Thinking about the state of communication across residential property chains is enough to induce a severe migraine.
We work in a world of silos, where everyone builds their own picture through a stream of phone calls and emails while hoping that the person on the other side isn’t telling a porky to protect their interests.
In amongst this, it’s often easy to lose sight of the most important person in the process – the customer.
It’s a hard slog for everyone involved with over reliance on email as a communication tool and a lack of availability often resulting in an endless cycle of call backs, voicemails and missed opportunities to progress the property transaction.
It’s not just other property professionals that are hard to get hold of either, homemovers bring their own challenges. Not only can they be highly emotionally charged and needy – due to the sheer scale of their financial investment – but they are equally tricky to get hold of as they struggle to juggle the home buying process around their busy personal lives.
Throw in the multiple systems and processes (very often still on paper) estate agents rely on and it’s clear that something needs to change. Fortunately, this is a fact the majority of estate agents agree on.
To top it all off, there’s always more than one estate agent in the chain frantically trying to keep the property transaction intact with no guarantee as to whether their version of the truth matches anyone else’s. How does this happen in 2019? Driven by eagerness to keep the chain intact, as well as their competitive nature, estate agents tend to shy away from sharing information.
Having a focus on their commission to help drive and keep everyone updated and getting the deal over the line. However, other professionals in the chain can have quite different challenges and motivating factors to consider.
Conveyancers are a great example. In a recent conversation, I got wind of a 40 (yes, 40!) point checklist they have to work through just for peace of mind that each transaction is compliant.
Let alone the growing threat of cyber crime and ‘Friday Afternoon Fraud’ keeping them awake at night and threatening their ever increasing PI premiums.
You don’t need me to spell it out to you - the impact of all this is dire. Lack of confidence in the chain, poor customer focus, high fall-through rates, the list goes on and on…
And who suffers at the end of the day? Everyone. Emotionally, the customer, but also the estate agent and their margins. It’s often about reputation. If the worth of an estate agent’s service is perceived as exceptional, it’s far easier to charge a respectable commission fee and still bring in new business, compared to those with a poor market reputation facing ‘a race to the bottom’ over fees.
Yet in all the chaos, there is hope. Collaboration is the missing piece and some PropTech companies, such as mio, are stepping up to fill the void, improving communication across the breadth of the property chain – and making life easier for everyone involved.
What’s driving all of this change?
Well, partly the fact that it now takes a shocking 18 weeks on average to reach completion, but more significantly than that is the ripple effect of changing consumer expectations.
Consumers are relying more and more on their smartphones as a means to communicate – and this shift is clearly highlighted in the Ofcom Communications Market Report (August 2018), with key stats including;
• The smartphone take-up rate has continually increased over the past 8 years – from 27% to 78% in 2018
• Instant messaging is up from 12% to 41%
• The total volume of outgoing calls from fixed lines fell by 17% in 2017, whilst the total volume of outgoing mobile call volumes fell by 1.7% in 2017
• On average people check their smartphone every 12 minutes during the waking hours – and 71% of people never switch them off
From banking to online shopping, instant messaging and the convenience of 24/7 access is becoming the norm – and consumers are stumped when they don’t get this same experience during the home buying process.
It’s no secret that the entire home buying process is in need of an overhaul, and while even the government has stepped in – following the Improving the home buying and selling process consultation – it’s not going to change overnight.
However, technology solutions such as mio – a clever combined sales progression and communication tool – are helping to bridge the gaps, connect the dots and make life easier for everyone involved.
As heard at a recent panel discussion with Perry Power, managing director of Power Bespoke, and Simon Fisher, director of Absolute Sales and Lettings, solutions such as mio are already bringing positive change to the industry;
“mio is hugely valuable. The more you use it, the better it gets. The information shared with the consumer is just enough and not too much. The power is in the simplicity. As part of tmgroup, the team behind mio also has great pedigree with experience in the property industry.” – Perry Power
“mio is a sales progression tool far and above anything else out there, and other agents need to get on board to help make a positive difference to the home buying and selling process. Every day something isn’t happening is another chance for even more chains to fall through.” – Simon Fisher
As for those already suffering from ‘interface fatigue’ from the barrage of PropTech software solutions to fix a problem that you might not even known to have existed, mio offers a breath of fresh air, as Ashleigh Thwaites, Branch Manager at Emersons Green, Taylors says:
“When I was first looking at switching to mio, I initially thought ‘oh no, not another program to learn’ – but I quickly found I had nothing to worry about as it was easy for my team to get started with mio. I also wasn’t sure mio was going to be much better than what we were already using, but it is so much more user friendly and easy to navigate.”
Time for a spring clean of your processes?
If you think it’s high time you put your customers at the heart of the home buying process, felt in control of your sales progression and had more positive relationships with the other professions involved in your chain why not take advantage of our free 6 month trial of mio?
*Jon Horton is product director of sales progression and communication tool mio