Our previous blog articles
Are You Tapping Into Your Customers’ Emotions?
According to Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of decisions are made by the subconscious mind. He believes the key to winning clients and persuading customers is a matter of engaging with them on an emotional level – and a boat load of academic and experimental research now exists to back that belief up.
You probably don’t think of emotions as a key part of your marketing; the property sector is all about practical, rational investments. But the reality is, with so much competition for every property, agencies need as many ways to differentiate themselves as they can get.
To understand how emotions can help you differentiate your agency and win more clients, we need to consider the role emotions play in decision making.
Every decision is emotional
We tend to think of ‘emotional’ decisions as reckless and ‘rational’ decisions as smart. Yet science suggests that this is an overly simplistic binary.
To use a simple metaphor, imagine an iceberg: while the tip is the most visible part, we know that the vast majority of it is buried beneath the water.
Decision making is a little bit like this: the rational part of your brain (known by neuroscientists as the prefrontal-cortex) is the tip of the iceberg, meaning you can easily observe it. But the emotional part of your brain (known as the limbic system) is what holds the whole thing up.
The limbic system is constantly giving us cues about how to interpret information, helping guide our apparently autonomous conscious mind in the right direction. And this is why patients who suffer brain damage and can no longer process emotions properly tend to make terrible decisions: they no longer have the ‘feeling’ that certain things are dangerous, or pointless, or valuable.
Simply put, emotions are involved in every decision we make, however seemingly rational.
They are the scaffolding that holds together any long-term relationship a client or customer has with your brand, and that means we need to consider the emotional impact every action we take will have.
Three ways your agency can tap into emotions
Understanding the key role emotion plays in converting leads into clients is great, but in order for it to be valuable you have to take action.
Much of the emotional impact you have is about creating subtle differentiation: you’re not looking to be best friends with every client, but to ensure they feel a low-level sense of connection and positivity towards your brand.
Here are three ways to tap into your landlords’ emotions:
1. Nail the ‘peak’ moments
Researchers often talk about ‘peak’ moments, when emotional needs are most immediate and relevant. In simple terms, this means there are moments when clients and leads are more susceptible to emotional messages, and therefore tapping into that emotion is more likely to trigger a response.
This isn’t just about relevance, as we’ve discussed before. Instead, it’s about determining key points in the customer journey and anticipating the emotions a prospect or client will be feeling.
For example: sending messages on anniversaries or at key recontact moments is great. But tailoring those messages so that they tap into the aspiration, or regret, or joy the individual will likely be feeling is far more powerful and persuasive.
2. Improve your messaging
Too many agencies’ landing pages, email campaigns and appointment messages are dry, overstuff with information and often aesthetically underwhelming.
Improving the copy and design can make a big difference. It should be more to the point, more emotionally evocative and more pleasing to the eye – this will help create a sense of trust, confidence and comfort.
Personalisation can also help here, by humanising the communication and creating a real, emotional relationship between landlord and agency.
3. Make pain point emotional
Emotions are particularly important when highlighting challenges and presenting solutions.
If you are prospecting and a landlord is particularly unhappy with a specific aspect of their current situation - or has a specific aspiration - you need to be ready to engage with the emotion they are feeling.
Particularly as you generate more data on your prospects and clients, a wellspring of insights will be available to effectively tap into emotions when discussing future plans and pain points.
Conclusion | Uncertain times need emotional ties
We’re living in deeply strange times, and despite the hope recent vaccine announcements have caused, there is still much we don’t know and can’t prepare for.
Understandably, emotions are running high. But rather than seeing that as an extra element of uncertainty, agencies need to see this as an opportunity to create deeper relationships with landlords.
Active Agents’ CXM system is designed to deliver more relevant, emotionally engaging customer journeys. And at a time like this, that could not be more important.
If you’d like to see what Active Agent could do for your agency, click here to book your free demo today.
Three Ways to Improve Staff Performance using Active Agent
‘Active Agent is exactly what was missing to focus our staff’ – Adrian Taylor
A high performing workforce is the backbone of any successful agency. But ensuring your employees are working to their full potential is getting increasingly tough.
As the pandemic continues to disrupt the world of work, many agency staff are working from home – in some cases permanently. And that means managing and motivating them is a whole new challenge for agency leaders.
Fortunately, Active Agent is designed with this in mind: not only does it improve Customer Experience, it also improves staff performance. And in this week’s blog, we’re going to look at three simple ways it does that:
1. Connecting task setting with CX goals
It is one thing to ensure employees know what their workflow looks like and are able to follow it; it’s quite another to have that workflow properly prioritised and linked to the overarching goals of your agency.
Especially when working from home, staff are generally expected to determine their own priorities – which certainly has its benefits. But to really maximise performance, the right actions need to be taken at exactly the right moments – and that’s exactly what Active Agent makes happen.
Active Agent creates automatic tasks and assigns them to staff members, so that management doesn’t need to manually delegate or micromanage.
Of course, there are plenty of existing workplace management tools that do this; the difference with Active Agent is the tasks are linked directly to Customer Experience priorities and goals, meaning your staff is directed to the tasks which are most vital to the overall business needs.
Rather than requiring managers to delegate work in real-time based on the needs and wants of customers, Active Agent essentially cuts out the middleman – saving time for both parties and improving Customer Experience immensely.
2. Providing more detailed measurement
The best way of improving employee performance is simple: measuring it properly. Of course, every agency does some measuring – generally using KPIs or crude sales figures as a basis.
But this only really works from a managerial point of view: what you are measuring is useful for managers to evaluate performance, but not for employees to actively improve their performance. The problem, fundamentally, is a lack of detail in the data - you can’t determine what works and what doesn’t.
