According to the most recent Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, just 37% of people in the UK said they trusted estate agents to tell the truth. Although the profession is the 6th least trusted in the UK, in reality, trust appears to be on an upward swing, and pending the results of the 2022 survey, it’s at a 7-year high.
However, it’s pretty clear there’s a trust issue between the average UK citizen and estate agents, with the profession regularly appearing in the bottom 5 or 6 of the Veracity Index.
There could be a multitude of reasons why a person may not trust an estate agent, just as they may mistrust any profession or business – their personal experience, media representation… we could go on. Building trust is obviously a wider challenge driven by everything from leadership and culture to having the right processes in place.
That being said, one area that should definitely be prioritised when it comes to building trust is the digital customer experience. Having the right strategy and digital products in place to facilitate and deliver the customer experience is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to building great relationships with your clients.
Let’s look at how estate agents can use digital to restore and build trust and make life easy for everyone going through a property transaction.
Digital and trust
There are a plethora of stats around how websites and digital experiences are linked with trust. 94% of users don’t trust an outdated website or digital experience, while 57% of users also say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poor mobile experience. 71% of consumers say that relevant, personalised content delivered at the right time by a brand increases trust. This is particularly important to millennials and Gen Z, who will be the main home buyers and sellers in the years to come.
And that’s just a taster of some of the stats around how your website experience and marketing impact trust. Providing an elevated digital experience when it comes to buying or selling and engaging with your estate agency spans across your processes, comms and systems – customer-facing portals, integration with internal systems, your website, promotion on property marketplaces, and much more.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into how using the right digital products driven by the right strategy can help to facilitate trust between you and your clients.
The more services and experiences that become digital, the more consumers have come to expect increased transparency and visibility with organisations they interact with. Over 90% of consumers say that brand transparency is important to purchase decisions. Transparency becomes even more imperative when it comes to a significant investment like property.
Buying or selling a property is obviously a long process with a lot of complicated steps, many of which the estate agent will take ownership of and responsibility for moving the proceedings on. Not having visibility of this and progress against the process is a key area for potential in creating mistrust and frustration between estate agents and their clients.
Utilising customer-facing digital products such as a customer portal or app combined with improved communication powered by digital processes can help you provide improved visibility and transparency for your clients.
Along with transparency and visibility, the other thing that the home buyers and sellers of today crave is more control. Self-service tools are now the expected norm, and potential buyers in particular are likely coming to interact with you later and later in the process – likely having found the property via a marketplace like Rightmove or Zoopla – and therefore may feel like they have to relinquish a little of the control they’ve had over the process so far at that stage.
Digital products give buyers and sellers the ability to check progress and gauge interest in their property as and when they want. Harnessing these kind of tools gives them some of the control of using a digital-first estate agent with all the benefits of using a traditional estate agent’s expertise and elevated level of service.
In addition, they can also get more control over their personal data. Integrating client-facing products with back-end systems like CRM or marketing automation can help you and your clients to seamlessly manage their contact preferences. Knowing they’re not going to receive unwanted communication from you also goes a long way to increasing trust in your brand.
In 2020, there was a 20% increase in formal complaints to the Property Ombudsman about estate agents – with poor communication being one of the top causes for complaint. While poor communication is easily avoided in many cases, providing the exact level of communication buyers and sellers would prefer may not always be possible in a busy estate agency. Using digital platforms and channels to facilitate and drive communication between you, buyers, sellers and other parties like conveyancers and landlords improves the experience for everyone involved and in turn helps to build trust. – not to mention the operational costs savings
We’ve helped other estate agents and home builders find a way forward to improving the user experience with digital products via our discovery sprints.
Want to build trust in your estate agency through digital? Start a project with us and create the right strategy.