Being in the real estate business, your phone system has the potential to be a huge contributor to your success. Of course, if your phone system is lacking or outdated, it can also be a detractor.
For instance, a report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that buyers looked for agents who were responsive, and roughly half of all buyers found it important that their agent is up-to-speed on modern technology.
Another NAR report found that “responsiveness was ranked as very important by 92 percent of home buyers and sellers” and “communication skills were ranked very important by 83 percent of consumers.”
The thing is, not only is communication important, but the NAR reports that “when communicating with their agent, recent buyers found it important that their agent personally calls to inform them of activities.
In other words, being responsive and prioritizing communication, particularly over the phone, is critical for success in real estate.
But consider this: 94% of realtors said they communicate with clients via email, 90% through text message, and 91% by telephone. And nearly a third of realtors said they spent more time working outside the office than they did inside their office. So, realtors are spending more and more time outside the office, yet clients still want and expect better and faster communication.
Email and text messages are typically on-hand at all times and are on par with modern technology, but how about your phone system? Is it outdated, complicated, expensive, or difficult to manage? Can you take it with you on your mobile device when you leave the office? Does it allow you to stay connected across multiple offices and locations?
Being in such a communication-heavy industry and using a sub-par phone system that’s not up to speed with modern technology is simply counterproductive. Yet the NAR found that one of the biggest challenges real estate firms are facing today is keeping up with technology. That means real estate businesses that modernize their phone system – which is perhaps one of their most valuable assets – to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution can gain a serious competitive advantage.
In fact, VoIP for real estate agents can:
- Empower communication with clients to be faster and more efficient no matter where you are.
- Give a more professional and trustworthy brand image.
- Save money.
- Enable connection and consolidation between multiple offices into one phone system.
- Make using and managing a phone system extremely easy.
So, if you’re ready to bring your professionalism and client communication to the current generation – or if you’re just tired of your outdated, expensive, complicated, boring phone system – this VoIP for real estate guide will shed some light on what you could and should be looking for in your phone system.
Image and Client Experience
Interactive Voice Response
Have you ever had to call a company only to have the phone ring what seemed like a hundred times before having a seemingly confused person answer the phone to tell you called the wrong department and that they’ll have to transfer you someplace else?
It seems like such a small inconvenience to everyone else, but it can be a really big deal to the person who decided to take time out of their day to place a phone call when they could have just as easily let the Internet replace the need for human interaction. But phone calls are personal and meaningful, so it’s of utmost importance that people in any type of sales or service role take every step possible to make them seamless and stress-free.
But how can you do that? How can you make sure that every call gets answered and that nearly every caller reaches the right place?
That’s where VoIP phone systems shine. They typically come with what’s called an IVR (Interactive Voice Response), which is a technical name for an auto-responder or an automated answering system. In other words, whenever you call into a company that has an IVR, you hear something like:
”Thank you for calling (Company XYZ). To reach sales, press 1…”
That’s an IVR.
IVRs help ensure that every caller hears a professional initial answer for their call, and then it ensures that they get to the person they need to speak with.
Find Me, Follow Me
However, it can be beneficial for callers, clients, and potential clients to hear a human voice answer the phone. The good news is, with VoIP phone systems, you can turn the IVR (automated answering) off and on as needed.
The thing is, a realtor’s office is never really in one place. That’s what’s makes VoIP for real estate even better: When you decide you want to turn the IVR off and answer the phone manually, you can usually choose to have calls “follow” you wherever you may be. That means you don’t have to send people to voicemail prematurely whenever you’re out and about.
For example, you can set your phone up so that calls first go to your desk at work. If you don’t answer there, the call can go to your cell phone. Then, if you still don’t pick up, you can have it go to your home office phone. In this scenario, the call has essentially “followed” you and checked to see if you’re able to pick up any of your phones before sending the call to voicemail. And if you know you’re going to be out of the office and simply want all calls to go to your mobile device, you can do that with VoIP phone systems as well.
Having that kind of technology enables you to have a level of responsiveness and connectivity that is sure to impress leads and clients.
Plus, nothing makes a customer angrier than waiting for 15 rings before they speak to a real person. VoIP phone systems help you avoid that altogether.