Active Agent’s reporting and data visualisation gives you exceptionally clear, detailed and easily-digestible data on your customers’ experience and behaviour. By linking this directly to employee actions, you can measure and benchmark how employees are performing, creating strong incentives for them to improve.
Understanding the effect specific actions have on clients and customers’ behaviour can radically empower employees: not only does it allow them to alter their behaviour to improve outcomes, the intricate measurements allow them to visualise and contextualise their actions, giving them a greater sense of responsibility and impact.
3. Removing dull tasks
By automating many of the dullest, most unpopular parts of your employees’ jobs, you empower them to spend their time working on things they enjoy and are better at. Few estate and lettings’ workers love manually typing proposal letters or appointments emails, and by allowing them simply hit send, you’ll improve not just morale but overall productivity.
By even the lowest measures, automation drives around a 15% increase in sales productivity. And the gains in employee morale and engagement will only augment this: a Gallup study shows that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism – and engagement was directly related to the number of meaningful tasks an employee was doing.
In times like this, the need for strategic insight and top-level thinking are greater than ever, and having a workforce empowered to spend more time tackling these questions – not doing manual tasks – could change everything.
Conclusion | Employee experience is essential
It’s important to consider seriously the impact COVID-19, lockdowns and Brexit might have on the housing market. But it’s also important to remember that your agency is driven by individuals with their own lives, and success isn’t only about managing the political and economic situation – it’s about retaining a great team that can manage it with you.
Employee experience is a major driver for what we do with Active Agent: we know first-hand how difficult managing an agency can be, and we’ve channelled all that experience into a system which truly improves the way an agency runs internally.
If you’d like to see what it could do for yours, click here to book your free demo today.
Five Ways Active Agent Can Help Your Agency Through Lockdown
As lockdown 2.0 begins, the recent property mini-boom is most likely at its end. While property and letting agencies can continue to operate – and many people will still be hoping to purchase before the stamp duty holiday expires - the appetite for property is likely to decline in the coming weeks and months.
For many agencies, that will mean slowing business and a series of challenges which are by now familiar - increasing efficiency, more effectively targeting key buyers and sellers, and growing a business in an uncertain economy.
After the national lockdown lifts, we will move back to a regional tier-based model where different areas are effected by specific restrictions. And that will be just as disruptive as the national lockdown, meaning this really is just the beginning.
However, the challenges ahead of us are far from insurmountable. And with technology like Active Agent, agencies can be prepared to come out of the lockdown with a stronger, more flexible way of operating.
Here are five ways Active Agent can help your agency through lockdown:
The entire national economy will continue to take a serious hit in the coming weeks and months, and that means agencies will be hard pushed make better use of their resources and become ever more efficient.
Active Agent is purpose-built for situations like this; using automation, it allows you to decrease staff numbers or hours and actually improve your net results. You can develop intricate lead generation and customer experience strategies, and simply allow the system to implement them – often in ways human employees would be unable or unwilling to.
As political and economic events unfold, both your existing clients and active leads will be responding in real time – and that means you need to as well.
Rather than working manually to try to navigate ongoing events at scale, automation and Active Agents’ tailored messaging allow you to stay on the ball and appear relevant even in times as unpredictable as this.
During difficult times, businesses that are able to demonstrate that they care always fare best. Even a simple message of compassion or a perfectly timed holiday greeting can go a long way towards creating the positive associations which will eventually help you win a client’s business.
Active Agent facilitates deep personalisation, which means not only can you send messages tailored to specific individual clients – you can send them at the exact moments they will have the greatest impact and mean the most.
From social distancing to remote working, the pandemic has altered our behaviour in virtually every way. This is vitally important for agencies, because luring in clients and making sales is all about understanding and influencing behaviour.
Active Agent tracks leads and clients’ behaviour throughout the entire funnel, mapping how they interact with every email you send and every website they visit. And that gives agencies a huge scope for understanding how their behaviour is shifting.
By presenting this data in actionable, easy-to-digest charts and graphs, Active Agent helps agencies better respond and strategise, making sense of the complex dynamics of a new social reality.
Here’s the reality: ten months into this pandemic, we’re still not sure when or how this thing will end. While we’ve been given all sorts of promises and projections, there’s simply no real certainty as to when things will go back to ‘normal’. And even when they do, we’ll be living with the repercussions of this period for years to come.
While the immediate challenges facing agencies are tough enough, it is also vital that we think about the longer-term; the sooner agencies start preparing for the future, the better they will be able to navigate it.
Active Agent is designed to offer compounding benefits over time; in the short term, it is a major advantage, but over the long term that advantage just continues to grow.
As the system is continually optimised, your data becomes valuable and you are able to reorganise how you operate. And that sets you up to grow, as your competitors struggle to adapt.
Conclusion | Using Active Agent to do more during lockdown
Of course, this is going to be a tough time for us all. But with the right strategy, and technology like Active Agent, we believe this country’s agencies are more than capable of coming out the other side stronger than ever.
If you’d like to see first-hand how Active Agent can be a lifeline during these difficult times, click here to book your free demo today.
How Estate and Letting Agencies Can Do More with Data
In 2017, The Economist magazine claimed that data was more valuable than oil. And the world does seem to be obsessed with the stuff – from ‘big data’ and ‘data-driven business’ to the constant data related scandals in the media.
But is data really worth the bother for estate and lettings agencies, who have always got by just fine without needless number crunching and complicated analytics systems?
Well, the short answer is yes.
But to explore why that is, we need to consider what the alternative to data is.
Why is data so important?
Decision-making is the heart of any organisation – from how to prospect and sell to to managing and operating your business. Data’s value comes from its ability to augment that decision making in order to increase the effectiveness of virtually every aspect of your business.
