Tech takes the stage

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When we think data is more clever than it is, we create tools that don’t perform how they should and the damage can be long range.

Topic – Making technology work for you

Mentor – James Bell

  • Use tech to support you
  • Do we drive it or does it drive us
  • Where are you rated by customers?

Transcript:

Kevin:   Hi and welcome to the show, we’re at Inman Connect in New York, and we’re giving you the highlights as seen through the eyes of James Bell who’s my guest. G’day James, good to have you back in.

James:   Hey Kevin, thank you very much.

Kevin:   Okay, day two, what are you seeing? Tell me about your major take away.

James:   Yeah, big emphasis this afternoon on technology. And you know, the use of it and how we can use it as agents. I think I’ve seen a shift in technology in this conference here, it’s more about having technology that is supportive of you as an agent, rather than something you have to drive and take time out of your day to do.

Kevin:   Where are we with technology as agents? Are we driving the technology, or is the technology driving us?

James:   Yeah I think there’s a shift on at the moment. I think at the moment we seem to be driving technology, and what I mean by that is sort of, you know, your CRM’s, you very much have to go into it, drive and pick the reports you want. You know, and just having to listen to some of our speakers yesterday, where that technology is now changing. You know, the advent of all these voice recognitions. Alexa and Google Home and there was a lady who was talking yesterday, how she’s running a podcast on Amazon and Alexa and she was telling us that all her clients have to do now is say, you know, “I wanna listen to James Bell’s property review.” And then bang, it comes up. And how different that is to having to sit there and send it out manually through distribution channels.

You know, obviously you’d still do that, but it shows where it’s actually moving to as well. Obviously AI is a big, big shift.

Kevin:   It’s interesting hearing you talk about the Alexa situation there. The one thing that strikes me about that is you don’t know who you’re talking to, you know. And I, it brings about a whole new skill of how you communicate with someone. If I’m communicating with you now, we’ve got eye contact?

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   I can read from you, I’m talking to you personally.

James:   Yes.

Kevin:   But when you go on to a podcast, and you don’t know who your audience is, it ,makes it very difficult because you gotta be quite generic about what you do.

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   And almost impersonal. I sometimes wonder though, James, that question that I asked you at the start wasn’t loaded, but I said are we driving technology or is technology driving us? I think of great companies like Rockend, who are one of our major supporters of course, and are here with us at the conference too. They are so switched on to finding out the needs of both the agent they serve, but also the consumer.

Where’s the consumer going? What do they need? How can we mould our product to more put the agent in touch? So I’m just wondering whether the technology is being driven from a consumer point of view? And whether we’re considering that enough?

James:   That’s a good question Kevin. You know, I think one of the next battlefields in our industry is the consumer service level, and how they feel at the end of it. And you know, I’d agree with you. The Rockend, as a company, we use them in our office and I always felt that they did have the consumer in mind.

Kevin:   Absolutely.

James:   But that’s the beauty–

Kevin:   That’s the point I’m making.

James:   Yeah exactly. Because at the end of the day–

Kevin:   That’s why I think they’re a lasting company. Because they are so much in touch with their audience.

James:   Yeah. You’re right, because at the end of the day, our consumer is–

Kevin:   Our being the agent?

James:   As the agent, yes. You know, agency owners, agents.

Kevin:   Yeah.

James:   It is actually the consumer, and if you’re not satisfying their needs, then you know it’s a tough situation to be in.

Kevin:   It is very tough, and that’s why I ask you the question. Because I don’t think we think about it enough.

James:   No.

Kevin:   I think we think about the transaction. And this is the big difference, you know. We’ve gotta forget the transaction and work on the relationship. The only way you can do that, is by understanding what people really need.

James:   Really need. Yeah, and you know, I suppose to use Rockend as an example, you know the owner portals that they developed some time ago. The consumers appreciated that, because at the end of the day they had 24/7 access. They didn’t have to wait for us to be open at nine or close at five, and outside of that we were very difficult to get in touch with.

Kevin:   Yeah.

James:   So the consumer expects to be able to be served at an instant, and when they’re requiring it. So that’s probably a big change in technology as well is we need to be online when we’re offline. And there’s another thing that was spoken about yesterday, automatic valuation machines, that are sitting on websites. And how it’s becoming a big trend here in America, where you know, your consumer can just go online and almost bypass the obstacle of having to speak to an agent to get an assessment of price.

In Australia at the moment as you know, we might have to go to a one or two sort of major websites at the moment. But here, what they’re doing is you know obviously becoming that hyper local. And all you have to do as a consumer here is go on to a local agents website, put in some details, answer some questions, and they’ll send you back an automatic valuation on your property.

Kevin:   Yeah, therein lies another problem. If I could just raise a–

James:   Yeah, definitely.

Kevin:   Because a large part of our audience, you know we’ve sort of got a big audience in the US, but we’ve got a big audience also in New Zealand. I was talking to the guys from Trademe.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   Which is a major site in New Zealand. They’ve moved away from AVM’s for the simple reason that the data that they were getting wasn’t making it accurate enough, they’re upsetting agents, they’re upsetting consumers. Because the price valuations weren’t, either meeting the expectation or they weren’t accurate enough.

James:   Yep.

Kevin:   And AVM’s are only as accurate as the information that’s inside them. So I just think the industry needs to be serious about what they’re doing with AVM’s and treat them more seriously.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   I mean I’ve even seen banks saying, you know, making up in some of their advertising.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   That they can actually tell you what a property is worth. I mean it’s, it can’t happen.

James:   It can’t happen.

Kevin:   It doesn’t happen.

James:   But I think what it showing Kevin, is a trend of where the consumer is at. You know, the consumer wants to be able to self serve at any time they want. So obviously there’s a trend around that, and I suppose in America at the moment, and I’ll speak about that because we are here, you know that need for the consumer to be able to go, “I want to know what my home’s worth.”

Kevin:   Yes.

Kevin:   So I think overall, it’s probably the theme of, you know, we spoke yesterday about being hyper local? And obviously if you’ve got a local agent and you can go to their website,, you know they might feel as though that’s a bit more trusted information? Rather than going to a site that’s maybe nationally.

Kevin:   Yeah I do think that AVM’s, you know, what you get free is really, that’s the [crosstalk] of it.

James:   Yeah. You get what you pay for.

Kevin:   These are free AVM’s, but there should be some kind of writer that says, “well this is our automatic valuation model.”

James:   Definitely.

Kevin:   You know, “to get it more exact, we suggest you talk to this valuer or this real estate agent.” So I think there’s another layer that’s needed with those AVM’s.

James:   Definitely, 100%. 100%. And as an auctioneer too Kevin, you know like, I’ve been at some auctions and called in some auctions and you know, buyers have pulled out these reports.

Kevin:   Yes.

James:   And they’ve said, “but this bank said it’s only worth between x and y.” And I’ve seen in cases they’re conservatively $200,000 off.

Kevin:   Yes.

James:   So yeah, there is an issue around pricing.

Kevin:   Absolutely.

James:   But it’s probably more a signal for us as an industry, is why is the consumer wanting this information?

Kevin:   That’s a very good point.

James:   That’s the key.

Kevin:   That is the key. We’re gonna leave you with that thought for today. James Bell is my guest all this week from Inman Connect in New York, we’ll be back with more with James’ takeaway later in the show.

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