Redfin has built its brokerage business on technology, but how does the Seattle-based company decide what to build?

Redfin has built its brokerage business on technology — but how does the Seattle-based company decide what to build?

The most important objective is to keep the customer in mind and empathize with his or her home buying challenges, said Pei-Chin Wang, the senior director of product at Redfin, during an opening-day Inman Connect San Francisco 2018 seminar at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel on Tuesday.

“When you solve that customer’s problem, they will love you back and give you loyalty,” Wang told hundreds of attendees during a Hacker Connect session called “How We Built It: Redfin’s Approach to User-Centric Products.”

Wang said she and her fellow product builders try to envision themselves in the shoes of a parent with two kids in the backseat of a car, driving to multiple open houses on a Sunday, an important step in building a better user experience.

It’s important to evaluate both quantitive and qualitative data because often customers are not entirely honest, or are often uncertain of what they want in a new home, Wang said. When surveying customers about what they want in a home search tool, the company got very different answers than when they tracked users search habits.

A customer’s “must haves” are arguably the most challenging part of the search process because the home buyer doesn’t always know what he wants up front, Wang said. Customers have a serious fear of missing out so they “under filter.”

To narrow its focus when it’s developing products, Redfin uses an abridged, three-day version of Google’s Design Sprint, a program that helps businesses with the design problem-solving process.

“It’s a great tool to help teams break out from their existing silos to think about the whole customer journey,” Wang said. 

Another challenge that real estate technology companies face is the length of the homebuying process.

Purchase cycle is so much longer than a typical e-commerce site,” Wang said. “From someone thinking about buying a house to actually buying a house can take months, sometime years.”

“A pretty user experience isn’t going to cut it,” she added.

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