Innovation: It ain’t all tech
My rather brilliant team are busy re-inventing estate agency right now. Using technology, we’re on a mission to transform a rather crap and costly experience (traditionally) into something that might even entice UK home sellers to like their estate agent. Stranger things may have happened.
In a jiffy you’ll be able to log in to your listing on the emoov.co.uk platform and change your property’s price so that it propagates on the major UK property portals instantly, 24/7. You’ll be able to pre-determine viewing appointment times and see feedback from potential buyers automatically, without having to wait for an estate agent to call you back.
The status of those making offers and whether they have a mortgage arranged and with whom and for how much, are just a few of the morsels that we’ll utilise via technology to empower our customers within what is, conventionally, an opaque, protracted and stressful experience.
Tech has a big part to play in what we do and which is why we’re probably the first estate agents in the UK to employ a team of full time software engineers, designers and product people. And it’s why we’ve just hired Ivan Ramirez, ex VP of Global Product at Groupon.com, to push our platform to ever increasing levels of awesomeness.
Recently I’ve spoken at a number of PropertyTech/PropertyFuture events about technological innovation in the property space, a hot thing right now in the UK. And we’ve been nominated as a Top 50 London Innovator. The Financial Times named us as a Golobal Disruptor last year, alongside AliBaba, Tesla, Uber and NetFlix. Which was nice…
But innovation isn’t just about code, product and platforms. What about the seemingly long forgotten role of people?
We’re innovating using technology, sure. But where the really cool stuff is going on is literally in the skin and bones of our organisation.
You’ll want to use our product to do the heavy lifting when selling your home. Because it will be amazing. But we know that the sensitivities of negotiating that additional couple of thousand pounds with a buyer; dealing with ultimatums over when the deal needs to be over the line; and whether the washing line is staying (seriously) are things that require a human touch. And a damn good one. Dealing direct between buyer and seller using an ‘eBay’ type forum page, doesn’t cut it when you’re selling your prized home for the first time and need guidance, advice and a middle-man to do the shooting for you.
In conversations with tech investors I’ll unashamedly draw the conversation away from code, APIs and apps after a while and I’ll weave in the attributes of my team. A team that has gotten us to be a top 10 UK estate agent on customer service in the past few weeks, rivalling 24,900 others. A team that consistently achieves a price for our customers’ homes that’s 3% higher than our high street competitors. And that receive flowers, chocolates, biscuits and all sorts from ecstatic sellers on a daily basis because they’re so incredible at exceeding their expectations. One happy seller wrote to me this week to explain how, despite the stresses of moving home and a dire legal process, he would ‘…miss speaking to Jodie at emoov every day’. Another emailed to explain how the £700 they’d paid us was ‘…the best money I’ve spent in my 52 years’. ‘Louise rocks!’, one recently inaugurated, uber loyal emoover told us this week via a review posting.
In an industry renowned for being apathetic toward their customers at best, that’s true innovation. The tech helps a lot and provides a nice boost to our valuation multiple (a competitor has just raised £10m at a £100m valuation).
But it’s our people that will win this for us.