As demand for technology increases, company leaders have no choice but to invest in developing solutions that make the job easier for their people and the consumer experience more engaging. And the real estate industry is no exception.
Yet, while the demand for technology during the initial home search process is high, when it comes to the actual transaction, people still want to work with people, not machines or websites. In fact, a whopping eighty-seven percent of all buyers bought their home through an agent in 2018, according to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS®.
So how does a company blend technology and customer service together?
President of Keller Williams, Josh Team shed insight during an energetic panel moderated by Warburg Realty President Clelia Peters at Inman Connect Las Vegas. Team was joined onstage by Compass CEO Robert Reffkin.
Not Just a Vision – a Reality
“Even with every option at their fingertips for search, consumers are still choosing to work with real estate agents,” shared Team.
“We wake every day asking, ‘how can we empower agents to deliver a better consumer experience?’ By driving down operational costs and building the end-to-end transaction.”
This vision, outlined by Team, first caught the attention of the real estate industry in 2017, when Keller Williams announced they would transform into a technology company. It is core of the company’s commitment to its agents.
“Our strategy is focused on empowering agents, and through technology removing the functionary so they can focus on being the fiduciary providing the best possible experience to their clients.”
Backed by a $1 billion investment earmarked solely for technology development, Keller Williams’ vision has become reality with Command – an end-to-end operational system that debuted early 2019 and has only continued to mature and evolve over time.
“We’re not just casting vision on building a seamless platform. We’re actively rolling it out. Our agents are using it and reaping the benefits we envisioned.”
Over the last six months, several features of Command have been made available to KW agents, including components that assist with graphic design/marketing, contact management, workflow automation and transaction management. Each hits the mark because they were “designed with real estate perspective from the beginning,” said Team.
Technology Designed by Agents for Agents
Whereas many companies still talk about their technology vision or roll out features with the speculation of what agents want or need, Keller Williams has sought to reverse the process and starts with the end users to incorporate them in the development.
Through LABS, top-producing agents converge with Keller Williams leaders, including Gary Keller and Josh Team, and answer the questions, “What do you need to be more profitable in your business? What can we build for you to make you more successful and more scalable?” Solutions are developed and tested by agents and made them available to the entire company. This winning partnership has created unthinkable agent enthusiasm. Early adoption is reaching record numbers.
“More people use our system every hour than any of our competitors have in their ecosystem.”
“We are the only brokerage who has won awards for our technology,” shared Team pointing to accolades from Inman, Forbes and Fast Company.
Together, Everyone Wins
At the forefront of the Keller Williams technology movement is Team, who joined Keller Williams in 2015 as the chief innovation officer and quickly moved into the role of president. Team leads an all-star team of highly sought-after engineers and developers who have joined Keller Williams from an array of companies including SpaceX and IBM to name just a few.
On the panel, Team was asked how Keller Williams can compete on technology engineering talent in an environment where many seek opportunities with IPO companies. Without reservation, Team responded that while there is definitely a sect of engineers who want to work for IPO companies, there are others who want to be a part of a company who can “change how 10 percent of America buys and sells homes with one keystroke and help agents reach new heights.”
In an industry that is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, Team wants everyone to walk away with one takeaway:
“When our agents win, we all win – our focus has always and will always be about building technology that benefits them.”