The Digital Reality Check: About still unused opportunities in the real estate industry

Anyone who has ever tried to settle matters with a landlord or his property management company quickly and conveniently as a prospective tenant or tenant knows that there is virtually nothing that can be done online. Instead, you are sent on a time travel back to the 1990s: Phone calls are necessary, paper forms have to be filled out, you wait for mail or even have to appear in person. "Do you have a fax?", this question could also be asked. This is neither customer-friendly nor contemporary, but simply annoying for everyone involved. It could be so much easier, faster and more convenient. Could. Off to the Digital Reality Check!

In this article, you will first gain an insight into the valuable, untapped business opportunities in the real estate industry. The following articles will show what real estate companies should consider when developing their digital strategy and which stumbling blocks should be avoided.

Every technological advance changes customer expectations

For us today, it has become a matter of course to provide services online and to contact a company in an uncomplicated way. Those who do not offer this to their customers will be disappointed. So the gap between experienced customer orientation in the real estate industry and the experiences from other areas of life is constantly growing.

If, for example, we want to rebook a flight spontaneously, we can do this via an app on our smartphone. Soon this will even work via Natural Language Processing. All we have to do is tell our digital assistant and he does everything for us. It's just as easy to book a hotel, order a cab or make a bank transfer online. Access to information has also become a matter of course. In the past, you had to wait for the morning newspaper delivery or the daily news, but now you can access news or the weather forecast online at any time. Often, it is not necessary to do more than a Google search or call up an app to get the desired information. The situation is similar in everyday business life. Mobile access to CRM, expense reports and other work-related documents and apps are the norm in modern companies.

These experiences from other areas of life set standards. Standards that we, as tenants, also "expect" (in the truest sense of the word) from a property management company and the housing industry. 

Technology and data as the secret weapon for strong growth.

According to MIT Review, it is the constant digital connection to the customer that gives Tesla, among other things, a higher market capitalization than General Motors (GM). And this, even though GM generates almost 30 times more revenue. GM has virtually no relationship with the customer after the sale of a vehicle, whereas Tesla has a constant digital customer relationship. Tesla's proprietary software platform enables Tesla to obtain real-time data on driving behavior, traffic and vehicle technology, enabling it to continually develop and improve its product. In addition, Tesla can import personalized product innovations and remotely correct errors at any time.

And what is the situation in the real estate industry? What happens after the rental? From our perspective, the situation is very similar to GM. Not much happens. There is a huge unused opportunity here.

There is also a lot of room for improvement in the letting process itself. Renting an apartment takes an average of 25 hours working time. This includes, among other things, preparing exposés, placing advertisements on various portals, coordinating viewing appointments as well as selecting tenants, concluding contracts and handing over the apartment. What if the letting process causes 10 times less effort, increases customer and employee satisfaction and strengthens competitiveness? This is possible today thanks to modern real estate software. And other industries are already demonstrating it.

Self-service and personalization for greater customer loyalty

Let's look at an example from the aviation industry: Last year, the Lufthansa Group carried about 110 million passengers. Assuming 5% of the passengers had change requests, Lufthansa would have had to receive and process 5.5 million calls (i.e. around 15,000 requests per day) without the digital service platform. Customers would have struggled with long queues on the phone instead of rebooking their flight in a few minutes or reserving a seat with more legroom. Scalable customer retention works differently. With the help of intelligent technology and data, providers can now focus on generating real added value for customers, thereby increasing their growth, profitability and, of course, customer loyalty.

Real estate companies are also flooded with a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork every day. Both they and their clients suffer from this in equal measure. A digital service platform ensures faster and more convenient processing for tenants and customers. It also reduces costs and opens up new opportunities for using the data obtained.

Another opportunity that digitization offers real estate companies is to create a personalized customer experience: Imagine your car and home are linked and the temperatures in your apartment automatically adjust to your preferences as soon as you set off for home. Or what if the alarm clock in your smartphone is connected to your shutters and you can set it so that the shutters open just before you wake up? Thanks to Connected Home technologies, these ideas are no longer science fiction, and they offer real estate companies a variety of opportunities to improve the customer experience of their tenants.

However, a good digital strategy is needed to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization. Read the second part of the series to find out what needs to be considered when developing a digital strategy.

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