Real estate traces its origins to Roman law and Greek philosophy, which recognised a person's right to own property. As a result, traditions in the property industry have been long ingrained. However, shifts in consumer behaviour and "black swan" events like COVID-19 have forced the industry to embrace technology and change.
The relentless growth of e-commerce, for example, has reduced footfall traffic in shopping malls, pressuring the sales of tenants and hurting the rental income of retail landlords. Elsewhere, the pandemic caused firms to rethink their office space requirements, downsizing due to a hybrid workforce or going fully remote altogether!
Continue reading to learn how property industry players can leverage PropTech to keep their clients happy and motivate their staff by providing excellent customer and employee experiences. As a bonus, we'll share some use cases to show how a total experience platform can turn ordinary property interactions into memorable ones.
What is PropTech?
PropTech, or property technology, is the use of information technology to gain efficiency, drive productivity, reduce costs and grow revenue in real estate. Here are some examples:
- Software, such as property portals, consolidates listings so that buyers and tenants can easily search and filter properties. Others include total experience platforms like CINNOX that help property agents, landlords and property managers provide great customer support and keep their teams engaged.
- Hardware solutions like sensors and IoT devices create smart buildings that save energy and detect issues. When paired with CINNOX through the open API, your team can be notified when a lift is out of service, for example, so the building's occupants can be alerted and external contractors mobilised to fix it.
Why are CX and EX important for real estate?
Consumers are increasingly using digital self-service, but they still value live human support.
Forrester, Infuse Digital Experiences With The Right Dose Of Human Touch
Real estate is a high-touch industry that has typically relied on vast business networks, interpersonal skills and handshakes to transact with brick-and-mortar products—whether clients are buying, selling, or renting a property. Like traditional industries like construction, it has generally resisted digital transformation until now.
The industry is currently undergoing tectonic shifts, which have been accelerated by the pandemic. As buyers, sellers and tenants get used to touchless transactions for social distancing, they now expect the same personalised experience online! Property agents must also work harder to provide humanised digital experiences.
All this has highlighted the importance of providing a great customer experience to build loyalty, nurture repeat business and create brand advocates in a highly competitive market. Agents and employees are not forgotten either as they need tools to stay productive and collaborate effectively online from wherever they are.
When you address your immediate CX and EX needs with a platform like CINNOX, you are also future-proofing your business. Putting all your interaction data in one place means that you are creating a treasure trove of data that can be analysed with powerful machine learning and AI tools to discover valuable insights in the future.
How to create better CX and EX in real estate
Here are some examples of the way you can harness CX and EX in your business to create a competitive advantage. Great customer service can differentiate your real estate products and services from competitors, while time-saving tools and hacks for your employees can turbocharge their productivity and keep them from burning out.
1. A tenant enquiring about a property listing
Pieter and Marie are from the Netherlands and they will be relocating to Hong Kong for an expatriate posting. Browsing your property agency website, they shortlist a few rental apartments. Wanting to know more, Marie clicks on the CINNOX widget at your website and your branded video plays while connecting them with an agent.
Behind the scenes, the smart routing feature detected their browsing language and routes them to a Dutch-speaking agent. They are delighted to speak to someone in their native language! Your agent then suggests they jump to a video call to put a face to names, taking just one click to seamlessly switch while still on the same call.
Coincidently, your agent is currently conducting physical viewings. Using the mobile CINNOX app, she checks Pieter and Marie's browsing history and sees they are looking at the Mid-Levels area with rents of around HKD 30,000 a month. Qualifying the lead further, she gets their expected move-in date which helps to narrow down the listings more.
While your real estate agency website has useful VR walkthroughs, videos, photos, maps and floor plans, nothing beats a personal live video tour from an agent. Sensing the prospects' eagerness, she conducts an impromptu walkthrough and adds her personal commentary on the apartment's condition and feng shui.
2. An agent closing a new residential lease
Anneke, a Hong Kong real estate agent, has just ended a round of virtual apartment viewings with a couple from the Netherlands. She clicked with the pair right away, but as a broker, she knows that time is of the essence since they may change their minds at any moment, or another property agent they contacted might win the deal!
