Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Technology vs. Service

With all the new technology are agents still offering people a service?

There is an abundance of new technology that agents are now able to use to increase their efficiency. There is a fine line that agents must walk to make sure that they don’t get absorbed by the new systems and products available to them and lose their personal touch with their customers. It is important for agents to maximize the use of their time, their most precious asset. Most new products have enabled them to do just that with the cell phone being the best example.

Before the cell phone there were awkward moments when a prospective Buyer asked to see a house they were driving by. What to do? Knock on the door without warning? …Find a pay phone? …Hope that the Buyer will wait to see it later? All the while wondering where that sign came from knowing that your Buyer is wondering why it wasn’t on their tour to begin with. With cell phones agents are always able to communicate, and to be communicated with.

The new cell phones offer the agent even more capabilities. Not only can they receive text messages, they can send and receive regular email. They can send photos instantly – a wonderful way to keep your customer up to date in a competitive market. They can also receive notices of showings – a message from the central computer that updates lockbox keys telling them who showed a listing and when they did it.

Phone messaging technology and computer services have also advanced and proliferated lately. Agents can subscribe to services that alert them to For Sale By Owner properties in their area, Expired listings, and even a program that calls ahead to determine if somebody is home before they call to solicit business thus saving them precious seconds in their day. Most of these services are employed in the fast paced competitive world of the urban markets, not so much in our local market, but it is good to know of their existence.

Our Advice: Your agent must be able to wean himself from his computer to show you a home. If they are all “teched out” to be in constant touch with … who knows who… and aren’t focused on you and your wants, they are not offering you the personal service that you need and deserve. When they are with you they should be focused on you. The real estate industry inherently involves problem solving, and there are certainly times when real problems with time deadlines must be addressed. In those instances, your agent can explain his predicament to you and handle the matter discretely. Remember, the next crisis could be yours and you would want your agent to be available to solve it in a timely manner for you.

It is important that your agents be current with technology and its benefits – most of it is beneficial to you, the consumer. The agent that prides himself on not being able to turn on a computer isn’t keeping up with the industry and won’t be current with the information you will need to make your buying/selling decisions. There must be an understanding, however, as to what is important, you the customer who the agents worked so hard to connect with and to serve, or their constant availability to others while with you. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.

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