One of the things that we tried a few years back at our brokerage, was to provide “online chat” on our website for visitors who wanted some quick information. The thought was that it would provide the user a better experience and that we would get many more leads because of it. We thought that the ability to provide an “instant response” would engage customers in conversation. That did not turn out to be the case. So we let the project drift for a couple of years.
So what has changed that may make this strategy become a more effective experience, marketing wise? For starters, many more websites in other industries are using it, so customers are becoming accustomed to it. Customer service off of websites has taken two routes as the battle to balance customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing costs has raged. The first effort was to go offshore, but that has proven to be less than satisfactory to the user. Keeping a fully staffed 24 hour a day team here in the states was out of the cost range for the companies. Thus the popularity of online chat for support.
Add to that these following trends and we MAY have the making of a new option for real estate agents:
- Over the past three years more and more people have become comfortable texting back and forth than ever before. Think about how much more comfortable YOU are with that than 3 years ago.
- People are now much more amenable to the idea of condensing their questions down to a short message and hitting SEND. (Call it the Twitter Factor, or the Facebook status factor, or whatever).
- Online chat USED to be only when you were right in front of your computer. Now smart phones and reliable internet access give us the option of receiving online chats from the website right onto our iPhone or EVO or Droid, etc.
So the bottomline is this…I think it is time to re-visit whether this works on real estate websites in light of the above shifts. So let’s say that you are getting a bunch of HomeGain traffic to your website… Why not give your visitors an additional option to contact you to chat LIVE and let you help them find what they are looking for?
What do you think?