Her phone just buzzed. The couple used her web link on the agency website to send a message. They liked the last viewed apartment in the Mid-Levels and they want to offer a 2-year lease at HKD 33,8888 a month. Thrilled, Anneke calls the landlord through the CINNOX app, and he happily agrees as the number is very auspicious.
Sitting in a cafe, Anneke prepares the provisional tenancy agreement and attaches it in the live chat session with the tenants. She also reminds them to wire the initial deposit to the landlord once they have digitally signed the contract. Receiving the signed document and a screenshot of the telegraphic transfer, she calls the tenants.
In a video call, Anneke walks the tenants through the leasing process. The landlord's solicitors will prepare a draft tenancy agreement for them to review. In the meantime, would they like her to recommend a lawyer that can represent them? Agreeable to her suggestion, Anneke then invites the lawyer to the ongoing conference call.
3. A customer service agent handling an enquiry
Emma is a customer service agent at your property agency. She is responsible for answering enquiries from the CINNOX widget that you have installed on your website. Since live chat, web calls, video calls and Facebook Messenger are unified in one place, she does not need to waste time switching between different apps.
An unusual chat enquiry just came in. Someone wants to buy a farm in the countryside! They just sold their London studio flat and want a change of environment after numerous lockdowns in the city. Slightly perplexed, Emma asks in the support group chat if any property agent deals with rural properties. She then sits and waits.
Within minutes, an answer comes from another customer service agent who is currently not on her shift. Using the CINNOX mobile app, the off-shift agent shares that Michael, a property agent in Surrey, specialises in farm estates for city dwellers. Thanking the off-shift agent, Emma quickly returns to the live chat session.
Emma relays the good news and the prospect is interested since Surrey is a short commute from London if necessary. She then asks the prospect if they want to talk with Michael now. They agree so Emma makes the introduction on a conference call, leaves and then transfers the enquiry to Michael so he can work on closing the deal.
4. A buyer showing interest in a new property launch
Mark is from Australia and he saw your print ad in his local newspaper. Promoting a newly launch ski resort in Niseko, Japan, your property development firm took out a full-page ad complete with a QR code. Interested, Mark scans the code and is instantly connected via a web call to an English-speaking property agent in Japan.
Since your resort is still in the pre-launch stage, there is only a show flat onsite that gives buyers a panoramic view of the ski areas as well as the spectacular Mt Yotei. Your agent easily switches to a video call without hanging up, slowly panning his mobile phone to show Mark the views that he can expect from the completed resort.
For now, you only have a simple landing page for visitors to register their interest. Nonetheless, your agent uses the mobile CINNOX app to screen share and play a recently finished promotional video. A keen skier, Mark also wants to know if there is ski-in or ski-out access to the chalets. No problem! Your agent shares a link to the VR walkthrough.
Visibly excited, Mark picks out the largest floor plan and starts to talk about financing options for foreign buyers. Your agent mentions that you have a tie-up with a financial institution that can offer loans denominated in Japanese Yen. Mark wants to talk to the financial adviser and your agent invites the expert to the ongoing call.
5. A property manager overseeing commercial tenants
Ishani is the property manager of a large-scale commercial complex consisting of a shopping mall and offices above it. Responsible for a mix of retail and office tenants numbering in the hundreds, she leads a dedicated team of accountants, technicians, and procurement and contracts specialists working in the onsite management office.
Using CINNOX as a lightweight CRM, every tenant in the building has their own chat room that provides an audit trail of all their interactions. Plus, Ishani also uses the solution as a cloud communications tool to manage chats, calls, video calls and emails in one place, saving them the cost of installing a complicated PABX system!
Each new tenant also receives a laminated card with QR codes printed on it. When scanned, a web call is made to a specific team—finance for payments and statements, for example—saving the tenant time from searching for a number. The same teams are also shared via web links in an email, giving tenants an option to chat instead.
CINNOX has also helped her team work collaboratively. If a new tenant wants to move in after hours, for example, Ishani can create a chatroom to notify operations about the loading bay, advise facilities to keep the lights on, inform security about the removalists, and add the external moving company as a contact so everyone is kept updated.