Historically, agencies have based their sales and marketing strategy on pure intuition and ‘talent’. But data promises a more empirical approach, where theories and hunches are replaced by evidence and analytics.
Data is far less susceptible to bias and human-error than ‘thinking with your gut’. But perhaps most crucially, you can now collect data on things we couldn’t dream of before: everything customers do, from opening emails to lingering on your site can be recorded and reported, allowing you to develop a far more detailed view of your customer base and understand exactly what they are responding best to.
Data therefore helps estate and letting agencies make better use of their resources, develop more persuasive messaging and ultimately increase their conversion immensely.
And this is not theoretical: according to research from Google, data-driven organisations are three times more likely to report a significant improvement in decision-making.
So why isn’t everyone making use of it?
There are two basic challenges businesses face trying to make proper use of data: a) generating enough of it, b) understanding it well enough to gain real, actionable insights.
The first is purely technical, and with the right tools can easily be sorted. It takes time, of course: to generate the kind of granular, detailed data you need often requires months of investment. But fundamentally, most businesses manage to generate data – though not always very high quality data.
Making real use of that data is where things get tough: data is often unstructured, brought in from multiple sources and difficult to analyse in any practical sense because it lacks context and life.
For most people who aren’t data scientists, data is alienating and unwieldy, making it very difficult to pay attention to or parse. And knowing what to look for in a data set and how is a whole specialised set of skills.
Three ways to make better use of your data
1. Integrate all data into a single source
By bringing all of your data sources together, you not only reduce the burden of organising and compiling it – you make it all more inherently valuable. Data in isolation is meaningless – it’s in the contrasts, patterns and anomalies that it becomes a vital tool for decision-making.
The challenge for most businesses is that they generate data through a variety of sources, so this task is a hefty one – particularly if they have numerous legacy systems in place that will need to be totally rewired.
Active Agent is specially built to pool all your data – as well as generating more – so that this is not an issue. From your digital marketing to in-house efforts, information is stored in a single space and made inherently more valuable and easy to access.
2. Visualise your data
For non-experts, data visualisation is the most useful tool for making data easier to digest and draw actionable insights from. From simple charts and graphics to complex data storytelling, the possibilities for making data come to life – both to inspire and to analyse – are endless.
Active Agent’s reporting and visualising features do exactly this, providing you with a top-level view of your customers’ behaviour as well as more granular analytics if you need to go into greater detail.
3. Strategically action it
Finally, data is nothing without an actual plan as to how you’ll use it. For estate and lettings agencies, the ability to alter the content and timing of your messaging based on data-driven insights is a game changer, allowing you to make more compelling arguments and send the exact right messages at the right moments.
Active Agent provides you with this ability, connecting your data directly to your Customer Experience Automation system, allowing you to personalise customer interactions based on robust data – ensuring maximum accuracy and effectiveness.
Conclusion | Active Agent allows you to do all of this and more
Data is one of our big obsessions at Active Agent - we believe it is among the most powerful tools at modern agencies’ disposal. And we built our CXM platform with exactly that in mind.
The platform not only helps you generate more, and better quality, data - it features marketing-leading data reports and visualisation, so that non-experts can easily understand and make use of complex data. And, of course, it allows you to automate your communications to act on those insights without lifting a finger.
If that sounds too good to be true, allow us to prove you wrong by clicking here to book your free demo today.
The Art of Winning Back Leads You Lost
Nothing stings more than a client you know should’ve been yours signing up with a competitor. No matter how often you win those battles, the losses just seem to stick with you more.
There’s actually a scientific term for this: loss aversion. According to research in decision science, humans care roughly twice as much about losing things as they do about gaining them. And that makes us act in some very irrational ways.
The average agency looks at clients they missed out on as gone forever – and for those agencies, they probably are. But at Active Agent, we look at things differently.
There’s always next time
Our system has several features specifically designed to help you recontact, persuade and switch landlords away from rival agencies. And using them has helped many of our clients totally transform the way they look at lost leads.
As any agent who’s lost a client knows, loyalty is often not nearly as strong as it might first appear. So rather than simply sitting around hoping that lost leads see the error of their ways, we believe there is a precise art to winning back leads and converting them.
There are three key elements to that art:
Most agencies don’t manage to convert competitors’ clients because, frankly, they don’t have a persuasive enough case to make – they don’t know how to demonstrate that they are a better option for the landlord.
Clearly, this is a massive problem: once a landlord has settled on an agency, they need a very good reason to go to the bother of disrupting things. And persuasive messaging is a major part of this.
Whatever the media you’re using to communicate with competitors’ clients, you need to make a clear, compelling case which both captures the landlord’s attention and moves them to action.
Our landing pages are designed specifically to do this – to help you deploy clear, persuasive messaging compelling landlords to switch to your agency.
There is a natural lifecycle to property sales, and re-contacting landlords at the right moments – when their property is likely to be coming back to market soon – can have a huge impact on your chances of winning them over.
Timing is essential here: too soon, and it will seem like irrelevant spam; too late and you’ll have missed the opportunity yet again.
Our system is specially designed to automate these messages so that they land at the exact right moments, maximising their impact and catching landlords at their most persuadable.
It’s also designed to help you personalise these messages, using existing data – collected before they signed with another agency – to make the message more relevant and powerful.
Convincing a landlord you are a better option than their current agency is one thing, but actually sealing the deal and ensuring the switch is completed is quite another.
Many landlords will actively avoid any hint of difficulty or stress – they just don’t need it. So it’s vital that the process of switching is as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
Our system is designed to make every aspect of your lead generation and CX seamless, and that extends to re-contacting and switching. From booking calls and meetings to signing documents digitally at whatever time suits them, Active Agent makes the whole process smooth – so all the landlord needs to do is stick by their decision to switch.
