Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia, is keynoting Real Estate Connect San Francisco, and will be tackling the high expectations that consumers have, and the role online providers such as Trulia play in creating better consumer experiences in fulfilling those expectations.
Listing sites have won the traffic game with a laser focus on the search process. Now the question becomes, what’s next? What responsibility do these providers have in helping to create a positive experience for the homebuyer?
Don’t miss Flint’s keynote, as he wraps up Wednesday at Real Estate Connect sharing how these high expectations and newly ubiquitous mobility are changing the way the industry needs to serve them.
Inman What’s the most disruptive force changing the economy and consumer behavior and why?
PF: I’ve always been fascinated by technology, but I think most people would agree that for many years there was a lot of technology — whether it was for consumers or businesses — that seemed to have been built to please its creators more than its intended users.
Today we live in a different world. People, especially in developed countries like the United States, are experiencing a renaissance in devices and services that are catered to their every need and designed to delight them. Music is downloaded wirelessly from anywhere. Large, engaging user interfaces are controlled by the touch of the finger, and convenience is the order of the day.
But the driving force behind this revolution is consumers with high expectations that are voting with their dollars and their clicks on the products and services that are easy to use and fun.
The companies that are doing it right are using powerful technologies — whether that’s big data, mobile, or both — to deliver great consumer experiences that help consumers make more informed choices, as well as creating more efficiencies in marketplaces.
As a result, consumers don’t have patience to use services that are inconvenient or clunky. Think about what you can do with your phone these days — from hailing a ride, to ordering food to be delivered to your door, to consuming virtually any kind of content. Access to information and content anytime, anywhere, changes expectations, so the bar is rising and changing the fortunes of companies and the economy.
Inman: Every day there are more services described as “Uber for X.” Do you think this trend will continue? If so, what’s next? If no, why not?
PF: The advent of ubiquitous smartphones has made the technology necessary to deliver new consumer services, widely available. Some of these services, such as Uber, collapse what were typically half a dozen steps into a single experience to create a breakthrough experience.
During the first Internet age, we saw a similar movement of killer apps. Back then it was services such as eBay, Google and Amazon.
There’s no doubt there will continue to be demand for services that meet and exceed the expectations of the people using them. There are endless opportunities for companies that do the hard work of diagnosing and then building products and services that solve problems for people.
The term “Uber for X” is an umbrella for some other interesting trends that are relevant to many industries, including our own. First of all, mobile is becoming the most important place to reach and serve consumers who want to do something. Consider that in Mary Meeker’s latest Internet report, she noted that mobile is 25 percent of global Internet usage and 19 percent in North America, up from 11 percent last year.
This demonstrates how important mobile devices and networks have become and is a reminder that people use their phones to do so many different things during any given day. Navigating traffic (Waze), listening to music (Pandora), finding local businesses (Yelp), booking a room (Airbnb) and working out (FitBit) is all mobile now. And I expect to see these trends continue.
What this means for the industry is that consumers are used to doing more and more on their phones, they expect great service, and they will reward the companies that deliver it to them.
Inman: What’s the one trend you’re keeping an eye on for 2015 and why?
PF: Everyone in the real estate industry has contributed to its massive transformation over the last five to 10 years. A lot of what was happening offline is now happening online, and much of that large shift has already happened. The trend I will be watching is what companies can begin to deliver real insights to consumers and to real estate agents, not just data.
What our research has shown is that people first experience a lot of excitement when they begin their home search, followed by a painful period as they begin to drown in data, and struggle to figure out what they should do. Ultimately, once they connect with a real estate professional, their experience improves, but addressing the painful parts of the process is an opportunity for companies.
Real estate agents and brokers are also awash in information, but hungry for insight into how they can better serve their customers and become more effective marketers.
The opportunity now is for companies to deliver real insights, not just data to their customers, whether that’s consumers or for real estate agents and brokers.
Inman: What is the one thing real estate needs to do to innovate on the consumer experience?
PF: There are many things the industry can do, but if I had to pick one, it would be to think from the perspective of consumers. Have empathy for what a consumer goes through in the home search process. Be mindful of the anxiety, the “emotional roller coaster,” and joy that people get once they find the right place to live. Real estate agents and brokers do this every day, working face to face with their clients. But if you are building products and services for consumers, these products need to have the same filter. Once you are thinking from a consumer’s perspective, everything can flow from there.
And because of the new products that are available today, real estate agents have an opportunity to use technology to augment — not replace — what they are already doing. The importance of the human element will never go away, especially for the homebuying process, which is complex and can be emotional.
Inman: What’s the most important takeaway of your talk at Real Estate Connect?
PF: Great innovation is happening right now across the industry, but mobile is emerging as the most important place to be. Real estate has always been a mobile business, but now people have the tools to be more efficient and productive while they’re on the go. That’s why mobile has become an extremely important place where both real estate agents and their clients converge.
I look forward to spending some time talking about what we are seeing in mobility, and why we believe that by providing a seamless, engaging experience for consumers, you create incredible opportunities for real estate agents and brokers to connect with them.