Everyone wants to disrupt the commercial real estate industry. Whether it’s a different kind of marketing platform, business process automation, new ways to finance or getting rid of the middleman, CRE disrupters are on it.
But disruption doesn’t happen just because someone wants it to. That’s because disruption is a two way street. And this quote from Jeff Bezos makes that clear:
“We don’t seek to disrupt, we seek to delight. If you invent something completely new and radical and customers don’t care about it, it’s not disruptive. Radical invention is only disruptive if customers love it.”
The stories behind the disruption I hear are usually ones of inefficiency and frustration. I couldn’t find all the listings I wanted or the leasing process is messy – so they decided to fix, AKA disrupt, things. Possible misuse of the word disruptive aside, I have never heard a developer say they want to delight the user. Make things easier, maybe. But not delight.
Maybe delight isn’t something you can infuse into the real estate process. But you sure don’t want to make people mad by at least not meeting their expectations. And users do have expectations when it comes to what they want in an app or platform especially when it’s meant as an alternative to those current frustratingly inefficient processes.
So just what do users – and that includes agents – expect? While many of these “wish list” features are based on the Millennial generation’s preferences, as a Baby Boomer, I’d like to see most of these features myself. Take a look to see how your app/site/platform stacks up.
Mobile Friendly Search
No one wants to do a lot of typing on a mobile device. Drop down lists, large enough links/radio buttons/check boxes for selecting criteria or filtering are a must. Offering or starting with a map search is a good idea, too, with easy to use filters after the user selects the area they’re interested in.
Adding the ability to save searches, individual listings or bookmark/mark favorites are especially convenient for mobile users.
Mobile – Period
There are some things you can’t do well on a small screen. But there’s plenty you can do if you’re designing with mobile in mind. Take the traditional web site. Even with responsive design, sometimes the translation to mobile – endless scrolling or lots of zooming – is not suitable for all purposes.
So consider a mobile app first. Mobile apps will have unique functionality that can’t easily be duplicated with a website. Things like access to contacts, calendars and other apps, location information and integration with built in phone functionality like notifications and social platforms.
At the very least, do things the other way around. Design an ideal mobile experience and then, if you even want to bother, adapt that to a full size site. And make sure users can easily add an icon, shortcut or widget to their screen for easy access.
Why not be able to schedule a showing? Integrate a scheduling service or app and avoid the back and forth emails and calls.
The ideal app would keep the all the information a user needs all in one place. And none of that download/upload/copy from an email or import from another app stuff. Everything is delivered or sent to the app or site as a matter of course.
Adding related information and tools are useful, too. Area information, nearby amenities, demographics, calculators, third party services/vendor lists, ratings and any other data you can think of all add value.
Push alerts for mobile apps or text or email alerts for new listings that meet the user’s criteria, appointment or task reminders, new documents and so on. Add a snooze or “remind me again” option.
Younger users have a definite preference for digital communication. Texts and social networks are top channels to keep them in the loop. They also like social network platforms for customer service type requests where they expect speedy responses. This type of communication should be integrated into your app/platform.
Electronic options to pay rents like direct withdrawals, credit card or even bitcoin payments are expected by Millennials who might not mind getting, but certainly don’t like writing, checks.