I’ve had the always harrowing experience of moving home the last couple of months, and its been very interesting to see how much Technology and People have, or haven’t, supported the customer experience
Let’s start with Purplebricks, and what can only be described as a truly shocking journey.
At the front end of the process, everyone is very similar. All 5 estate agents that came round have all got broadly the same tools, gizmos, and sales flannel. So I thought “Its 2022 right, technology has moved on, everyone buys off Rightmove, so where’s the differentiator?”
How wrong could I be. 7 weeks later, we’d had 1 viewing. And that was from someone who clearly hadn’t been profiled properly. And herein lies the problem. As other estate agents will tell you, they hope the technology does everything, they sit back and expect people to come to them, there’s no proactivity, and its just lazy.
And that’s why their fee is £2,500 and not £6,000. Although you have to pay that whether they sell the house or not, and that’s the kicker. And of course, you don’t establish this problem until you’re into the process and your house hasn’t been sold.
So we decided to rent it out. And the experience with letting agents was quite stark too.
I put my details into Rightmove to 4 agents to let the property. This was 6 weeks ago, to this day, still only 1 of them has bothered contacting me!
The guy that did, Lee from Fox and Sons, rang me within 30 minutes, and was round that afternoon. Very engaging, had clearly done his research about the properly, and was armed with lots of information and guidance.
Just what you want. The property went on the market the next morning and was let by the end of the week. No dramas, everything has been very efficient, slick, good processes. But more importantly, he kept in touch throughout. Old school, so where does a 27 year old learn that…?
We had a similarly good experience with the agency we let our new property from. A small independent on the coast, everything done on paper, we even had to drive down there and physically sign every page of the contract with a pen!
But, great people. Who knew how to engage, communicate, and build relationships. Testament to that, when I went to pick up the keys, the whole office was in London at an awards ceremony they had been nominated for. Not by accident I thought.
Purplebricks was supposed to disrupt the market but has it really happened? My experience would suggest not, and it was no surprise to see them issue a big profits warning a few weeks ago, with customer service cited as a big factor.
The wider point here, for all Estate Agency businesses, is that they are all going to be incredibly busy over the next 6-12 months, and most of them need to get their act together.
There are some who know its about communication and relationships and it’s no surprise to see them doing so well, and it’s so lovely to see. Like every sector in these challenging times, there will be winners and losers. But don’t think it’s just the technology that will see you through.
What the whole experience has demonstrated, yet again, is that for all the technology, there is still no substitute for great people