The data-driven challenge in Real Estate
The ever-expanding digital possibilities affect all types of industries, including the real estate business. This development creates an increasing demand for new features and solutions from both external and internal stakeholders.
The customers perspective
The solutions and services provided by the e-com industry have set a new baseline for customer experience across all industries. Real estate companies need to keep up with expectations.
Today's customers take for granted that you know who they are, that you recognize them when they contact you, as well as that you have a 360-view over your previous interactions.
The customers are more than willing to pay for extra services, if they are offered to them in the right way and are perceived as valuable.
The customers anticipate a customer journey that leads them through each step. They want, and expect a seamless experience from start to the end with you as a real estate company. You will have to know where your customers are in their life cycle to be able to take the right actions.
The customer life cycle starts with the search of a new place to rent, continues with examining the object, followed by negotiation and signing the contract, getting the keys, moving in, paying the rent as a steady and valuable customer, getting add-on services that nurture the relationship, and ends with the exit and move-out process.
The company perspective
- Your employees want to have work tools that are easy to use, and work processes that are structured and efficient.
- The managers want to be able to initiate changes in the work processes and follow up on the results. They would also like the ability to identify bottlenecks and use KPIs for change management purposes. And don't forget the power to improve on customer experience as well as the employee experience.
- Top management wants to develop the business further. They would like to offer add-on services that could increase profit, and see better efficiency in work processes. They want satisfied customers and employees, because they know this leads to better overall results. Top management demands that the business is based on facts, not on guesswork or gut feeling.
The solution is to be truly data-driven
The solution to all the challenges mentioned above, is to make sure that you have access to correct and useful data within the organization. You must understand the data and be able to put it to work in an efficient way. In other words, you need to be data-driven!
If you as a real estate company decide to be data-driven, you will be able to make changes to processes that affect stakeholders both internally and externally. Regardless if you are new to the data-driven mindset or already have started the process, there is always more to achieve when using data. This is a journey over time and you will need to work with constant development to climb further up the data-driven success ladder.
The data could be basic data already available, or data that will be captured through new processes that you are about to develop. Most real estate companies have a lot of data, but far from all of it is being used to drive business value. The data could be used for property management, services to the customers, finance/invoicing or administrational purposes. Perhaps you have smart building devices installed, that you could make real use of if you captured it and put it into a process. Invoicing and payments could be digitalized and the customer service process could be developed to become more efficient.
Here are five steps to follow, when you have a development process in mind:
- Start with the vision, the what, why and how
- To succeed you will need a clear vision of what you want to achieve. If you want your customers to have a better digital experience, discuss in what way and try to visualize the end goal from start.
- Why is it important? Have you identified a demand from your customers? What would it mean if you did not do the changes? For whatever the reason, it is important that you know why you want to make a change and what you are anticipating as a result from the change, to be able to measure your progress.
- You will then need to have a clear strategy of how you move towards the vision. Do you need a new system? Do you need new working processes? What will need to change internally and what till need to change in the interface towards the customer?
- Make sure to have a clear goal and set metrics of how the changes will be measured. What results are you aiming for and when will the shift happen? The requirements and the roadmap going forward need to be clear to all involved to succeed.
- Make sure to have the right data available
- In the example of customer service process, you need to have access to the data regarding the customers and the attributes that describe them, demographically and transactionally, to be able to segment them. Perhaps you will need to aggregate some data to draw full potential from the data itself for processes and analytics.
- In the process you will also create new data that will be available for your follow-up. This is an ongoing data development process that you should make sure to capture.
- Invest in a system that is stable and scalable over time
- You will need to have a system that can keep track of the process, and guide your employees across its different steps. The system should be easy to use and accessible for all relevant employees.
- The system should also be scalable, because once you start the process you will want to develop new smarter functions. Perhaps you start off with just handling the customer service cases, but later on you would want your employees to make inbound up-sell on incoming calls e.g. to offer the extra services you have developed that will be valuable for your customers.
- Set the work processes
- Do you have a process today that is manual that you want to replace to save time and be more efficient? See to that you have the right work processes that are efficient and streamlined. This will make it possible for employees to see where they are with a specific case and make it easy for them to help each other out during peak periods. Avoid the manual work outside the system and make sure that the employees know why you make the changes.
- The customer experience will probably be better, when the customers feel that your representatives have a full view of them. The employees will also have a better experience when they can reach the important information in the system. If those are among your goals, you are on your way to reach it!
- To be able to set new work processes, you will need to work with change management. You can not skip the change management process, if you want to achieve changes over time and reach your full potential of the system. Make sure that all employees are well-prepared, onboarded and have signed off the changes!
- Follow up on your data
- The follow-up of a process is just as important as all the other steps, maybe even more so. It is when you follow up the results, you can actually measure the impact of your work and be able to identify bottlenecks.
- The analytics will give you reasons internally for what should be prioritized and what are low hanging fruit.
- Do you want to keep track of how many customer service cases that are initiated, open and closed during a period in time, to understand the case flow and where to make changes?
- Do you want to know which customer segments that use the phone or e-mail to contact customer service, instead of using the self service tools? When you follow up of which customer segments that are contacting your customer service, you will get the understanding of the customer needs and also the possibility to make changes to reach those segments.
- Do you want to keep track of the type of cases to be able to be pro-active in your communication with the customers and guide them to you web page to solve their issues? Perhaps you will be able to identify the need of better self service functions, when you understand why the customers keep contacting you.
- Another way of following up and measuring experiences is to ask both customers and employees in surveys and measure the satisfaction levels over time.
- Remember to define relevant KPIs, because they will lead to valuable insights. And do not forget that they should always lead to some changes over time, as well. If you have the right KPIs, they will help you see where to focus on your journey onwards; what should be prioritized because it will mean a difference.
To sum it up, it is important for real estate businesses to be data-driven, to put data into focus and use it for developing the business model. The what and the why is important to determine, and the data must be made available and used in an adequate system. The work processes must be set, and you want to follow up on your data. At Stratiteq, we have many years of hands-on experience in this, both from a strategic and technical standpoint. Let us just say we know a thing or two, and would be happy to help. Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more, or download our free guide on data-driven real estate here.
Industry Lead Professional Services/Real Estate
+46 (0)73 661 21 35