Data. This word has been at the center of many recent debates, from who rightfully owns and controls the data, to how it’s displayed, disseminated and ultimately used. Although most of the conversation seems to focus on listing data, the people at Updater and SkySlope have decided to tackle the issue of client data and how some brokerages inappropriately use it.

  • Updater and SkySlope's integration and new features become available to all SkySlope clients on Feb. 8.
  • The new feature requires agents to enter client information so they can offer the Updater integration to clients.
  • Updater hopes to remedy the client privacy concern with a privacy pledge that educates agents and clients on how their information is used.

Data. This word has been at the center of many recent debates in the real estate industry, from who rightfully owns and controls the data, to how it’s displayed, disseminated and ultimately used.

Although most of the conversation seems to focus on listing data, the people at Updater and SkySlope have decided to tackle the issue of client data and how some brokerages inappropriately use it.

Updater is a software that streamlines the moving process by allowing users to update their account information, connect utilities and forward their mail in one clean sweep.

The software, which is available for individual use, is also available for brokerages to offer to their agents. SkySlope teamed up with Updater to fully complete the contract-to-close loop. The only issue was that some agents weren’t entering the client information needed to fully use the integration.

Why?

Mistrust that leads to missed opportunities

Jenna Weinerman, marketing director at Updater, said that the practice of brokers using client information to send marketing materials without agents’ permission has shown to strain the trust between parties, and can lead some agents to enter incorrect information.

“We integrate with a lot of software, and once in awhile, you’ll see an agent who will put a fake email address into their client management software, or an agent might even put their own email address in as a client email,” Weinerman said. “So it’s still an active email address, but when a marketing email is sent, it goes to the agent instead of the client.”

In an attempt to protect their clients’ data, she said, agents end up doing more harm than good because clients aren’t able to take full advantage of the tools needed to provide an optimal experience.

Weinerman believes that Updater and SkySlope have the key to improving agent-broker trust with their integration and new feature that becomes publicly available to all SkySlope clients today, Feb. 8.

Integration and privacy concerns

When agents are in SkySlope, they are required fill out certain fields so brokers know what they’re reviewing and can move the transaction along.

One of the fields is the client email, which has never been required — until now. It’s an extra step that SkySlope said will make the Updater integration and final stretch of the closing process absolutely seamless.

Before agents enter a client’s information, their brokerage will share a privacy pledge, provided by Updater, that explains why the information is needed, how it will be used and including a guarantee that the information won’t be shared with outside parties.

Weinerman believes that agents won’t hesitate to share client information if they understand why their brokerage needs it.

Of course, the client has a say in this process and can opt out of sharing an email address entirely. Weinerman suggested that agents have a conversation with their clients and walk through the privacy pledge with them before making the final decision.

What the guinea pigs have to say

The Re/Max Results team in Minnesota was the first to test out the new integration and features in December. The general manager, Brenda Tushaus, says it’s too early to truly measure the impact, but the future return on investment looks promising.

Internally, the team has been using SkySlope for about a year, but they opened up agent access in December and used the Updater integration as an incentive. “So far, we probably have 30 percent of our agents who have begun using Updater and SkySlope, which is amazing right out of the chute,” she said.

Tushaus said she hasn’t heard any concerns about privacy when it comes to SkySlope and Updater, but agents have expressed privacy concerns with other software in the past. “With any tech tools we roll out, there are some agents that question the privacy. They don’t want to share their client’s contact information with a tool that the broker might have control over,” she said.

But Tushaus believes that the industry as a whole is getting more accustomed to cloud-based systems and embracing tech as a viable way to increase productivity.

Email Marian McPherson.

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