Conclusion | Agencies need to be more ambitious
At times of great uncertainty, there’s a definite tendency for businesses of all kinds to become conservative. But to really power through this period, we believe agencies need to be bolder and start pushing in directions they’ve normally steered clear of.
Winning over competitors’ clients is a great place to start – stop seeing landlords as off limits, or beyond your purview, and start learning the art of winning them back.
With Active Agent, a lot more is possible than you’re used to – if you like to see exactly how much more, click here to book your free demo today.
Three Ways Customer Experience Impacts Your Bottom Line
Last week, we explained why Active Agent is best understood not as a CRM system, but as a Customer Experience Management (CXM) system. But even though we provided some decisive stats to demonstrate how valuable that extra focus on Customer Experience (CX) can be, we thought it was important to explain exactly how and why this stuff really works.
So in this week’s article, we’re going to explore exactly what CX means in Estate and Letting.
We’re going to look at three essential elements of CX most agencies are lagging behind in, and how Active Agent’s CXM system can help you take advantage of that fact.
But first, let’s make sure we understand what CX really is and how it impacts behaviour.
The anatomy of CX
Customer Experience is not a difficult concept: it is literally the accumulation of everything a client or customer experiences throughout all their dealings with your agency. That’s everything from the tone of voice you use on the phone with them and the kind of sales approach you take to the subconscious effects of your branding, listings, emails and website.
A focus on CX therefore means looking at the entire journey a customer goes through, and trying to make it as easy, efficient and pleasurable as possible.
There are two basic reasons businesses don’t focus on CX: they (usually mistakenly) believe they already provide exceptional experiences to their customers; or they don’t understand how CX can possibly translate into a meaningful improvement in their bottom line.
Well, according to Bain & Company, companies with a CX mindset really do drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.
But how does it translate into real business results?
How CX impacts behaviour
The best way to understand how CX impacts behaviour is by looking at your own buying habits.
What products do you buy and why do you buy them? Can you explain exactly why you choose one brand over another?
In some cases, possibly. But if you’re like most people, the answer is probably not.
You can’t articulate a rational reason for a preference towards Innocent over Tropicana, or Samsung over Sony - they just seem obviously superior.
The average human makes 35,000 decisions each day, and it would be completely impractical for you to have to make every one of them using careful deliberation. So for the majority of decisions, the brain allows assumptions, ‘gut feelings’ and instinct to sit in the driver’s seat.
Of course, some aspects of CX are processed consciously, and their impact will be felt consciously. But that’s really just the 5% of the iceberg you can see – the rest is hiding under the ocean, quietly guiding your customers to prefer you over your competitors.
To explain this in more concrete detail, let’s consider some specific aspects of CX .
Three key elements of CX in Estates and Letting
1. Speed and Convenience
Nobody likes waiting around, and nobody likes unnecessary difficulty. But there’s a huge difference between service which is not slow and service which is actively convenient and speedy.
Few customers will notice that you don’t provide interactive digital proposals which are easier to get signed and far more convenient. But they also won’t have any reason to prefer you over your competitors, who also don’t provide them.
Simple things – like automated responses which are sent out immediately – can make the life of a customer a lot easier. And because so many agencies lag behind in this way, making the journey actively fast and convenient will quickly ensure your agency stands out when potential customers are making a decision about which agency to go with.
It isn’t just that the experience is smoother and more pleasant though – it makes customers believe that the entire process will be this easy, that your agency really cares about its customers.
2. Attention and Care
Customers need to feel they have an agency’s attention and care: not because they’re needy, but because it signals that the agency will go out of its way to ensure the customers’ outcome is preferable.
The goal is to demonstrate to customers that they’re valued– by seeming to go out of your way to offer them useful content, for example. This massively increases long-term loyalty, which is difficult to quantify with any real accuracy - but it’s safe to say it’s extremely valuable.
It also creates another clear distinction between your agency and others which treat leads poorly and don’t seem at all invested in helping them get the right deal for them.
3. Authority and Branding
In the property sector, we are dealing with big life decisions. And that means customers need to feel extremely confident that they are in safe, competent hands.
Trust and confidence can be created in all sorts of ways – positive reviews, conversations, emails, web copy. But interestingly enough, many factors which don’t obviously relate to your industry expertise also shape customers’ impression of your competence.
Customers subconsciously make a connection between things like branding – the aesthetics of your website, the interior of your buildings – and your actual trustworthiness. Which means improving these aspects of your customers’ experience will actually make you appear more trustworthy – and therefore increase your chances of landing a deal.
Conclusion | Customer Experience provides real returns
The reality is, as an industry we often lag behind in terms of CX. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
At Active Agent, we practise what we preach: we’re not only dedicated to providing everything you need to ensure every customer has a genuinely excellent experience - we’re dedicated to giving you them, too.
If you’d like to test us on it, click here to book your free demo today.
Three Ways to Rebuild Your Agency Post-Lockdown With Active Agent
For most estate and letting agencies, the pandemic has been an intensely turbulent time: from a spike in job losses and worker precarity to an impending market bust following the stamp duty holiday, the existing business model is being pushed to breaking point.
Yet while for some this recalls earlier crunches – like those in 1989 or 2008 – there is one vital difference in today’s equation: technology.
Rather than simply hanging on for dear life, today’s agencies have the opportunity to actively rebuild their businesses with a more streamlined, intelligent approach. If they implement the right solutions, agencies can rise from the rubble with a far more sustainable, cost-effective way of operating.
