Technology Tuesday is a publication of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®. The first Tuesday of every month we will cover at least one technology issue in depth. If you have any questions about these or any other technology issues, please contact the free MAR Tech Helplineat 866-232-1837.
Better Make It Better
Ever wonder why is seems like some companies employ technology in ways that actually decrease their efficiency or harm their customer service? It's amazing how this happens over and over again.
Of course it all started years ago when phone systems introduced the autoattendant. The initial idea was to use technology to reduce the manpower and provide better options to callers: routing them to helpful departments with less wait time. Well we all know what happened with that, don't we? Today's autoattendants are labyrinths of chaos offering so may choices that callers end up going in circles jabbing "0" repeatedly to get to someone live and defeating the whole purpose of adding technology in the first place.
Same thing has happened with the real estate industry, it seems. The biggest example is the advent of the online "inquiry" form on listings. The idea is that the e-consumer can "conveniently" browse listings on the web then fill out a quick form requesting additional information. And, as we all know, what does the consumer get from this techno-innovation? Nothing. Literally. Ok, maybe they get an "auto response" which is basically an email "confirming" that someone is actually ignoring you (your email is sitting in a queue somewhere waiting for someone to get around to it.) At least half of the time (according to NAR stats) email inquiries from the public end up in the same routing hell as the autoattendant system.
No wonder why customers are giving up. Want to know why they don't respond to your email marketing? Want to know why some people just hang up before their call is connected to someone (other than the fact that your recording speaks too fast)? Maybe it's just a little "payback" - the customer's way of getting a little revenge for their experience frustration.
Whether you're the check-in counter in the airport (whose computers seem perpetually down) or the showings reservation system taking calls at the front desk, it's not sufficient to simply install some technology and train the internal users. It's critical to test the technology's impact on the customer's experience.
Automation should be for the customer's sake, not an internal purpose, alone.
Every broker and agent should "shop" their customer experiences from time to time. Try calling your office and think like a first time consumer. Send some emails to your own website and measure the reaction. Sign up for copies of your own email alerts or e-newsletters. At every point where you have technology touching customers, by itself or by assisting your people, measure the experience and make sure it's better. Please!
Otherwise you'll end up like the central air conditioning company I called yesterday for a service appointment. The young lady on the phone was very nice, but she was totally ineffective because her computer system was completely consumer-unfriendly. Since I'm on the road a lot my schedule is booked weeks in advance: I needed to schedule an appointment for sometime three or four weeks in the future. And the computer system wouldn't allow it. Imagine that! I wanted to pre-schedule some future business for this company and the system couldn't display appointment dates more than two weeks away! Clearly, someone installed a fancy-schmancy system but never thought about the customer whose busy life today is always scheduled a month in advance. So, technology? Yes. Better? No.
Of course we did make an appointment. The young lady simply used some better technology: a pencil and paper.
This article was authored by Matthew Ferrara of Matthew Ferrara Seminars, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Matthew Ferrara Seminars, Inc.