Real estate remains a very call-centric business, but millions of leads are being left at the curb—literally. Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad, a 30-year mobile industry veteran, examines how this problem can be solved.
Maria Patterson: You have said, “42 percent is the scariest number in real estate.” What do you mean by this?
Randall Standard: What’s scary is that 42 percent of the hottest leads in real estate—property inquiries from yard signs—go directly to voicemail.
MP: Agents are cellphone-centric, so you would think that has allowed them to be more responsive to their clients, right?
RS: You might think that, but you would be dead wrong. With all the functionality that’s baked into a smartphone, agent responsiveness should be instantaneous, but it’s not, because, as humans, we can still only handle one live conversation at a time. It’s not the agent’s fault.
Still, these missed opportunities have a direct impact on an agent’s income, reputation and the reputation of the brokerage. A potential buyer may wonder, “What good are they if they don’t answer my call?”
MP: If an agent is busy with another client, is it a bad thing that a call from a new lead ends up going to voicemail?
RS: Yes, because it can be avoided. The dynamics of an incoming call from a buyer are very different than following up with a buyer. Our industry focuses on response times to leads: The sooner the agent responds, the better.
But this strategy misses the point: These calls need to be answered the moment they arrive, even when an agent is busy. That’s because potential buyers don’t care why the agent was unavailable; all they know is that they weren’t available when they needed them most.
MP: Forty-two percent is a pretty precise number. How did you arrive at it?
RS: In addition to IDX-based text and GPS mobile site products, VoicePad processes (and counts) yard signage inquiries in over 300 U.S. markets. We’ve processed 6.2 million property inquiries by phone in the last three years, with 17 percent requesting a transfer to the listing agent. That’s approximately a million live call transfers from the curb. VoicePad employs “call supervision” on transferred calls: 42 percent of these transferred calls terminated in a voicemail system.
MP: Can the 42 percent problem be solved?
RS: Absolutely, and that’s been our focus at VoicePad. We are a unique solutions provider that now employs the following four types of technologies to make sure a curb call is answered immediately, or that the information the buyer requested is delivered in an automated format (voice or text):
• Identifiable buyer ringtone: Agents can set a unique ring tone to alert the agent to an incoming “money call.”
• Simultaneous ring technology: Agents, teams or brokerages can have multiple phone numbers all ring at the same time when a money call comes in.
• MLS speech technology: VoicePad can deliver up-to-date, in English and Spanish, audio information about the listing extracted from the MLS while the buyer is on the call.
• Auto-response: In the event that the call is not answered, VoicePad automatically texts the buyer’s cellphone with the agent’s name and contact info, including a tracking link to the property being requested.
These are proven technologies: VoicePad serves many of the most well-respected real estate brands in the U.S. and Canada. For many firms, the overhead savings are dramatic, as the alternative is to hire more administrative support and receptionists to handle call volume.
For more information, visit www.voicepad.com.