Here are three key factors they need to consider:
1. Reducing staff
Job losses are never pretty, and when done badly redundancies can be a PR nightmare. But the reality is many agencies will find their current head count becomes increasingly unmanageable in months to come, especially as Government subsidies inevitably subside.
The mistake many agencies will make, however, is equating staff numbers with prominence or productivity, and assuming that reducing staff inevitably means shrinking the business.
With automation, the exact opposite is true.
By freeing up resources and increasing efficiency, reducing staff numbers can actually be a way of growing the business – especially if it’s done effectively.
Simply put, the need for manpower to drive conversions and undertake dull manual tasks is a thing of the past. And by offloading those tasks to a machine, talented employees can focus on what they do best without interruption – after all, around 40% of productivity is lost to task-switching.
Of course, agencies will need to develop clear-sighted strategies – to ensure their automation covers every base it needs to – and be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
But fundamentally, the workforce of the future will be increasingly streamlined– and leaders who want to be ahead of the game need to start looking at ways to turn this into an advantage.
2. Focusing on the right leads
With the popularity of window shopping on property websites and the massive competition in the industry, the quality of the average lead for estate and letting agents is pitiful.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the average conversion rate in real estate is around 1% - where other industries have more than twice as much success.
That means a huge number of leads need to be generated to produce an actual sale or client deal.
And with many experts expecting the wave of unemployment and economic crisis which follows the pandemic to create a major slump in the real estate market, this means simply wading through as many leads as possible will be even less effective than ever.
In a post-pandemic world, therefore, the key to value will not be quantity but the quality of leads – and the ability to discern it.
The technology for this exists: smart CRM systems help you track and manage leads throughout the entire customer journey, and combined with automation you can locate the highest quality and more likely to convert leads with ease.
But because this seems too good to be true, many agencies are still putting it off, focusing instead on simply increasing the churn.
By focusing on understanding their leads, agencies of the future will fundamentally change their approach to sales: they will have better, more mutually enjoyable sales conversations, and by sending the right message at the right time, they will see their conversions explode.
3. Enabling remote work
The pandemic has seen remote working become truly mainstream, and rather than assuming this is simply a peculiar blip, leaders need to embrace it wholeheartedly.
Aside from the overt benefits – saving on office overheads and gaining in productivity (by 13% in one widely cited test) – embracing remote work also prepares agencies for the future of work, where employees will need more flexibility and easier access to the information they need, wherever they need it.
Even if you still work from the office, remote working sets a good standard for the quality of tech post-pandemic businesses require
If workers are chained to their workplace computers, and can only access relevant client or customer information there, response times will inevitably suffer and the ability to react to relevant events in realtime will be severely diminished.
This is exactly why we’ve ensured Active Agent is fully operational on mobile platforms: so that you can access your full CRM system remotely, at any hour, from any location.
The entire point of technology is to free us from traditional strictures, and if your current system stifles your flexibility then it simply isn’t fit for purpose.
If you’d like to see how Active Agent gives you true flexibility, click here to book your free demo today.
Why Active Agent is Upgrading to CXM
While we’ve made our name as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, it’s become clear to us that the term creates more confusion than clarity. Customer Experience Management (CXM) is a far better description for the full range of services we offer, and we want to explain exactly why that is – and what it means for our clients.
What is the difference between CRM and CXM?
CRM systems focus on improving the experience of the people managing customers – that is, you. It makes office tasks easier, reminding you of important dates or helping you keep track of documents. And that’s really important: the office efficiencies you gain from CRM systems, as we’ve discussed before, can be extremely powerful.
CXM systems, however, offer everything standard CRM systems do, but with extra features to engage customers and create smoother customer journeys. Active Agent, for example, helps you actually time the sending of emails and texts, so that they arrive at the exact right moment for your customers, creating a smoother experience and increasing the chance of making a sale.
Popular CRM platforms like Alto are fantastic for improving efficiency and bringing your agencies into the 21st Century. But as more and more other businesses make use of the same basic features, such platforms no longer provide a serious competitive advantage.
This is why we’ve strived to ensure Active Agent offers all the trappings of a full CXM system: to provide clients with a real, tangible advantage over their competitors.
Why is Customer Experience so important?
There are numerous reasons Customer Experience (CX) is important to estate and lettings agencies, but let’s consider some facts:
Clearly, there is a vital business argument for focusing on improving CX – and we’ll elaborate on exactly why this is in a future post. The central point here is to see that a CXM system provides far greater – and broader- value than straightforward CRM systems can.
Do I need both CRM and CXM?
If you currently use a CRM system, switching to a CXM system might seem risky, or unnecessary. But the reality is this is not an either/or question – you need not get rid of all the existing benefits of your CRM system in order to gain from implementing a CXM system.
It is not a question of one replacing the other; it is a question of CXM system augmenting and improving the existing function of a CRM, so that users are able to generate more customers and provide them with a much more polished, impressive overall experience.
While you could theoretically run both at the same time, most agencies opt to have a CXM simply absorb the duties of their existing CRM system, so that all of their processes – from simple office management and admin automation to complex customer journey mapping – lives on a single platform, easily accessible at all times.
Conclusion | Active Agent helps you do more with less
Ultimately, Active Agent is designed to help estate and letting agents step up their game in terms of digital customer experience. We’ve integrated everything you love about your experiencing CRM system into a more powerful, more effective framework.
We built it for ourselves, because we saw first-hand that nothing else existed in the market to help estate agents achieve this level of customer experience. And we’ve seen, first-hand, the huge impact it can have on your bottom line.
If you’d like to see how it works and what it CXM could mean for your agency, click here to book your free demo today.
