Tappter and Kerfuffle teamed up to host a round table event at the Hoxton Hotel in London. The esteemed attendees included some of the most influential figures in the UK property industry including Nathan Emerson (Propertymark) , Vicky Bibiris (Location Location) , Kristjan Byfield (Base & The Depositary), Davinia & Gary Taylor (Northwood), Graeme Wadhams (Seymours), Liana Loporto (WIEA), Amy Shields (Smart Compliance) and Paul Morgan (Arun Estates). The event was chaired by Simon Whale (Kerfuffle) and hosted by Tappter and their co-founder Keith Banwaitt.
The goal was to explore the opportunities that digitisation can provide for estate agents, including the use of new technologies such as WhatsApp. Together, they discussed the challenges and potential solutions that could help modernise the industry and make it more efficient.
The digitisation of businesses is becoming increasingly important as the world moves towards a more digital economy. Digitalisation allows companies to increase efficiency and streamline operations, creating a more cost-effective and efficient way of doing business. It also allows companies to better serve their customers by providing them with more convenient and engaging customer experiences.
Everyone understands the concept of digitisation, that of turning the analogue into digital but how and where in practice do you start?
What can we learn from other industries? Who has done it well?
We can look to other industries who have successfully implemented digitalisation initiatives. The retail industry is a great example; by using digital tools like e-commerce, companies are able to provide customers with more convenient shopping experiences and increase their bottom line.. Other industries, such as the hospitality industry, have been able to use digital tools such as mobile check-in, online booking, and automated customer service systems to improve the customer experience.
Nathan Emerson said if he was starting a new agency tomorrow his first recruit would be in marketing. His view on the importance of prioritising customer experience is echoed by many businesses across different sectors. Companies understand that in order to remain competitive they need to focus on providing a great customer experience. This means investing in digital tools and platforms that will allow them to better engage with their customers and provide them with an enhanced customer experience.
Compiling customer profile data, which in turn aids greater personalisation, is an important part of the process. It’s therefore important that internal staff, especially sales people who naturally prefer to engage conversationally versus doing admin tasks, are provided with tools that make the most of their natural personalities whilst contributing towards a digital customer profile in parallel – there is a trend towards “conversational” customer experiences which allows everyone involved to feel connected as humans. In property, that manifests with people feeling happier and more productive whilst working through what would otherwise be stressful processes.
As part of the session we asked “How important is it to you as a company that you prioritise customer experience, on a scale of 1-10”. Unsurprisingly the response was overwhelming and scored 96 out of 100, reinforcing the importance of committing to digitalisation as part of your company’s overall communications strategy.
By investing in digital tools, companies are able to ensure that they are providing their customers with an enhanced customer experience and staying ahead of the competition. Digitalisation also allows companies to take advantage of new revenue and value-producing opportunities, helping them to remain competitive and successful.
What are the challenges of digitisation?
When it comes to digital transformation, the biggest challenge that companies face is often budget constraints. Most companies simply don’t have enough money to invest in the infrastructure and personnel required to ensure a successful transition to a digital platform. Additionally, many companies lack the organizational structure needed to effectively manage the shift to a digital environment. A clear strategy for digitisation needs to be established with specific goals and objectives in order to ensure success.
Another common problem is the lack of expertise necessary to lead digitisation initiatives. Without a clear understanding of the various platforms and tools available, it can be difficult for companies to make informed decisions about how best to use these technologies. Furthermore, it is critical to have experts on hand who understand the compliance related issues such as GDPR that must be adhered to when carrying out digital transformations.
Finally, there is always the risk of employee pushback. Companies need to be cognizant of how their staff will react to any changes that come with digital transformation and ensure that they are properly educated and supported throughout the process. This includes investing in the right internal Comm’s team, who can help ensure employees are aware of any changes and willing to embrace them.
Vicky Bibiris was very clear that anything that simply added to additional work even with the intent of saving time and energy was a non starter and that far too many Proptech solutions fell into this category.
The Key questions that were debated:
- How important is it to you as a company that you prioritise customer experience, on a scale of 1-10?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the customer experience your business provides today?
