Monday, October 30, 2006

White Paper Part VII - Responsiveness

The verdict has been out on this one for a while. The fastest Realtor® to respond to an inquiry, whether it came by e-mail or through the phone, is likely to win the business.

Consumers rate responsiveness as the most important factor in choosing an agent, ahead of qualification, knowledge or commission, according to a CAR (California Association of Realtors) survey published in 2005. Yet, independent industry research published that same year suggests 45 percent of all online inquiries still went unanswered!

Considering that 45 percent of consumers also said they expect agents to get back to them within 30 minutes, there is significant room for brokerages to take advantage of the statistics.

For one, agents are on the road a lot of the time. It’s just part of the business. Many don’t get to their e-mail until the end of the day. Others don’t read their e-mail except once or twice a week. By then, the lead would be long gone. While the computer is a great tool at the office, your team must be able to connect with serious leads as quickly as possible.

While e-mail is not always accessible, unless your agents all carry a Blackberry, they do all carry cell phones. By routing online leads to your agent mobile phones, responsiveness is dramatically increased. And revenue growth follows.

Text messaging works best. It is non intrusive and keeps the agents in control of when and how they respond. They may be with a client at that particular moment, or they may prefer, depending on the opportunity, to respond either by text, e-mail or via telephone. A regular phone call or voice message does not offer the same flexibility.

There are a number of proven wireless lead routing systems on the market today. Considering the importance of responsiveness in the real estate business, the benefits of adopting this technology sooner than later are obvious. What it takes to win is to get to a lead first, and lead routing is an easy way to make this happen. While some brokerages have formal lead response and routing teams, others send inquiries directly to agents, but regardless of the model, brokerages need to ensure inquiries are responded to quickly and, preferably, immediately.

Lastly, brokerages need to recognize that inquiries generated from their listings originate from more sources than just their own website. Vertical search sites and classified websites that listings are syndicated to need to be integrated into their system, to enable text message notification for inquiries, irrespective of the source. This is the only true solution to consolidating the lead management process and optimizing conversion from all the diverse online advertising efforts.

Advanced systems such as the Point2 platform have been able to achieve integration with a number of syndication advertising partners and deliver leads right to the Realtor® cell phones. The initial inquiry is not only sent through email and SMS (text messaging), but the lead information is also added to the Point2 lead capture and profiling part of the platform, for long term incubation and follow through.


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