The challenge with technology in our industry is that we’re not playing a big enough game.
It’s our strategy that’s wrong, not the technology itself. In recent years we’ve been longing for a piece of tech that does it all, a magical database that lets property management and sales play together. Instead, what we’ve developed to date are silos of data, systems and departments that don’t talk – and little vision for what’s possible.
The new world is about app stacking. There’s an app for that, and modern APIs (application protocol interfaces) allow truly dynamic systems to talk to each other. Fascinating new technology like Clearbit allows you to take an email address, then bring in the latest data, including first name, surname and even mailing address and contact number, by researching over 80 different lead sources across the internet to tell you more than just surface-level information.
In an app stack, you engage with the best in class apps that do individual components incredibly well, talking with existing systems to ensure one true source for customer data. If you feel Xero is best on ground for accounting then you use that; if you like MailChimp for automated email marketing, use that. If you prefer Google apps for email, calendar and docs, then use that. The key is to ensure an open architecture around the API and use incredible systems like Segment and Zapier to allow individual systems to talk.
No longer are we waiting for one app that masters it all; instead we’re looking for best in world apps to come together to ensure the perfect customer journey.
No longer are we in an age of waiting, or praying for one app that masters it all; instead we’re looking for best in class, best in world apps to come together to ensure the perfect customer journey. It requires you to sit down and define what you want to see happen, from lead generation to nurture, nurture to conversion and back again. Once you’ve defined it, then you go in search of the systems that can deliver what you want.
The most important things to consider when evaluating new technology:
- Does it make it easier, faster or cheaper for us to serve our customer?
- Will it uphold the customer service standard and provide reporting to identify gaps in the service standards?
- Is it mobile-first? We have a mobile-first approach to every piece of technology we evaluate. If it’s not good on mobile, we don’t use it.
- Does it have a truly open API, meeting API industry standards – not just one-way sync, but true system integration?
I always prefer to build a manual system first before I bring in the tech. Past client anniversaries are a classic example. Most databases have no real way to empower search to do what Google does so well. My vision for the industry is to be able to do a Google search on your data to bring up rich search results that enable better work: ‘Google, find me all past clients that bought a property from me in September.’ Then have all the clients appear.
Broken CRMs make us search all past clients, then narrow it down to September, then narrow it down to the year. So if your business has been in operation for ten years, you have to do ten searches to find all past clients in September. Crazy, I know. And it’s exactly why sometimes a manual system, like my grandfather had in 1972, wins. All he had was 12 exercise books he’d bought from the local news agency, labelled by month. He’d open up his September one, and in that was a list of all the past clients who’d bought or settled in that month over the history of the business. He’d add any new sales and file it away for next year.
Stunningly simple, highly effective. So before you go app crazy, or go all in, define what it is you want to do. Then go all in, learn everything you can and use technology to your advantage. A system rarely works on its own if it’s not well thought out.