“A couple of years back, mobile was considered a trend, and it was a bonus if you had a website that worked on people’s smartphones. Now if you don’t have that, you’re not doing things right,” Stargate director Scott Spencer says.
Putting the focus on the customer
For technology providers in the real estate industry, putting a greater focus on the customer has meant developing products with the real estate professionals in mind. For real estate professionals, this means learning to use technology to empower their customers.
Helping the client help themselves
Focusing technology use on customer experience means paying attention to shifts in customer behavior. One of these shifts is an increasing propensity toward self-service. Spencer said the downside of this trend is that real estate professionals often have to dispel misconceptions.
“The biggest problem is that there is just enough information for the customer to be dangerous. That’s where the real estate professional’s value proposition is to defuse where the customer is thinking they got the right information versus what the reality actually is. There are buyers out there thinking they’re armed with the right information and that they know enough, and they don’t,” Spencer says.
Building social media credibility
One of the driving factors behind clients seeking more involvement and self-determination in the home loan process is social media. Spencer said social media as a tool has often been misunderstood in the industry. Real estate professionals have been told time and again of its importance, but few have been given a clear strategy.
“The whole scenario around social media as a business tool is misunderstood. People think they should be able to jump on social media and straight-away be able to market to them. Social media is not about being a marketing platform. Yes, it can generate some leads using the advertising platforms that sites have in place, but that’s just basic advertising in the digital world. What most people fail to realize is that social media is more about becoming a trusted adviser,” Spencer says.
And this trend, Spencer says, can be a competitive advantage to real estate professionals, provided they put the time in to positioning themselves as a trusted adviser on social media platforms.
Using data wisely
Another benefit of technology is the power it gives real estate professionals for data use. CRM platforms contain a wealth of customer data, and Lees says this is data that can be used intelligently.
But Spencer warns that real estate professionals must be clear about how they want to use the data. He argues that collating data, in and of itself, was of little use. Instead, he says it is important to determine the right questions to ask before looking for the answers in the wealth of data available.
“If I think about what the industry might look like in the future, there’s a real shift from completing a transaction to providing an ongoing service to customers. That’s service that real estate professionals are increasingly providing. I’m keen for us as an industry to arm real estate professionals with more data to assist in managing ongoing relationships with customers."
Technology is the catalyst for a major shake-up in the way businesses operate, and the real estate industry is no different. Not only are technological innovations changing real estate professionals' capabilities, they’re also changing the way customers interact and the expectations they bring to the home loan process. What may seem a trendy bit of consumer technology one day quickly becomes a business essential the next.