By David Millett of Equinox

As an estate agent your communications, in other words your telecoms and your website, need to be quick and efficient; both internally between team members, and externally between staff and customers.

So, are your telecoms and website holding your business back? Dave Millett from independent telecoms brokerage Equinox has some advice:

1) Does your website communicate effectively?

Your website needs to talk to buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords, but many estate agency websites concentrate only on buyers. However without sellers, you can’t attract the buyers.

If your website does appeal equally to both, do you know what they are doing once they reach your site? How did they come across your website? How long do they spend on the site? How often do they return?

In addition to Google Analytics look at products such as Canddi and Lead Forensics to take web analytics further and automate much of the functionality and reporting.

2) Talking to the right person first time

Where your agency offers different services, how do you ensure the caller reaches the right person — first time?

Look at systems such as Call Whisper (as used by Right Move), which can help the call recipient be one step ahead of the caller, by literally whispering a message in their ear as they answer the call.

3) Talk to the right people

Most modern phone systems support TAPI which allows the incoming callers number to be recognised and automatically display their relevant information on a PC screen — saving time and improving service by avoiding the need for lots of questions or delays while you try to work out who this person has been dealing with or which property they are referring to. Check your phone system can connect with your CRM and, if not, talk to your CRM provider.

4) Call Recording

Call recording is now very much cheaper than it used to be. It can be done either by virtual inbound numbers (VOIP) or by many modern phone systems which have it on demand. It is a great way to avoid disputes and improve overall customer service. If you’ve dismissed this in the past due to cost, or you’re still paying a lot for the ability to record calls — now is the time to look at what’s new and how it can work for you.

5) Fancy cutting your call costs?

One thing that is common across all estate agents is the huge number of calls made per day, in some cases three times the average of other businesses. However, they are often of very short duration. One estate agency chain in Essex, that we worked with, cut their bill by 50%, simply by moving from capped calls to normal pence per minute pricing. This saved them over £12,000 pa. Even moving to a provider that bills to decimal places and doesn’t round each call up can save 10 - 15%!

6) Internal processes

Are your systems helping or hindering you? Can you, for example, upload images of a new property from the field or do you need to return to the office? Can you record which properties people have seen, and what prevented them putting an offer in? Being able to do so whilst you’re with the potential buyer could provide valuable feedback to the vendor and help them sell the property.

7) Are your staff safe?

One advantage of some apps is their ability to show the GPS location of the mobile device. This can be helpful particularly if you have female staff going out to show people around properties, providing your staff with reassurance you know where they are and, should the worst happen, a way of finding them.

8) Are you always available?

The nature of an estate agency is that staff are often out showing people round properties. Modern VOIP and phone systems give you the option of using apps, such as Bria, which can be added to your smartphone and will ring at the same time as your desk phone, meaning you don’t need to be at your desk to answer the call. It also means calls be passed out to staff without the need to provide them a mobile phone of their own. It also avoids the costs of diverting calls to mobiles.

9) Can video help sell houses?

New technologies mean that for c. £35 a month staff can create real time webinars /video conferences meaning prospective buyers don’t even have to visit a property. It can provide a virtual open house and help identify the really interested buyers without doing multiple viewings. This does not require expensive technology but utilises capabilities of most smart phones and tablets.

If you’d like to benchmark your web and telecoms there is a quick questionnaire which will give you an idea of where your weaknesses are and how you can improve. Visit: talkingtoyourcustomers.co.uk

By considering each of the above points you can create a plan for your website and telecoms that will boost your estate agency business, increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.