Real Estate companies must apply technologies of today to create engaging customer experiences

Financial services and retail industries are obsessed with single customer view. Having a holistic view of your customers and being able to provide them great customer experience – with good reason – you hate having to answer the same questions 1000 times!

The last 15 years has been a relentless drive for better customer experience, increased sales and better customer retention through data. So why is the real estate industry so behind, why do we not share this obsession with consolidating our data and leveraging its value? How can we learn from other’s mistakes and find a new source of competitive advantage?

The birth of single customer view

In 2004, the dotcom boom (and crash) had brought online experiences in to general view, Amazon & eBay were stealing market share from traditional retail. Online payments standards brought trust in online experiences. The retail world took notice and the ability to provide consistent customer experiences; online, in person or on the phone became the key to winning new business and retaining customers.

Banking soon followed suit in this obsession, however, complacent in their dominance & regulatory protection and constrained the baggage of 30 years of legacy software ( one system for credit cards, another for current accounts, savings, acquisition…) progress was slow. The same CTO’s that had implemented these systems turned to traditional “proven” technologies to integrate in a search for efficiency and that all important single customer view. An entire industry of consultants, offshore development and expensive tools emerged.

“Globally $billions have been spent on incremental improvement, customer experiences that still lag other industries and all the while Fintech has innovated quickly posing a real and significant threat to the established.”

Its not that banking failed in its goal, but its been a long game of constant catch up and at incredible cost.

So, what about Real Estate?

Real estate today finds its self in a similar position as the banks in mid 2000’s. Examine a typical property management company, they have tools for accounting, leasing, marketing, work order management, inventory management, renovations, inspections, asset management and the list goes on. They have slowly migrated from paper to database tables to perform specific functions. With the emergence of proptech the “forward thinking” companies have adopted more tools, enabling them to digitize more processes while at the same time creating even more silos of information, MOUNTAINS OF VIRTUAL PAPER and more dashboards then anyone will look at.

The real estate software industry has only perpetuated the problem. Incumbent providers of accounting and building management solutions, less nimble than startups, charge as much as $25,000 per year to their existing customers to access their own data and integrate with other tools. These large companies form partnership schemes that discourage competition and pose barriers to industry innovation while obstructing their own clients from becoming more integrated and efficient.

As the real estate industry wakes up to the potential of data it finds itself in a situation as bad, if not worse, than the banks. If we are not careful millions will be spent on patching together disjointed experiences in the drive to offer customers the experiences they have come to expect. Costly projects to deploy yesterday’s technology will take 2 years and by the time they go live we will again be playing catch up.

“We must not fall in to the same traps as the banks, we have to learn from their mistakes.”

We need to look at the new tools and solutions available to us. Tools built around big data, machine learning and AI. But for this the industry needs to first accept and embrace the idea of data collection & sharing. As an industry if we keep looking to the traditionalists for solutions and more “joins” on our tables, we wont have any real progress.

Imagine a new world…

Tenants preferences are remembered and mapped to your properties, leasing policies, local amenities. You can offer suggestions from within your portfolio for a switch in the lease to a new apartment closer to their office. Rent pricing can now be linked to their history of requests and complaints. A single customer view that can help you focus your efforts on retaining good tenants, offering them bigger or newly renovated properties to suit their lifestyles. Enabling you to identify high risk tenants that you need to manage more closely to recover rent.

It doesn’t stop there. This structure applies to your assets, to your vendors, employees, company policies and overall health of the portfolio.

These capabilities are within our reach now! Powered by open data, big data tools consolidating information from across your business and AI tools that offer customer centric experience. Look to the future to drive your business not the past!

Andrew Day