Focusing on the Real Pain Points
At DigitalMove we are focused on bringing the demanded technology to market, without the associated complexity of a bit-part solution. It’s not as simple as just delivering a piece of tech and leaving conveyancers, advisers and clients to get on with it, though.
In the last 31 years, I have worked in almost every part of the property industry and have experienced the many challenges faced by those involved. The verdict on the industry is unanimous – that technology is critical to changing the way the industry operates, but the current myriad of solutions is confusing and causes delays.
At DigitalMove we are focused on bringing the demanded technology to market, without the associated complexity of a bit-part solution. It’s not as simple as just delivering a piece of tech and leaving conveyancers, advisers and clients to get on with it, though. We also need to bring every stakeholder in the home moving process on the journey with us, with the most important being the client.
Throughout my career I’ve learnt a lot, but one learning stands out amongst the rest. Moving home is emotional, deeply personal and stressful. We aren’t just talking about a residence, a property or a building, we’re talking about a home. It’s the most expensive, most stressful and probably most emotional experience a client will go through in their life. Technology needs to make this easier and less stressful, not the opposite.
Expectation setting is key. Clients often start their home moving journey believing their transaction will be simple and straightforward and therefore will be over quickly. However, this is a premature conclusion – at this point, not everyone involved in the process has the necessary data on the property to make a reasonable best-guess. From day one, there is baked-in pressure on the client’s conveyancer, and unless that expectation is managed, we’re off to a bad start.
Keeping up the momentum and communication. There is quite often a feeling with transactions that the pace drops off at points, and sometimes creates the illusion that the conveyancer has stopped working on a case. In the vast majority of cases, this simply isn’t true – the process is just managed inefficiently. Let’s be clear, conveyancers and estate agents are wanting the transaction to reach completion just as much as the client is, with cashflow pressure usually being the driver for these businesses.
Since launching DigitalMove, we have been very active in a process of discovery and have benefitted from the experience of over 30,000 transactions to date. From this, we’ve learnt a huge amount about expectation setting and how to keep momentum and communication up during the management of a transaction.
Another thing we’ve learnt from working with stakeholders, is the need to understand the motivations of clients right at the beginning – I mentioned the need for expectation management earlier, but it’s also important to understand whether the customer actually values a rapid turnaround. If they are, the process should be focused on getting things done quickly, but this needs to be laid out on day dot. There should not be an assumption that speed is the main driver, nor an assumption to the contrary. Communicating with the client and managing expectations once there’s a clear picture of their needs, is a great way to start.
Now, let’s take a moment to focus on the person who put the client into the conveyancing process in the first place. The Estate Agent. The agent is typically the cornerstone of the ‘new business generation’ relationship for the conveyancers. In a high percentage of transactions, they have a strong position of influence to recommend a conveyancer to the home mover.
Estate Agents will choose their suppliers carefully, with local knowledge and trust playing a key part in the decision making process. In the agents eyes, they’re passing over a valuable client who needs to have the best possible experience, as their reputation is, in part, associated with that introduction. Are the conveyancers going to be the best in the country at their job? It’s unlikely, but they are trusted by the agent because of the speed they deal with queries, and often reflect the values of the estate agents themselves. Given how important they are to the process, it’s important that they’re also actively involved in any technological solution which touches their client.
There are plenty of old-hands like me who remember “when I had nothing more than a Day Book, a box of Applicant Cards (Obviously a red box for the Hot ones) and a sales ledger combined with a phone”, but also faster average exchange/completion then we achieve today. But that’s a simplistic view of now versus then, and it’s important that everyone appreciates the many changes that have taken place in the last 30 years.
There is an overwhelming volume of data that needs to be dealt with by conveyancers for transactions these days (and that’s just the straightforward ones), and we can certainly employ technology to add significant value and improve efficiency in this, and many other areas. It’s certainly no surprise that things take so long, or why conveyancers struggle to answer the telephone in 2021.
In summary, there are a lot of pain points in the home moving process. Whether you’re an estate agent trying to protect reputation and keep the client happy, a conveyancer juggling huge caseloads and enquiries, or the client who is trying to keep everything together whilst their home move crawls along, there are plenty.
Technology, and in our case DigitalMove, takes a unique approach in the proptech space of bringing everybody together, tackling their individual pain points and ensuring that our solution is not just technology for technology’s sake. We are focused on the real pain points, finding solutions that don’t compromise anyone’s experience in favour of another’s, and that that delivers something exceptional for the client at the end of it.
The road ahead is long and winding, but we’re on the right one, with the right people. Ahead of us are some very exciting things.