Three Ways CRM Systems Generate Value
All estate and letting agencies understand that clients and customers make-or-break their business. But between the limited time and resources at their disposal, too many are allowing extremely valuable relationships to slip through the cracks.
This is why CRM is so important – especially today, where resources are stretched, time is limited and competition for new clients is increasingly tough.
According to Nucleus Research’s meta-analysis, the average ROI for CRM systems is roughly £7 for every £1 spent. And in this article, we’re going to explore three ways CRM systems generate this value.
But first, we need to understand exactly what CRM actually is.
What is CRM?
Put simply, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a software-driven method of tracking, analysing and optimising a business’s interactions with its customers.
The goal, fundamentally, is to manage your relationships so that customers feel personally cared for - minimising pain points and maximising the impact of communications to ultimately increase retention and drive sales growth.
A CRM system is the means through which CRM is done: it compiles data about customers from various interactions– emails, social media, websites, phone calls – and turns that data into valuable insights which can be used to understand your customers and optimise your communications with them.
While the concept of CRM has been around since the 1970s, it’s only been in the last decade or so that CRM software has begun to realise its potential – and today, over 90% of companies with over 10 employees have used some form of CRM.
Three ways CRM systems generate value
1. Keeping existing customers happy
CRM helps agencies focus on an often-neglected area of value: customer retention.
Businesses of all kinds – and this very much includes estate and letting agents – tend to focus heavily on generating leads and winning new clients at the expense of caring for their existing customers. But on average, it costs five times as much to reach new customers as it does to retain your existing ones.
The result of this neglect is 68% of customers decide to leave a business due to perceived indifference towards them – which might, ironically, explain why so many businesses are desperate to snap up new customers at any cost.
By sending relevant messages to customers, responding to their queries quickly and making them feel genuinely important, agencies can ensure that they make the most of their most valuable assets – their existing customers.
Finding such under-attended avenues of growth and value generation is key to making it through this challenging economic moment, and CRM systems are a vital tool for doing so.
2. Managing and prioritising leads
No matter how much manual effort is put into generating and nurturing leads, few agencies are able to successfully convert the majority of their potential customers, meaning growth is never quite as high as it could be.
Part of the reason for this is leads are difficult to gauge and prioritise in a traditional agency setting: you can’t keep up with exactly where different individuals are in the funnel, or figure out a means for properly targeting, persuading and ultimately converting them.
This is where CRM comes in, because it allows agents to easily track and understand the nuances of a specific customer journey – from how quickly they open emails to how long it’s been since their last contact.
Such insight makes it easier to allocate resources and make more of your existing leads – ultimately driving far higher conversions with far less manual effort and embarrassing error.
3. Saving agents’ time
The best CRM systems are not just effective – they’re also easy to use, allowing users to save time which might otherwise be used manually attempting to work on existing relationships. And in recent years, CRM systems have become increasingly automated, which makes them even more user-friendly, time-saving, and effective at timing messages.
Mobile-based platforms – which can be operated from your phone, wherever you are in the world – make managing and optimising sales and customer retention as easy as a few clicks of a button, which is particularly valuable today as many agencies are forced to decrease staff and look for more agile ways to make their efforts count.
Conclusion | Choosing the right CRM system
Clearly, CRM can provide exceptional value and the means of improving growth. But that doesn’t mean any old CRM system will do.
The truth is, over a third of CRM projects fail, and in large part that is because the systems businesses use are not designed specifically for their needs.
With Active Agent, we wanted to create something which would provide the specific services estate and lettings agencies need.
Our automated CRM system was initially built to use ourselves – to tackle the specific customer relationship challenges that we, as estate agents, faced, without any of the unnecessary complications and baggage that ‘one-size-fits-all’ platforms bring with them.
If you’d like to see what that looked like, click here to book your free demo today.
How Active Agent Helps You Do More With Less
In today’s economy, it’s hard to find a good justification for any extra expenditure; the last thing any agency needs is new tech to integrate, new tools to learn or new bills to see to.
With the market slumping, and many agencies struggling to make ends meet, it might seem like introducing a new platform into your system is just going to make things harder.
But here’s the thing: not every new addition to your arsenal equates to additional effort or expenditure. In fact, part of what we’re offering with Active Agent is a way for agencies to have more time, more resources and ultimately, more revenue at their disposal –all while making the day-to-day running of the agency easier and allowing you to spend more time doing what you’re best at.
So what is Active Agent?
After over twenty years in the real estate business, we noticed there were a huge number of opportunities within the customer journey most agencies simply weren’t attending to – from responding faster and sending more relevant communications to improving their landing pages and utilising data more effectively.
This led us to the premise of a single mobile-friendly platform which would attend to every aspect of the customer journey – from improving lead generation to managing existing customer relationships. And by combining psychological insight with market-altering technology, we’ve made that comprehensive system a reality.
Here’s how it works:
We upgrade your lead generation
The average online attention span is slightly shy of 8 seconds, and if you don’t immediately capture a visitor’s interest you will never see them again. Estate Agent websites are almost uniformly ill-equipped to entice prospects – they’re just too busy, generally designed for browsing rather building up leads.
We provide conversion optimised landing pages which cut to the chase and turn visitors into leads. Then we integrate those leads straight into our sales funnel, sending automated messages that are personalised to move prospects closer and closer to converting.
We develop bespoke, personalised messaging
In order to deliver the level of personalisation you need, it’s important that you have carefully crafted content for every different occasion and kind of customer.
We use detailed data to segment you customer base, then we use develop unique, persuasive, and high-converting copy for each segment – ensuring that every customer feels they’re being communicated with directly, even when the messages are totally automated.
We automate your communications
We develop a strategic communication system for your specific customer journeys, integrating multiple automations to ensure every customer gets exactly what they need when they need it – taking the burden off your staff and ensuring the right message is delivered at the right time every time.