- Rank those comms tools your business currently uses in terms of importance? (Tools included Telephone, Email, Direct Mail, Text Messaging, Facebook, WhatsApp etc
- What are the largest barriers to digital transformation? (Barriers included Limited Budget, Organisational Structure, Employee Pushback, Compliance related issues, eg. GDPR etc
- What have you done to date to try and digitise your business?
For full answers and access to the white paper see below.
How can you overcome these challenges?
Communication is key when it comes to overcoming the challenges of digitising your estate agency. It’s essential to make sure that everyone involved in the process understands what the goal is, and how to reach it. It’s also important to set clear expectations for everyone involved in order to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. As well as setting expectations, it is important to be open and honest with all stakeholders, and use effective communication techniques such as holding regular meetings and conference calls.
It is also important to ensure that your team is up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in the industry, so they can leverage this knowledge to improve their practices. This could include attending industry events, conferences, or seminars; reading relevant materials and resources; or seeking out professional advice. Additionally, by investing in quality staff training, you can provide them with the skills they need to make the most out of digital solutions.
Finally, establishing a strong online presence is an essential part of succeeding in the digital world. Investing in professional website design, content creation, and digital marketing will help you reach a wider audience, generate more leads, and increase sales. Having a strong social media presence can also be beneficial for building relationships with potential customers and providing valuable insights into customer behaviour.
What are the benefits of digitisation?
Digitisation of the property industry brings with it a wide range of benefits that can be harnessed to increase efficiency, drive growth and improve customer service. Digitising your estate agency can help you streamline processes, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction and create an effective online presence.
By digitising your agency, you will gain access to a range of innovative technologies that can help you better manage customer relationships and keep up with changing market conditions. This includes the use of automated customer relationship management (CRM) systems, automated marketing communications (Comm’s) tools, and digital asset management systems. These technologies enable you to track customer activity, create targeted campaigns, and monitor and respond to customer inquiries in real-time. Additionally, they provide you with valuable data that can be used to analyse trends and make informed decisions about your business.
Digitising your agency also offers greater opportunities for collaboration with other estate agents and potential customers. You can create customised content to showcase properties and communicate more effectively with customers. Furthermore, digitisation helps to build trust with customers by providing them with transparent and secure access to data and services.
What are the other human benefits? For estate agents, anxiety is created due to not getting paid until a sales / tenancy actually completes. That’s a lot of upfront effort being invested at risk. From a customer perspective, the thought of losing out on the dream home can leave them feeling frantic and stressed. Is it possible for technology to help to reduce such mental health impacts? Can a technology stitch together not just businesses and the communication flow between them, but also include the customer as part of the conversation to leave everyone more informed? And, is this possible without requiring complex technical / API integrations which come with significant budgetary / implementation considerations?
Ultimately, digitisation helps estate agents to stay ahead of their competition and stay connected with their customers, resulting in increased productivity, improved customer service and more successful sales.
“What’s the cost of NOT implementing a digital strategy?”
Whilst there were many different views on the initial steps needed to digitise, everyone was on the same page that doing nothing wasn’t an option. It was clear there was consensus that those agents that got ahead of the wave in this would have a demonstrable strategic advantage over those that stayed analogue. Simply stated digitisation doubles down on what tech is meant to do in the first place, namely that of ‘doing more with less’. Scalability in a digitised business is far easier to manage.
At the end of the round table discussion between the UK property industry leaders, the consensus was clear. While digitisation may present some challenges, it is essential for the successful operation of modern estate agents. That said, whilst it digitisation was important, the majority view was that people buy houses from… people. It’s therefore hugely important to not lose the personal touch when adopting technology, but rather find that important balance to ensure the technology complements the people. Simply put, digitisation helps you scale the personal message better than ever before.
In order to overcome these challenges, it is important to look for innovative solutions that can bring together all the comm’s involved in a property transaction into one cohesive story. Investing in software and technology that can do this will help make sure the customer’s journey is seamless and efficient. In short, embracing digital transformation and working to integrate multiple systems is key to success in a fast-paced, ever-evolving market.
If you’d like to take part in the white paper itself and as a result receive further insights then please take a few minutes here to get involved and put your own thoughts on the subject. We’ll be providing a simple step by step guide of how to progress your own digitisation journey.
For any companies that would like to be considered for part of the Trailblazer programme around digitisation of comm’s that Tappter are running please drop a line to [email protected]