How Online Entrants are Impacting the Estate Agency Business
The estate agency industry is in a period of disruption and the future of traditional estate agents is under attack from new online entrants. It is a simple fact that estate agents that fail to move with the digital age will mean some not being there anymore.
The online estate agent market is forecast to quickly grow to over 10% of the overall sector, which would equate to roughly 160,000 properties a year. A plethora of firms operate in the space that include Purple Bricks, Sell My Home, easyProperty and Sarah Beeny's Tepilo.
Online estate agents are able to offer cheaper fees than traditional high street agents because they have fewer fixed overheads. Vendors can put their property up for sale in minutes – and see it appear on places like Zoopla and Rightmove for no extra cost – rather than go through the often laborious process of speaking to a high street agent.
Estate Agents Need to Digitalise Now to Remain Relevant
If an estate agent is to harness the digital age to remain relevant, let alone drive their business forward, they need to act now. Their approach has to go way beyond the normal expected attributes of punctuality, courtesy, respect, consideration and sincerity. It has to be a strategic initiative driven from the company’s board throughout the whole organisation.
For all organizations, there has never been a better time to use digital assets to find a different, better faster way of doing things. The technology is there; it’s time to put aside excuses and take advantage of digital transformation.
“Digitisation is changing the world faster than ever, comments Rob Coleman, Unifi Communications Collaboration Specialist “and businesses that act on it now will put themselves in a position to grow. Those that do not will struggle to be relevant, with many going out of business.”
Offer Superior Levels of Customer Service
For a traditional estate agent to survive just offering good levels of customer service is no longer enough. There has to be a WOW factor. Customer service levels that will make people talk about you. And this always means going beyond what is expected.
Estate agents embracing the numerous benefits of Collaboration technology are helping to solve the business challenge of offering these levels of superior customer service and at the same time cutting operational costs. Research has shown that the telephone remains the number one choice on how a property buyer or seller wishes to communicate with their agent but a huge 81% wants to have a dedicated account manager. How does a traditional estate agency business offer this service inexpensively and effectively when their staff are very mobile and often not in the office?
However, e-mail, text and social media quickly follow voice as the customer’s first choice of communication method. An estate agent who does not allow a customer to communicate or be responsive to these various communication channels will quickly lose ground to those businesses adopting the latest technologies.
“Our customers are only starting to come to terms with these new types of communication channels but it is imperative that they do so to provide the required customer service levels to stay profitable. For example, if someone is tweeting about their business the customer service staff must react to these tweets promptly” adds Rob Coleman “A whole new generation of home buyers are now entering the market who will want to communicate with video. This will deliver even more challenges that estate agents will struggle to solve. We understand that Digital transformation is a huge undertaking for our customers and not something they can deliver alone. What we do is to help customers complete the digital journey.”
Interestingly, even with the many benefits of collaboration poor communication was the single biggest cause of complaints to the Property Ombudsman in 2014. In the 21st century when there are so many instant methods of communication it is a strange position for the estate agent industry to find themselves.
Estate Agents Need to use Technology to Solve Their Business Challenges
There has never been a better time to solve some of these challenges in business and society with technology and organizations are looking for a partners, such as Unifi Communications, to navigate the changing world.
Within the estate agency industry, another example of how digitalisation can be used is to improve the way staff are trained. In a highly regulated industry on-going training is essential but instead of delivering this in the traditional classroom based way it can be delivered more effectively on-line without the need for staff to waste valuable time and money on travel.
Video is also another prime example of how an estate agent can use technology to improve customer service and utilise their staff’s expertise more effectively. Customers can meet with experts or their account manager face to face easily and effectively by providing high quality video capability within the branch. “This is one way the traditional estate agent can fight back against the on-line agents as they will never be able to offer this level of customer service or intimacy” adds Rob Coleman.
To find out how Unifi Communications can help you complete the digital journey, please contact us today