That means sending proposals and post-appointment emails immediately to double your conversions; welcome campaigns, sales progress updates and anniversary emails to keep clients happy and cared for; and even recontact emails to send at strategic moments – like when the property is about to come back on the market - to help pry them away from your competitors.
We analyse and visualise your data
During the customer journey, rich data is continually created; every action and response your communications generate is potentially vital information about what does and doesn’t work, and can be used to optimise and enhance your strategy.
We present your data as intuitive visual funnels and actionable insights, making it easy for you to make sense of the results, adjust your strategy and manage your resources.
Conclusion | The last thing you’ll need
Ultimately, this is technology which is more relevant now than ever: while everybody is struggling to find time and resources, we can help you to truly do more with less. So that you can keep overheads low, build up your client roster more effectively and ultimately get back on track.
If that sounds good to you, and you want to see how it works for yourself, click here to book your free demo today.
Why Personalisation Works – Even When We Know How It Works
It’s easy to dismiss ‘personalised marketing’ as a fad: most of us understand, rationally, that when we receive an email addressed to us from a business, it doesn’t mean that business really cares about us as an individual.
But the reality is, personalisation works: merely personalising CTAs has been shown to improve conversions by 202%, and the more personal you can make your communications the more effective they will be.
The key, for estate agents, is to see personalisation not as a simple introduction of personal information in communications, but an overarching approach to every elements of their comms strategy.
While this is tough to pull off, the benefits it offers are numerous. And given the reputation estate agents often have, going the extra mile to achieve better personalisation will not only add a human touch – it will help you stand out from the crowd.
In this article, we’re going to explore why and how this works.
A large part of the reason personalisation is so effective is simple: people love to hear their own name. A body of research – primarily by Brett Pelham – has demonstrated that we each get a little flash of pleasure when we hear our name.
So deep is this bias that even things that simply sound like our name appear to please us – men named Lawrence and women named Laurie are actually statistically more likely than average to be lawyers, and people called Dennis and Denise are slightly more likely to become dentists!
Reading a personalised message therefore activates our vanity, and makes us feel good about the message we’re receiving – which in turn makes us more disposed respond positively. But there’s more to personalisation than simply including personal information – you should also be matching the kinds of messages you send to specific individuals.
Clients come first
Agencies should always be looking to ensure their communications are as valuable to the recipient as possible. In the research literature, this is known as ‘other-orientation’ – the willingness of businesses and brands to focus on the customer rather than themselves.
Sending out newsletters to keep customers up to date with your agency’s achievements is hardly going to create a personal connection – if anything, it signals that you see them as something to add to your trophy shelf.
Instead, agencies need to be focusing on sending out the kinds of information specific clients want know about, and tailoring the message to ensure clients feel seen and valued.
Personalisation of this kind is particularly crucial to existing customers: global consultancy Accenture has found that nearly half of all customers and clients expect specialised treatment for being loyal to a business, but very few manage to deliver such treatment.
Estate agents have terrific data on their existing customers, yet few make proper use of it. Think of the impact simply sending personalised messages on special occasions – like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas – or keeping clients updated about how much money they’ve made in the last year can have.
This level of care not only makes clients feel good – it activates their innate instinct towards reciprocity.
The final element of personalisation is not the content or context of the message – it is the person actually sending it. Ensuring, for example, that appointment emails are sent from the person who will undertake the appointment – not the office – immediately creates a personal connection and sets the stage for a more productive meeting.
We tend to think of digital communication – emails, websites – as cheap and disposable, which is why we are so much more comfortable ignoring an email, say, than a handwritten letter. But if we add a human face to it, it becomes much harder to ignore.
Robert Cialdini has demonstrated that a fundamental element of human behaviour is reciprocity: we are hardwired with a drive to return the favours we are afforded, and for an estate agent this is vital information.
By treating our clients and leads like human beings, we make them want to do the same back to us; that sense of mutual giving makes it harder for them to treat us as disposable, to ignore our communications or to dismiss our business.
Conclusion | Creating connections
It’s a strange paradox that personalisation can work even when we see through its strategies, but the proof is in the pudding, and for agents attempting to compete today, personalisation is key to creating advantage.
Not only does it ensure your communications are more impactful, it creates a clear differentiation between your agency and most of your competitors.
If you’d like to learn how Active Agent can help you develop and deploy a more effective personalisation strategy, click here to book your free demo today.
What Automation Means and What It Can Do For Estate Agents
Competing for business has always been tough for estate agents. But in the profound uncertainty of our current moment, it can feel impossible to find the extra resources required to really drive home those victories.
The truth is, most estate agents’ lead generation and marketing strategies fail not because they don’t know what they’re doing – they fail because they don’t the time to do it.
Now more than ever, the key to competitive advantage is not bigger offices, longer hours or larger workforces – it’s strategic insight and technological innovation. And perhaps the most powerful innovation for estate agents is constantly improving, dynamic automation.
How automation works
While it can sound intimidating, automation really just means programming a machine to do a task for you. This could be anything - from telling your email to send automatic replies to every email you receive to orchestrating an entire factory to run on its own.
In theory, anything which is repetitive can be automated. Not only does this save a huge amount of time which can be more productively used on complex and creative tasks only humans can accomplish - it removes the potential for human error.
Combining an understanding of customer psychology with an automated communication system, you can ensure the right message is sent at the right time to the right person – and all without lifting a finger.
Over three quarters of businesses see a positive Return On Investment within the first year of adopting automation; in theory, this is a no brainer. But in practise, there are some real concern to address.
