When it comes to technology, the CRE industry is definitely reactive. Born from being burned by failed enterprise implementations in the early part of the century and the revelation that just because you build it doesn’t mean people will come, brokerages let clients call the shots.
In fact, large companies subject to various regulations and shareholders to answer have driven most of the consequential technology change in the CRE industry. Data standards so computer systems can communicate, secure storage systems and transaction portals – these are the results of large client demand.
The typical user rarely asks for a specific technology. But many agents are itching for the type of technology in place for large users to trickle down. So they’re taking matters into their own hands. Too often, though, innovation is driven by what the agent wants rather than the customer. Before you create the next big thing, take a look at the results from a survey by Microsoft. They asked customers how important technology is when selecting a company to do business with.
Security and Privacy
Customers want to know that any data they provide is secure and private – and that includes information collected from websites, social networks and any other place on the internet. Where and how do you store and deliver confidential documents? What happens when the deal is finished? Can you blast out a press release or give up the lease details? Often ignored in brokerage marketing, highlighting security and confidentiality may have more of an affect than you think.
Make the Customer’s Life Easier
If you can save a client time, they’ll appreciate it. But making a customer’s life easier doesn’t mean making them learn something new. And no. Just because you think it’s simple doesn’t mean they will. Build or select new tech that’s user friendly and that reduces complexity. Focus on the core features of the transaction – not bells and whistles that most people will never use. In the end, it’s all about being able to solve a problem or access information quickly.
Since everyone is on their phone, communications need to be mobile friendly. No sending GIANT files, mobile unfriendly emails or using desktop only apps for collaboration. Too many brokerages don’t bother to check how what they put on the web or send looks like on a mobile screen.
Clients coming into the office don’t like to see old hardware – like those big CRT monitors – scattered around the office. And they don’t want to download JAVA or only use a specific browser to access your ancient client portal. In fact, Microsoft’s survey found that over 90% of customers would not do business with a company that used outdated technology.
Brokerages would do well to use this as a guide when choosing in-house systems. Outdated technology or complex, insecure systems aren’t going to attract and keep modern day agents. After all, agents are customers too.