Are We Making the Most of Technology?

The evolution of all types of technology and all the online opportunities it provides is theoretically able to make our lives easier, increase efficiency, and provide better levels of service to our customers. Sadhana Smiles, CEO of Harcourts NSW asks, “Is this really the case?”

The iPad is the latest “must have” tool, and interestingly it did not even exist 100 weeks ago.

Does our investment in technology enable us to engage or build better relationships with clients and create more efficiency in your businesses? Or, is everyone doing the same job that now needs more technology just to maintain the status quo?

How many of us simply cannot live without our smartphone? Losing your right arm may just be easier these days. We all believe that the world simply will not function without technology as we obsessively check emails, SMS, and our Facebook/Twitter accounts constantly – in meetings, over dinner, school functions, movies, even as soon as we wake up. I know, as I am guilty of doing exactly this.

We have access to all the latest gadgets and software systems; however my question is how many of us are using all these opportunities in our business effectively? There are so many different types of technologies available to us, but unless we are all able to use them to create more time, space and efficiency, we just end up with many fabulous toys.

In the Real Estate industry, we are mostly sales people, and we also love a good sales pitch, especially when it comes to having every new, cool gadget that we think might give us the edge. The iPad is the latest “must have” tool, and interestingly it did not even exist 100 weeks ago. However, we keep hearing about all the great things an iPad can do. It allows property managers to conduct periodic inspections that load up directly to the CRM system, where you can immediately communicate with the landlord. Similarly, sales people can perform listing presentations, capture contacts at open for inspections, access the database, and synchronise contact information.

While this is all very well and good, does this allow sales people to make more prospecting calls than they did 20 years ago? Isn’t returning calls or prospecting one of the biggest issues we have in our industry? I suspect this isn’t due to lack of time or technology; it is more to do with accountability, behaviours, focus, and habits. Does the current improvement in technology allow property managers to provide higher levels of service? Are they managing more properties? Are they making regular calls to their clients that are about something other than maintenance and arrears? Are we able to build better relationships with our clients and improve efficiency? Or, is everyone doing the same job that now needs more technology just to maintain the status quo?

Some agents now have the ability to have their websites with testimonials, video, properties, blogs, Facebook, twitter all which link back to the companies main web and social media sites.

It’s a given that you can’t implement everything. Technology moves at a pace that requires us to play catch up constantly, and given restraints in regard to cost, agent willingness to change, and the like, it’s tough. In general, the integration of technology into our businesses is not smooth. We respond to the demands of consumers and more often than not, we feel the need to play “catch up”.

This adds an extra layer of complexity in that we need to examine our customer’s expectations. If one agent does a presentation on an iPad and the other does not, will the client make their decision based on who was the more innovative? Perhaps some would. However, I would still argue that decisions that consumers make would be based on the person who understood their needs better and felt a level of trust, not the person that had the sexiest technology. Only humans can really understand each other’s needs.

While there is a temptation to be at the ‘leading edge’, perhaps what we should be doing is avoiding being on the ‘bleeding edge’. Sometimes we do see significant market advantage for those that integrate new technology before their competitors, but there is such a thing as being “too fast off the mark”, particularly when it comes at the cost of training or involving every level of the business in the integration.

So as businesses, it is inevitable that we will implement some of the technology opportunities available to us, but we should at least set a goal to see some sort of a quantifiable improvement in the way we operate – before we make a purchase decision or implement the technology. And remember, people still buy from people, not pieces of technology.

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Sadhana Smiles

Sadhana Smiles recently became the CEO of Harcourts NSW. She has held several senior positions with some of the sectors most significant organisations in VIC and NSW. Sadhana has built a career upon strong leadership and driving businesses to become more engaged, connected, agile, resourceful and memorable.