‘Traditional’ property hunting is a thing of the past. Printed brochures, property publications and even high street real estate agencies are used less and less by the day. The internet has reshaped the property landscape, and homebuyers are now conducting their research online.
In response, realtors have been quick to set up home online. But for all the slick property websites playing host to today’s homebuyers, few offer the same great service of a bricks and mortar agency. Homes have hopped online, but customer service hasn’t followed suit.
So, how can realtors support the property hunters hitting their websites? Howard Williams, marketing director of the software house behind WhosOn SmallTalk, explains how live chat software can take online buyers through the customer service keyhole.
NAR’s general report found that last year, nearly all generations of homebuyers started their property searches online. There’s a competitive edge to be gained by paying attention to your website visitors. After all, you wouldn’t ignore a prospect visiting your branch, so why ignore the prospects visiting you online?
In a physical branch, the realtor would greet a visitor warmly, answer their questions with expertise, and suggest suitable properties based on the metrics they give. Live chat software helps achieve this same level of great service online.
Without live chat, your website is a passive shop window at the start of your property hunter’s journey. It’s easy for them to breeze past and forget homes, like all the people on the street that walk past your office each day. Live chat opens the door. Instead of your website serving as a digital shop window, it becomes an active digital service desk capable of live conversations.
This capacity to hold a conversation makes your website both ‘sticky’ and supportive. It opens an extra channel of communication, and the more ways customers can reach out to you, the better.
Most realtors are reachable either by telephone or by email. While those options both have their benefits, they’re not always convenient for the property hunter. They require a layer of extra time and effort, and don’t always guarantee a quick response.
Plus, voice calls have long been on the decline. From as early as 2008, text-based communications have surpassed phone calls as a contact method. Chatting is increasingly popular, and today 48% of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other means of contact. That’s almost half of your online visitors that you could be helping sell homes to.
Eyes on the prize
Live chat software allows prospects to browse your website and view available properties – all while chatting and asking questions in real-time. This means both homebuyers and realtors can keep their eyes on the prize.
With an inline chat window, any reference information, images and property details are in front of the customer when they enquire. It’s a chance for the homebuyer to look through the keyhole without leaving the website. For the realtor, it’s a chance to act promptly and push property prospects further down the sales funnel.
Because chat feels far less intrusive than a phone call, your agency becomes more easily approachable. A chat option, for this reason, is particularly useful for clients with quick questions or limited time. Instead of putting off asking questions because it’s too much hassle, clients can approach you at any point online and get the answer they need.
The instant chat offer encourages more property conversations, and more conversations equals more potential conversions. This approachability isn’t just great for sales – it also helps you build trust. Buying and selling property involves financial commitment and stressful decisions, so it’s important for prospects to trust you. In fact, the most important factor for home buyers last year was having an honest and trustworthy agent working with them.
Building that strong agent-prospect relationship is central to helping clients feel comfortable with using your service. In short, being approachable is a great way to help reassure potentially stressed customers that they’re safe in your care.
Don’t waste your website
You’ve spent money and time creating your property website. So, maximise its potential. By adding a web chat option, you can greet and support every homebuyer that graces your webpages, just as you would a visitor in your high street agency.
Along with property portfolios, real estate agency service now needs to follow the online shift to stay competitive. Why not lay out a welcome mat for your digital prospects with a live chat channel?
Author bio: Howard Williams works in customer experience at Parker Software – the live chat specialists behind free estate agency chat solution, WhosOn SmallTalk. He leads the marketing activities of Parker Software’s global customer team, with a focus on the consumer, their experience, and how it can be continually improved.
A very interesting article. However, I would like to talk about it in the field of banking and finance. It looks very similar on the principle of caring for a client-bank relationship, just like you mentioned - "agent-client". Live chatting allows easier contact, it is also a kind of innovation that can be distinguished from other companies.