The challenges of automation
As you can imagine, there are clear risks involved if your automation is done poorly; without human direction, it can result in increasingly irrelevant messages being sent to the same individual ad infinitum – as anyone who’s been followed around the internet by ads for a pair of trousers they bought two weeks ago can attest.
Not only is this annoying – it undermines the efforts you’ve made to personalise your messages.
But what’s perhaps more surprising is that even seemingly well-executed automation can prove problematic. Nearly half of all businesses using marketing automation find that they are unable to effectively personalise their automated messaging, and over half struggle to keep up with rapid technological advances.
These challenges are compounded by the fact that most businesses’ automation is not maintained or integrated within a larger strategic system.
Having automated responses to some kinds of queries and not others creates inconsistencies, which are terrible for customer experience; and managing discrete automated systems from various different apps can be extremely taxing – especially when you’re trying to run an agency at the same time.
How to do automation right
The answer then, is to find an automation systems which is fully integrated, easy to operate and allows you to truly save time.
For estate agents, this can help in virtually every aspect of marketing and client communications:
Ultimately, it can create a truly cohesive and highly effective customer journey that works exactly as you want it to, every time.
If you’d like to discover how Active Agent provides such automation, click here to book your free demo today.
Why Responding Immediately Will Double Your Conversions
The life of an agent is hectic, and most of us struggle to find enough time to devote proper attention to the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of our client communications. We send over proposals when we can, not when we should; we respond to queries when we’re free, not when we receive them.
But this is a serious problem: while the average customer expects their communications to acknowledged within 60 minutes, but the average reply time is over 12 hours.
The reality is, there is a huge body of evidence suggesting that the timing of our communications often matters even more than the actual content itself. And in this article, we’re going to explore exactly why that is – and what you can do about it.
First response wins
Between 30-50% of all sales go to the vendor that responds first: this is the finding of a series of detailed experiments done by Strategic Management researchers in Toronto and Seoul.
In research following over 1,000 firms’ lead generation efforts, those that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to enter into a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.
Partly, of course, this is simple signalling: those that respond quickest demonstrate diligence, care and a higher level of professionalism. But this doesn’t explain the huge bias towards the very first respondent; after all, no one can seriously think an hour’s delay indicates a radical difference in professionalism.
Instead, to understand why responding quickly is so important we need to look deeper.
The decision making brain
Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has spent nearly half a century researching human decision making, looking at how our brains process information. And his findings can be summed up fair straightforwardly: we are continually looking for ways to make decisions quicker and easier.
Our brains are biological entities with limited resources, and are therefore always looking conserve as much energy as possible. Rather than wasting energy weighing up ever decision we make, they instead look for ‘heuristics’ – rules of thumb that take simple contextual cues and allow us to make generally effective decisions with relatively little effort.
The first response is the easiest to approve. Rather than rationally considering the merits of each offer they receive – which would take a level of effort and attention most simply aren’t interested in exerting - they can simply say ‘yes’, telling themselves your speed of response is indicative of professionalism.
The reality is few landlord’s love the process of finding an agent – it’s a chore for them. And the quicker you respond, the quicker they can accept your proposal and be done with the whole thing.
Perhaps counterintuitively, this also means that responding quickly matters more when a property is particularly lucrative and competitive; the more proposals received, the harder it is to choose between them on rational grounds, and the more cues like speed of response become to draw distinctions.
But a fast response doesn’t only make the decision easier for the landlord: it also catches them when the proposal feels most relevant.
Relevance equals attention
Our brains experience around 11 million discreet bits of information per seconds, yet we only become consciously aware of up to 40 of them – almost all the information we are faced with is essentially screened out of our minds in order to allow us to focus on the most vital stuff.
What we become consciously aware of – what we pay attention to – is decided by its perceived relevance to us. Neuroscientists call this ‘goal-orientation’: at any given moment, humans are headed towards a specific goal – get food, find glasses, eat food – and whatever that goal is will determine what is and is not paid attention.
The famous ‘invisible gorilla’ experiment illustrates this perfectly: a group is shown a video of children passing basketballs of different colours, and told to count how many each colour of ball is passed. Half way through the video, a man in a gorilla costume walks across the frame, beats his chest, then walks off again. But because participants were orientated towards the goal of counting the passes, roughly 50% of them failed to notice the gorilla – and were shocked when they were told about him!
The takeaway is clear: capturing attention is not just about the content of the message – it is about the relevance of the message to our current goals. If you are extremely hungry, every mention of food, cutlery, cooking will demand your attention, while even the most persuasive message about working out will likely pass you by.
Conclusion | Sending the right message at the right moment
An immediate response – within minutes of an appointment, or moments after a query – catches the customer while they are still ‘orientated’ towards property. Even five minutes later, they will likely have moved on to another goal, and their interest – and therefore attention – will likely have waned.
That’s why, for example, interactive proposals are so much more effective than offer letters: they allow clients the instant gratification of accepting an offer when they want, not when your office happens to be open.
And there are plenty of other instances where timing and relevance can improve your agency’s impact, such as:
By improving the speed and relevance of your communications, you can double your conversions. So if you’re interesting in making that happen, click here to book your free demo of Active Agent today.
"After over twenty years in the real estate business, we noticed there were a huge number of opportunities within the customer journey most agencies simply weren’t attending to – from responding faster and sending more relevant communications to improving their landing pages and utilising data more effectively.
This led us to the premise of a single mobile-friendly platform which would attend to every aspect of the customer journey – from improving lead generation to managing existing customer relationships. And by combining the psychological insights we’ve discussed with market-altering technology, we’ve made that comprehensive system a reality."
This blog follows current scientific research in proven ways to increase your conversion rates and why our system can help you on your way to being more successful than ever.
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