae. Within the mortgage industry are many compliance rules and regulations, and often, extremely high stakes. The efficiency and reliability of their technical support can have serious implications where even minor oversights and inconsistencies can result in loans deemed unsellable, government fines, and big time ramifications on their bottom line.


Align and Conquer

From the very beginning, the collective goals of Ellie Mae’s support team could be summed up in three words: Best in class. Early on, they often didn’t document their processes, and those that they did were out of date. But they knew that in order to become “enterprise class” they needed consistency. They needed to drive metrics. They needed to put a governance in place that would keep things up-to-date, and they needed the technology and training to make it happen. So as part of the Ellie Mae technical support organization’s efforts toward continuous improvement, operational excellence, and staff development, the team recently invested in several role-based training efforts through a comprehensive HDI-led curriculum. For each role, HDI provided training, tools, and techniques to make the individual, team, and customer successful.

Today, each of their ninety tier 1 employees have earned HDI certification through HDI Support Center Analyst. This unwavering display of passion and commitment has resulted in Ellie Mae receiving the HDI Team Certified Pinnacle of Excellence Award—an honor acknowledging 100% staff certification.


Knowledge is Power

A little over two years ago, the Ellie Mae tech support team made a commitment to Knowledge-Centered Support. Why? Because it was clear they were hoarding knowledge. Nothing malicious, but the way in which individuals captured and stored knowledge was a bit… tribal. This caught the attention of the vice president, who quickly saw the need for the proper technology, methodology, and training— to make knowledge management a priority throughout the organization. It began with the leadership team. They became trained and certified in KCS Principles. The rest of the support team soon followed with KCS Foundations certification. Then they were ready to put the best practices and new skills to work. They modified their knowledge base, enhanced their process documents, and essentially created an organization-wide campaign around KCS. Posters and other marketing materials stressed the importance of knowledge management throughout the company. Training videos based on HDI’s KCS courses were created so those unfamiliar with the process could quickly get up to speed. They were all in on KCS. And before long, they were making significant, measurable strides.

Linking, validation, and demand rates all skyrocketed. So did customer satisfaction.


HDI Support Center Best Practices Assessment

Staffed and Ready For Continual Improvement

So how did they do it? How will they continue to do it? To quickly and effectively train and certify their staff, create a seamless onboarding process, and ensure the entire tech support team is up to speed on industry standards and best practices, Ellie Mae invested in HDI’s Certified Instructor program. They currently have two HDI certified instructors on staff who administer training and certification courses at their facility. Knowing they wanted to achieve and maintain 100% certification for their support staff, the HDI Certified Instructor program was a no-brainer. It provides Ellie Mae with a scalable, flexible, and costeffective way to achieve their goals.


They couldn’t track customer searches before KCS, but since implementation, these numbers speak for themselves.

ALL OF 2016

90,309 – Searches

59,954 – Views

FIRST 3 MONTHS OF 2017

90,029 - Searches

61,080 – Views

A clear indication Ellie Mae’s customers are gaining confidence and seeing the value in the knowledge they’re sharing.


Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

What’s next for the Ellie Mae tech support team?

As you’ve read, all tier 1 analysts and technicians are certified. Now for tier 2. In 2017, Ellie Mae will put an emphasis on training and certifying all managers and directors (currently about half have earned HDI certification). They’ll also be shining a spotlight on problem management, vowing to become certified in this critical support process in 2017 as well.

Ellie Mae has made an investment in their technical support team. An investment that has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, but one that’s paid dividends. SF Business Times Bay Area recently named them among the “Best Places to Work.” And for the past four years, they’ve been on the Deloitte Fast 500 list.


HDI Support Center Best Practices Assessment