Design Explorations for Adding a Contact

Here are some quick and effective solutions we came up with for a real estate agent to add his business contacts to Housing for Agents app.

I am part of the UX and Research team with Akanksha Singh and Manasi Kothari working on Housing for Agents, an app for real estate agents to manage their leads and properties and boost their business with the help of an Agent network. This story is about what we did to make a real estate agent add his business contacts to this app quickly and easily.

Early Research Findings

We realized few important things from our early user research. Firstly, 90% of the calls real estate agents get on their mobile phones are business-related... i.e. they either talk to their leads or other agents or landlords. In fact, we have met Agents who maintain separate phones for business and personal purposes. Secondly, they typically note down these business contacts and their requirements or property details in a diary. We started pondering, “Can we use this fact to make them quickly and easily add business contacts to the app?”

Imagine the life of a real estate agent. Here is a sample first time conversation:

Lead: “Hello, I am Ravi. I am looking to rent a flat in Delhi. Can you help?”
Agent: “Yes Ravi. Please specify your requirements. Are you looking for a 1BHK / 2BHK / 3BHK? and what is your budget?”
Lead: “I am looking for a 1BHK. If there is a good 2BHK, I can get another person to stay with me. My budget is around Rs. 15,000.”
Agent: “No problem. What areas are you looking for?”
Lead: “My office is in Hauz Khas. So, any decent place in and around Hauz Khas should work.”
Agent: “Sure sir. I have a couple of flats meeting your requirements. You can come to my office and I will show them to you.”
Lead: “Can I come today afternoon at 4 pm?”
Agent: “Yes sir.”

and all this talk might happen when the Agent is busy showing flats to some other lead. Here is what usually happens after the call. The agent, whenever he gets time, takes out his diary and notes down the name and contact details of the new lead and his requirements. He probably calls the owner of the properties he wants to show to this lead and confirm the availability at 4 pm. He then calls the lead at 3.30 pm to confirm that he is coming and then takes him to the properties.

Here are the problems with this approach:

  1. The Agent might forget the name or requirements of the lead if there is a time gap between the call and him noting them down in his diary.
  2. It takes a bit of effort to search and find the appropriate owner’s contact, especially for Agents who maintain lot of properties.
  3. The Agent cannot afford to forget about his new lead coming in at 4 pm.
  4. The Lead may not share all his requirements in the first call. He might be looking for a car parking but may have forgot to mention this to the Agent. So, if the property that the Agent is going to show does not have a car parking, its a waste of time for both of them.

So, this is what we came up with to address these issues —

You can navigate through the marvel prototype to see the flow described below.

After every call, we show a popup that asks the user to add the person as a business contact to the app. If he says no, the popup won’t appear again for this number. If he says yes, he will be taken to ‘add contact’ screen where he can enter name, phone no. is pre-populated and choose if its a lead or an agent or an owner. If its a lead, he can also enter his requirements and as soon as he does that, we take him to the detail page of the lead where he immediately sees properties matching the lead’s requirements which he can share with the lead instantly! The property detail pages will also have the owner’s numbers to make it easy for the agent to call and confirm the availability.

He can also set a reminder to call this lead at 3.30 pm. And he gets a notification at 3.30 pm with call action on it, so that he needn’t even open the app. Thus, the whole cycle is streamlined.

Post Call Popup Design

For a normal person, showing a popup after every call may sound irritating but for a real estate agent whose life runs on phone calls from clients, this seemed like a good solution.

Explorations for the post-call popup design

As you can probably guess, one main debate among ourselves was choosing between direct buttons for “add a lead”, “add an agent” etc. vs. having a yes / no action which takes him to the add contact screen in the app. We finally went ahead with the binary action as its much simple to take a call whether to add a contact to the app or not. If we show too many elements to the user, its difficult for him to comprehend, especially for the non-tech savvy user group that we were targeting. We wanted our users to understand what the question means and take an action immediately, without having to think too much.

The other point we had to take into account was Truecaller. Most agents have Truecaller app installed which also shows a post-call widget that occupies 60% of the screen from the bottom. So, we wanted our popup to come above and on top of it and to be very simple to take action upon.

To make it less annoying and more helpful, we are doing two simple things.

  1. This popup won’t appear between 9 pm to 9 am, as its unlikely that the agent gets important business calls at that time.
  2. This popup won’t appear for calls that end before 15 seconds as they are most likely spam and/or definitely not from a business contact.

Quicktagging

Showing this popup after every call did seem to be annoying for a few agents. Especially if it comes even when they talk to their family or relatives or friends. So, we realized that this popup solution won’t work in this scenario and we had to design another solution to let them add business contacts who are already present in their phonebook. Then we came up with a feature we internally called as “quicktagging” which essentially means, the user can quickly tag a phonebook contact as a lead or an agent or an owner.

This is how the quicktagging screen looks like. We show it once during onboarding as it is mostly a one-time thing to be done in the beginning. The user can also access it anytime from his contacts page in the app.

After we have introduced this feature, we stopped showing the popup to calls from people who are already in the phone contacts.

Latest research also told us another interesting thing. A lot of agents said that they may not know if a lead is serious or not in the first call itself. They get fake calls or junk calls that don’t convert lot of times. So if we show the popup for first time, they may not be willing to add the person as a lead as they don’t want to add junk. The popup might help if the same person calls for the second time. So, we are now thinking of doing an A/B test of showing the popup after first time call vs. second time call and compare the ratio of taps on yes vs. no on the popup.


Alternate Explorations

Some other design explorations we did for making it easy for our users to add contacts to this app -

#1 Automation

The leads an agent gets from Housing.com are automatically added to this app along with their requirements, whenever they call / request for call back on a particular property posted by the Agent.

If we identify that some of his phonebook contacts exist in our database as users of our app, we automatically add them as Agents.

#2 Messenger-Like Chathead

Messenger like bubble for adding business contacts from recent call log

To make the popup even less intrusive, we are still exploring few other options. After every call, a Facebook Messenger sort of chathead shows up on the screen with a number. The user can either dismiss it or tap on it to see 3 most recent calls and he can directly add them to the app. The advantage with this approach is that it not only feels less intrusive but also helps if the agent wants to add a contact either immediately or only after second call. Moreover, it doesn’t stop the user from doing other tasks on his mobile

#3 Hook in the Notification center

We got this idea from a feature in Any.do, a task management app. Essentially, there is always a hook in the notification center of the phone to add business contacts from call log. But this may not be an effective solution and also may seem irritating for users who already receive a lot of notifications.