My Personal Experience on Digital Dilemmas and Customer orientation

Real estate. Most of us only deal with it a few times in our lives. My wife and I did too. We decided to move, and thankfully, our house has been sold now. But it didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped. That’s why I set a deadline: after that, I would seek the help of another real estate agent. It didn’t come to that. I’d like to share, in a personal yet respectful manner, my reasons for almost switching:

Lack of Proactiveness

Considering that real estate agents typically charge between 0.85% and 1.25% commission, one expects commitment and effort. However, my experience has shown that proactiveness isn’t always a given. Putting up a sign in the yard isn’t enough; I had hoped for more energy and initiative. The fact that the house sold anyway was due to luck and market conditions, not the agent’s activities. The active role was largely absent. We also missed communication throughout the sales process. Advice on making the property more appealing and insight into the sales process are essential. Unfortunately, these aspects were lacking, leading to uncertainty, misunderstanding, and probably unnecessary questions.

And then, the digital challenges…

My experience is that digitalization doesn’t always equal customer-friendliness. Honestly, I’m not sure if other agents handle it better. Here’s how it went roughly: being asked to fill in ‘friendly’ questions in a portal. The result: spending an hour and a half filling in things that, in my opinion, the agent should handle for us! ‘Why is this necessary?’, we wondered. Moreover, these assessment documents are filled with subjective questions. ‘Are all bedrooms well heated?’ ‘Yes, we like fresh air,’ could be an answer. I believe the agent is the expert to assess the level of insulation for a potential buyer. Otherwise, it all becomes too subjective.

My wife’s and my experience is that everything in the real estate world has become excessively digital: being asked to upload my energy label and digitize the former deed of transfer ‘quickly.’ ‘Who is working for whom?’ is what we thought. Is it because, if you have to fill everything in yourself, you can’t hold the agent accountable if you make a mistake? In short, the transition to digital systems has led to a sense of impersonality, in our view.

My wife and I are not the only ones facing this. Recently, I spoke with someone whose 80-year-old mother, after her husband’s passing, struggled with the digital requirements of buying an apartment. This situation underscores the need for a balance between digital efficiency and personal attention, especially for those who are less familiar with digital processes.

The Ideal Real Estate Agent

Let’s end on a positive note. In my opinion, the ideal real estate agent should stand out in the following ways:

Providing a clear sales strategy and a targeted approach, with a thorough understanding of the target audience.
Offering full support, taking on the role of an expert, and completely relieving the selling party of burdens.
Ensuring human interaction and proactiveness throughout the entire sales process.

Do you also experience digital dilemmas when it comes to customer orientation?

I’m curious to know. Perhaps you have examples where you no longer feel like a customer precisely because of digitalization. And if not, I hope to inspire other organizations that business is still about people and the willingness to help each other move forward.

Alfred van Duren

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