The nature of Customer service within the United States has changed. How often do you interact with a machine prior or instead of talking with a human being?
We are being trained to bypass "humans" unless absolutely necessary. And, for many of us, the necessity of human interaction for many tasks is diminishing. Even a trip to the grocery store has us checking ourselves out and bagging our own groceries.
This trend towards automation has serious implications for any business that relies on interpersonal communication. On one hand, we all need and desire human interaction. But, the trade-off is that human interaction is highly unpredictable and machines are while non-personal are fairly dependable...until they break down.
Furthermore, many jobs that do require human interaction can often be outsourced to other countries for much less than the average American worker expects to be paid. Did you know that many banks are now outsourcing their customer service inquiries to overseas call centers to handle the deluge of the foreclosure crisis. While Americans are loosing their homes... Customer Service agents from Asia may be your first human contact about basic inquires which may be required when negotiating a short sale. This, of course is only after you've interacted with the machine!
Real Estate Professionals need to gain a clear understanding of the elements which make their jobs unique. Providing Homeowners with a Value for their property is no longer unique! Creating and Perfecting a Pricing Strategy which interprets and responds to the changing dynamics of a volatile real estate market is!
There are many companies seeking to bridge the gap of professional expertise regarding property values. This should serve as a challenge to re-define our role and value to the consumer. Zillow and Redfin and other on-line service providers are renegotiating the contract the consumer has with the source of their information. This process will accelerate in the future. Do NOT expect it to go away!
Real Estate professionals have the most hands-on real life experience of local real estate markets. However if consumers are not convinced about the superior value we can provide, they will understandably feel it prudent to pay much less, if at all, for services they can find elsewhere at a better value. So while a computer or individual overseas cannot provide local expertise it really doesn't matter if consumers don't BELIEVEthat you can. If you have succumbed to the tendency to define your real estate career by your proficiency in routine...you are in the process of becoming irrelevant.
Many industry's have faced this challenge in the past are successfully re-inventing themselves. I can remember the days in which secretaries typed, took notes and answered phones. Today, I can hire a service to do that for much less than the wages I would pay to a secretary. However Administrative Assistants now operate in a fashion far more sophisticated than early practitioners of the craft. Today, an Administrative Assistant may be involved in book keeping, scheduling and coordinating meetings and researching...a far cry from the routine involved in answering phones all day.
We need to wake up to the fact that real estate practitioners who are NOT re-defining their roles will be DEFINED by the narrow constraints of the market. This instinct, like a herd mentality will drive hard towards the lowest common denominator, until and unless, it is convinced that to do so is not in it's best interest. This question must be addressed if we expect to have a Future for Work as Real Estate Professional.
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