How conversational commerce is transforming the post-pandemic property industry
The UK housing market is, for now, continuing to thrive despite the challenges of rising inflation and the spectre of yet further interest rate hikes. As the “race for space” continues in the post-pandemic environment, the property industry must continue to attract and retain new customers to capitalise on these favourable but rapidly changing market conditions.
However, estate agents’ busy workloads can pose various challenges to the notion of round-the-clock customer service. With multiple digital touchpoints to cover, automating various elements of the journey will make life simpler for your team, affording them the opportunity to make meaningful connections with customers, without neglecting essential tasks.
Creating a streamlined customer experience will ensure that your hard work translates into rentals, sales and repeat business. Integrated conversational channels – technology that enables homebuyers to interact with agents via messaging apps, live chat, chatbots and voice technology – play a crucial role in maximising customer satisfaction, with more and more property players working to improve the experience of prospective tenants and buyers at every stage of the home buying and rental journey.
Knowing your audience
The early stages of the search can be difficult for buyers and estate agents alike. From the vague to the specific, each customer will have different requirements for their ideal property – it is, therefore, crucial to collect as much information as possible to better understand the needs of prospective clients. Setting up a CDP (Customer Data Platform) will allow you to gather, store, segment and use information effectively to target potential buyers, based on where they are in the cycle. This will enable your business to develop sophisticated and effective marketing campaigns and avoid spamming clients with irrelevant content.
The ability to store and organise customer data effectively is crucial for moving buyers down the purchase funnel to conversion. Targeting customers with personalised content will demonstrate your ability to view each client as an individual and listen to their unique preferences, helping to set your business apart from other agencies. A relevant, well-developed content strategy will keep customers engaged during the lengthy property purchase or rental cycle.
Once the prospective buyer has narrowed down their search, it’s critical to personalise the conversation further by conveying the right message at the right time. Implementing Rich Communication Services (RCS) and SMS will allow you to reach customers via their preferred channels. AI chatbots are an excellent way of engaging with prospective buyers during the enquiry process due to their ability to answer queries by drawing on the information available across the knowledge basis within the company. Direct and timely responses ensure that customers feel valued and supported, allowing agents to prioritise stages of the journey where human interaction becomes more useful, such as viewings.
Being available when and where your customer needs you is crucial to ensuring that your business is front of mind when moving forward to the next stage of the buying journey. Creating omnichannel availability via WhatsApp Business, SMS or email will ensure that buyers can reach you at any time, on a platform that suits them. Each interaction can serve to enhance your CDP and enable you to develop closer relationships with prospective clients by feeding more information into their profiles. This will increase conversational capabilities by enabling any member of your team to access all the data at the press of a button, allowing them to liaise with customers in a way that minimises frustration and timewasting on both ends.
Providing a frictionless experience is crucial to success at the viewing process. Flexibility and ease of access are important for customers who want to arrange a viewing quickly, or in a contact-free way. These logistical conversations are ideal for chatbots, which can send agreed viewing dates and time slots into a virtual calendar. Chatbot booking also maximises efficiency by freeing up call centre workers’ time, allowing them to have more in-depth quality conversations with potential customers where their time will result in revenue-driving actions.
Making the Connection
Building momentum once the viewing has been arranged is crucial to moving customers down the funnel more quickly to improve the end conversion rates. Utilising marketing automation software will aid the creation of an emotional attachment to the property. Following up with questions after the viewing, when the property is still front-of-mind, will serve to alleviate potential concerns and build an affinity between the customer and the property. Examining customer data is vital during the decision-making process; demonstrating your understanding of the client will strengthen your relationship with them and make it more likely for them to consider you as the sort of professional, attentive business they want to work with, boosting your competitive advantage.
Making the contract signing process as seamless as possible via automation will ensure you’re not the cause of any hold-up, or the reason for the buyer or vendor backing out. Digital signing provides a secure and speedy alternative to paper documentation, maximising the chance of finalising a sale. Regardless of where the buyer is, they can get their documents signed faster through digital signing, which has the capability to send documents to any device or via any channel, removing traditional barriers to closing a deal.
The rapid digital transformation of the property industry will streamline the property purchase process for customers and agents alike. PropTech can save property agencies and their teams vast amounts of time and effort, representing a clear opportunity for the sector. Businesses that are prepared to invest in PropTech will reap the benefits of reduced time to sale, streamlined and less labour-intensive data-gathering processes, which will aid the creation of more meaningful relationships with customers on a long-term basis.