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How the service industry is turning to digital technologies

Rebecca Merrett | May 4, 2015
Real estate agents, legal firms and professional consultants are using digital technologies and data to meet the needs of ever-more demanding and connected clients.

"On our side, we can process invoices and payments on their behalf and we don't mind which cloud provider they use. So we are agnostic as to what platform the customer wants to run on.

"If both they [clients] and us are spending less time in producing their accounts, then we're able to spend more time advising them how to improve their business, and they are able to spend more time working on their business and not on the administration."

Community engagement

In the real estate world, digital technology is helping facilitate engagement with clients and build value as the trusted expert. CEO of First National Real Estate, Ray Ellis, has been doing just that with automated Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts.

"It's automated so each one of our offices around Australia and New Zealand can upload local content, local information and national information on a regular basis with little involvement from staff at the local office," he says. "Local staff provide the content, but it's automated by the technology.

"We've built the technology ourselves with our partners in the United States; they provide the hardware and we provide the mechanism for making it happen."

While the technology saves staff a lot of time in keeping conversations happening on social media, it's the content that is most important, Ellis says. Every post must show the real estate group has a genuine interest in what's happening in the local community, as well as educating people on real estate matters.

Since First National began this social media strategy about a year-and-a-half ago, it has seen an almost 200 per cent increase in social media engagement with its clients, Ellis says.

"An email inbox has now become a cluttered space. There's a school of thought that email is becoming passé, and perhaps it is for under 25-year-olds as it's been replaced by Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and so on," he says. "We have to engage in that format."

CIO of Ray White Group, Tony Carroll, is also looking to better engage with clients and is developing the real estate's 'Research Bar' iPad app. The iPad is embedded into a table so people can sit and play around with the app while waiting to see a real estate agent, for example.

The app uses Google Maps to search all the Ray White properties for sale in the local area. Users select a property and get an idea on what the average repayments per week would be over a certain period of time if they were to buy the property. The iPad offering has been deployed in select offices so far.

"We have a lot of people coming into the office to pay their rent, looking for rental properties and properties to buy. People might come in saying 'I'm paying say $500 per week in rent, but for $500 per week I could buy this property'. So it might help start a new conversation and get people thinking differently," Carroll says.


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