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3 lockdown lessons for estate agents and the steps to take now

Over the last couple of months, we’ve found ourselves in completely unknown territory. 

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been impacted in one way or another by the pandemic. And this impact is set to continue for some time yet.

For estate agents, in particular, the lockdown has meant branches have had to close, staff have had to be furloughed, and viewings and valuations have had to be entirely rethought.

But now, as we anticipate life after lockdown, we explore some of the key lessons and takeaways for property agents, as the sector braces itself for an ‘anything-but-ordinary’ return to work.

1. Being flexible is key to success

For agencies new to remote working, ensuring business continuity has been a daunting prospect; with technical glitches and logistical hurdles to combat.

However, thanks to advances in technology and flexible solutions like outsourcing, remote working is a viable and productive option for many businesses – with an estimated 1.5 million* people in the UK already thought to be working from home prior to COVID-19.

In fact, embracing a flexible work ethic could transform business for estate agents, with our recent report indicating that around 40% of UK businesses have found communication and productivity levels to be better than before, during the lockdown.

Next steps: Life after lockdown will, of course, present new challenges again, with strict social distancing measures to adhere to. Moving forward it will be critical for agents to foster a flexible approach with customers, employees, and partners.

Consider the various tools and tech you could implement to help you, your staff, and customers communicate more freely so that you can remain open and accessible – at all times.

This may mean opting for overflow support as and when you need it, from an outsourcing provider, to help enhance your customer care whilst staff are furloughed or working from home. As well as using video conferencing tools such as Zoom, to conduct viewings or inspections, and instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp to share images and important updates, or installing a live chat function on your website so customers can reach you instantly, around the clock.

2. Human interaction is more important than ever

Without physical access to the office, human interaction has become even more invaluable.

Our recent study revealed that for 53% of estate agents, the phone remains the most popular way for customers to reach them. And we estimate that figure will have increased significantly over recent months. During such uncertain times, we return to what we know best – the human touch; we want reassurance that our queries are being handled and that we’re being listened to.

An unanswered phone or a voicemail could lose you valuable business; with 69% of callers hanging up when greeted by the answering machine. It’s therefore vital to create a customer journey that’s dynamic and resilient, in order to withstand these unprecedented times.

Next steps: Ensuring your customers have one clear and consistent channel to reach you on will be crucial in maintaining a quality customer experience and retaining vital business over the coming months, as the shifting climate continues.

If, like many agencies, you’ve had to furlough reception staff or you’re faced with limited resources, outsourcing your telephone answering is one effective way to capture incoming enquiries and guarantee outstanding customer service, every time, so that no sales opportunity is missed.

3. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Although the current circumstances were impossible to predict, having a robust business continuity plan in place will help your agency to recover more quickly when an unexpected situation does arise.

Investing in cloud-based technology and ensuring employees are equipped with the tools they need to work safely, will ensure your customer journey will continue with as little impact as possible, no matter where you or your team are working from.

Next steps: Keeping communication flowing and remaining accessible will be key to a quick recovery.

If you’ve had to furlough reception staff, then a telephone answering service can provide you with scalable support, when you need it most. Your Moneypenny Receptionist specialises in the property sector and can answer calls exactly as if based within your agency, so you can guarantee your callers always receive a professional response.

Alternatively, with your office now closed, or opening with restricted hours, your website has become your main shop window. Maximising it with a tool like Live Chat is a simple yet effective way to manage and triage enquiries; boosting sales opportunities by 50%. You can also rely on versatile support, as and when needed, from a Moneypenny Property Receptionist.

How can Moneypenny help? 

If your business has been affected by recent circumstances and you’d like more support or information about our business continuity solutions, then please contact us to find out how we can help. Call us today on 0333 202 1005.

*Data source: BBC

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