By Connor Baldwin, Technical Product Manager
As seen in Mile 62 eMagazine.
Our goal as an organization is to make agents’ lives easier, and brokerages more profitable with our technology solutions. How could we possibly do that? There is such a wide variety of agents and brokerages in this industry, we could easily spend our entire year’s budget on user research and we still might not even get it right. So, you know what we do? We listen.
How do we listen?
We do it actively. We take cues from the people who give us feedback and dig deeper into that topic they are discussing with us. Examples of this are in abundance at MoxiWorks. Our Customer Support team, a vital part of our company, do this with our end-user’s every single day. They receive feedback through a variety of mediums and immerse themselves into what our biggest user group is saying.
Then we have our Account Management team – they have calls with all of our clients every single week and are always ready when something urgent comes up. They talk to some of the most important people at our client brokerages; the people who know and care about their agents as if they were family. We also have our Sales team talking to prospective clients to understand their potential needs, along with our Executives talking to partners and industry experts, and it all ends up back with us.
Our team (Product), then receives this expertly mined information and we analyze it. Once it has been analyzed, then we decide to spend some money and do user research on the things that this feedback has helped us deem as meaningful. This usually involves interviewing users and running usability tests. These are both time consuming, but they help validate our assumptions, give us new insight into the lives of our users, contribute to building out of extensive user personas, and help us address our user’s true pain points. These two exercises are essential to getting it right the first time, which saves everyone time and money.
Why do we listen?
This is an even longer list, so I will just talk about my three favorites.
One – we listen because we want to build brand loyalty. We want to strengthen our relationships with our client’s operators all the way down to their agents. It is important to us that they feel like they have a say in the evolution of our products. This shows them we truly value their opinions and it helps us grow with our clients. Hey, and maybe they will recommend us to a friend.
Two – we listen because we flat out want to build better products. These are our users, they know the products really well and they are associated with real world use cases. The information we get from them allows us to make valuable changes to our existing products and build badass new ones. This will help retain those who are near and dear to us, as well as add more folks to the Moxi family.
Three – we listen because we want to learn market trends. I know what you’re thinking, the third one is a little more specific than the first two. Cut me some slack though, I’m on the product team. The feedback we get from our various sources all has a ring to it. It signifies change in the industry. A basic example of this could be, “We want you to add/change this feature because there was a shift in the industry. Its original use is no longer helping our agents increase their productivity and our brokerages bottom line.” Ok, that was a poor example, but you get what I’m saying. All this feedback we receive paints a huge picture of the real estate industry and its volatility, and that is awesome, because that picture helps us not only plan for the future but drives us to innovate.
There is a phrase that is thrown around quite a bit in our company. It goes, “What got us here, won’t get us there.” This is especially relevant to gathering feedback from our users. Where simply letting feedback roll in from agents and higher-ups may have done the job two years ago, that is not the case now. In order for us to continuously improve our products we must find new ways to gather feedback. We must educate ourselves on interviewing users and finding the root of their problem. It is critical to set our users up to give constructive, contextual feedback. We would only be doing a disservice to our users and ourselves if we just stuck with the “Have Feedback?” prompt in product and called it a day.
Agents today have more options than ever of which brokerage they can take “their talents” to. The ability to attract, recruit, and retain top talent is more crucial than ever if your brokerage is going to dominate the competition in your market. What measures are you taking to ensure your business is the “it” place to work?
If it has been awhile since you reviewed your brokerage resources for agents, perhaps it is time to take an internal audit and reassess your value proposition. Questions to consider:
- Why would agents want to work here?
- What do I offer agents that the competition does not?
- How do I help agents be more productive and focused on selling?
If these answers are not immediately coming to you, chances are there is something dated with your brokerage process. To get back on track think two words: open platform.
An open real estate platform gives you the power to customize your brokerage to fit your brand and business needs. An open platform works like this: pick and choose, or, “plug and play” from a wide range of options to provide the types of solutions that best fit your needs. Just like a power strip, you can connect the things you want at your brokerage, and not the other stuff.
Competitive Advantage #1 of an Open Platform: Customization. Tools and services come and go all the time. With an open platform, choose the right combination of CRM, CMA, Leads Management, Print, Intranet, etc. that works best for you and your agents. In other words, keep the products that are used most plugged and sunset or unplug those that have fallen out of favor. The ability to customize your platform as needed empowers you to continuously providing best-in-class to your agents.
Competitive Advantage #2 of an Open Platform: Continuity. The power of having all of your tools plugged in and able to talk to one another in real-time should not be underestimated. If your agents know that their listing information will be shared and viewable from their CMA, to the CRM, and even to digital advertising solutions like Facebook advertisements, how much more productive does that make your agent’s time?
Competitive Advantage #3 of an Open Platform: Your Data. Why is data important? Think of brokerage data like digital currency; the more you have, the richer the intelligence and value proposition of your brokerage. If you can articulate both historical and current information data across property, brokerage, agent and consumers across all levels of your brokerage, the ability to identify new areas of business opportunity can be yours for the taking. Seriously.
Need help in determining your current brokerage proposition to agents? The first place to start: figure out which type of brokerage platform do you have.