Automation is often misunderstood and feared. Tales of robots taking our jobs and making humans obsolete spread like a disease. Lone battles fought by automation and AI visionaries often ignore important arguments raised by automation sceptics. From a doom and gloom vision of the future to an over-optimistic view of a technological paradise, it’s hard to see the middle ground in these predictions.
Leaving aside both extremes, automation is not exactly a distant future. It’s here now. And its main aim, in any sector, is to improve workflow and increase productivity.
In this article, we will concentrate on the practical applications and benefits of automation for commercial property, which include:
There is a lot of talk about customer experience both online and offline. Brands, aided by technology, design customer experience to build long-lasting relationships and secure repeated business. You too could optimise the experience of your clients by automating your workflow, shortening the response time and delivering more coherent services between teams. For example, if your lease team closes a deal and records all the lease information in a centralised database, then the information can be accessed and used by your professional services teams.
The sleek feel
Automation allows you to push customers in the direction you want them to take. For instance, for a particular segment of customers you could automatically send a list of properties that match their requirements. This ensures your customers are well informed, and you never miss an opportunity to close a deal.
Consistency in your communications is an influential factor when building your digital presence. Your offline assets should correspond with your online look and feel.
One of the biggest challenges for anyone wanting to use digital in the heart of their marketing activities is to have a centralised database that links with other systems used by the staff.
If you connect your central database (like a Customer Relationship Management [CRM] system) with other software solutions used by teams across the organisation, you will create a central hub where information is fed into and from in a seamless fashion via APIs (Application Programming Interface). This provides you with an overview of your clients and all their touchpoints and interactions with your team.
Your team is busy. Everyone is trying to qualify enquiries and secure as many viewing as possible to close deals. Advising and bringing business to clients is what matters most. Why, then, would you want your team to spend long hours on mundane admin that can be easily automated?
It’s likely your team consists of well-paid professional. Their time is valuable. Hence, you want them to spend their working hours on things that are most important for your clients and the bottom line. If, by automating marketing and admin tasks, you can save a few hours a week and consequently improve productivity, you could save pounds and pennies for your company. If you can free up time to schedule more viewings and convert them into more closed deals, that would generate more revenue. A higher revenue and similar (or lower) spend, keeps your investors happy.
For instance, inputting enquiries from various portals like Rightmove and Zoopla into your CRM system is very labour intensive. This task can be automated with the right software, which would record enquiries along with their source. This then allows analysis of the performance of your marketing channels and the determination of the ROI on money spent for each channel.
Digital, with its tracking abilities, enables organisations to record data that can be used to calculate the ROI and help forecasting of future investments. If you haven’t spent any marketing budget to advertise on portals before and plan to do so, you won’t have any past data to base your estimates on. After running campaigns on various portals, you will have a better understanding of where to allocate your budget if you track enquiries from all channels.
With well-recorded and maintained data, you can be even more granular. For instance, if you record all enquiries coming from Rightmove, Zoopla or EG Propertylink and assign the source tag to them, you can then start segmenting the data into sub-categories for analysis. Sub-categories can be defined by a type of property, its size or even location. Some portals might work better for smaller size units in retail or industrial while others can perform much better for large office spaces. Knowing which channel drives the most enquiries for each type and size of properties will allow you to be really precise with your marketing investments and improve your ROI.
The world is obsessed with data. Within an organisation, it’s often the case that information such as contact details and building specs are stored in multiple databases. Your company might have marketing software, an accounting platform, analytics tools and a CRM system that are not interconnected and don’t feed information into each other, thus you will see a very fragmented picture of your clients’ activities. This poses the challenge of avoiding task duplication, communication mismanagement and losing on potential upsell revenue.
Having access to a full data profile of all clients can help assess churn, account-manage your existing client base and plan for cross-selling and upselling to grow business. Imagine the scenario: you closed a new deal on one of your instructions a few months ago and recorded all the lease details in the system. The information is fed to your property management software. Your professional services use the data to accommodate their day-to-day tasks and create potential to upsell or cross-sell. Your marketing team has access to it too. Using the data, they can draw insights and estimate the churn or forecast growth.