Thursday, April 10, 2014

Technology... Helping people or replacing people?

We live in a world where technology is at the forefront of everything we do. These days children operate iPhones and buy apps before they even learn how to talk.

Embracing technology is a must for any business but from our 28 years of innovating, developing and embracing technology, we've learnt that just because something becomes possible, it isn't always the right thing to do for your business or for your clients.

One of the most popular tools over the last 5 years for real estate agents has been Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Recently, CRM technology has leapfrogged older models and the new capabilities of these systems have never before been seen in this industry.

It is really exciting but at the same time it is quite daunting. One of the features of these systems is that it is incredibly easy to mass communicate to consumers on a 'personal' level. A great tool used in the right way, however in the market place you can already see this functionality being abused and consumers are the ones paying the price…

The amount of 'personalised' letters, texts and emails I receive is phenomenal. I only have to go as far as my letterbox to see what our competitors are up to. Despite the fact they are providing me with meaningless information I haven't asked for, the communications have clearly been sent out in bulk with no real individual 'human' thought process. I am sure if these agents actually understood who they were communicating with, they wouldn't be 'keeping me up to date with the market' - I'm their competitor, and I know what the market is doing.

Some businesses are taking this a step further and it's now reached the point where consumers are getting upset. I have no doubt this avalanche of information and marketing has been the driver in the introduction of the new Privacy Laws and additional protocols.

Recently, two previous Toop&Toop clients have told us stories of receiving 'happy anniversary cards' from our competitors–people they had never even met. One was congratulating them on purchasing their home '4 years ago'… and they didn't even make the purchase with that company!

Last week, a client of ours received a letter offering to keep them informed about a sale on their street.  To their surprise the competitor's letter was offering to keep our client in the loop of the sale of their OWN home – a home they had already listed with Toop&Toop! Not surprisingly they were really annoyed at receiving this letter and in the process of trying to impress, the competitor agent lost all credibility with our client.

To me, this has crossed the line between being helpful and being intrusive!

Just because real estate agents have new communication tools at their fingertips, doesn't mean they should always use those tools.

To me, real estate is not a competition as to who can send out the most letters to the most people, it's all about communicating and talking to people, forming relationships and helping people get the best results possible. 

So, are we helping people or simply replacing people? With the amazing emerging technology delivering new ways of communicating, our team will be freed up to help more people by becoming more accessible, better organised and have more communication power than ever anticipated.

Technology in the right hands can redefine the real estate profession, for the better!

Genevieve Toop

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