But, what about the times when callers do have to wait before speaking with someone? After all, no one is perfect and there will inevitably be times when callers will have to be placed on hold for some reason.
Music On Hold
VoIP phone systems can typically lighten the process of waiting on hold by playing on-hold music and allowing you to insert announcements giving them information they might find useful or simply letting them know how much longer they’re expected to be on hold.
This not only keeps the caller occupied while they wait, but it also adds an additional layer of professionalism and lets the caller know you are considerate of their wait time.
Speaking of professionalism and better connecting with callers, imagine that you’re out of the office either showing a property or meeting with a client, and a call comes into the office for you while you’re out. The person in the office answering the phone tells the caller that you’re out of the office at the moment and that they’ll have to take a message and get it to you when you return.
As a realtor, every call is extremely valuable, so simply telling the caller that you’re out of the office and taking a message for you is far less than ideal.
Now imagine you have a modern VoIP phone system.
Instead of giving the caller a generic reply, the person taking the call in the office can simply look at a screen where your current status has been set by you and see that you’re with a client. They can then better inform the caller as to why you’re tied up at the moment (versus leaving them to wonder) and how much longer you might be. You can even take it a step further by setting your phone up to where you have a custom voicemail greeting depending on what your status is set to. So, for example, if you set your status as showing a home, you can have a custom voicemail that tells the caller that you’re showing a home and that you’ll likely be able to return their call within a certain amount of time.
VoIP gives real estate agents a level of communication that conveys professionalism, empathy, responsiveness, and to some people, it’s just downright impressive.
Another important factor to consider when thinking about professionalism in your communication with callers is call quality.
Many outdated phone systems tend to come with poor call quality and dropped calls. This can be extremely frustrating to callers and puts a dent in your professional image. With VoIP, call quality and reliability is a priority, so all your calls are crystal clear.
Last but not least, VoIP phone systems also allow you to have 800 numbers as well as local area code numbers. This not only gives a more professional look, but it also enables you to have a dedicated work number so you’re not giving out your personal phone number for business calls (because you will eventually want to be off the clock).
To learn more about how VoIP improves customer experience, take a look at our free guide Using Your Phone System to Create the Ultimate Customer Experience
Obviously, the world is moving in a much more mobile-centric direction, and work is no exception – especially if you’re in real estate.
Consider three things:
First, a study found that nearly a third of real estate agents spent more time working outside the office than inside the office. Roughly half of them stayed outside the office for at least an hour a day.
Second, the same study found that 60 percent of real estate agents prospect for leads every day. Nearly a third of them said they spent several hours a day finding new leads.
Third, as mentioned previously, most clients still prefer to talk on the phone, and they like to be able to communicate quickly.
Now, considering that realtors are moving in a more remote or mobile direction as a workforce, prospecting for leads is vital, and people still prefer talking on the phone, it only makes sense that smart realtors would ensure their phone system is mobile-friendly.
So, what does it look like for realtors to have a business phone system that is mobile?
Essentially, phone system mobility is the ability to place and receive calls from your mobile device as if you’re using your business phone system and business phone number. This enables you to use your phone for business tasks no matter where you are, and it’s as if you’re sitting at your desk.
This is especially helpful for realtors because every call to a realtor is extremely valuable and a lot of times calls are made directly to an agent instead of going through a receptionist. Being able to access your office line directly from your cell phone can be a huge advantage.
Not only can you stay connected in a professional capacity when out of the office, but you can also:
- Manage your work voicemail.
- Change your status and greeting message depending on what you’re doing.
- Have access to work contacts and groups.
- See who’s available back at the office (for times when you need to get keys or ask a question).
- And more…
The bottom line is with realtors being more mobile than ever before, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to make sure they’re phone system is accessible from a mobile device.
Businesses are usually looking for ways to increase profit and drive margins, but not at the expense of quality. After all, quality and brand are more important than saving a few dollars, and when it comes to things as important as your office phone system, you typically can’t afford to skimp.
However, cost is another area in which VoIP shines. VoIP phone systems are known for being budget-friendly and high-quality – two things realtors and businesspeople in every industry strive for.
One reason this is possible is simply because of improving technology. As the Internet becomes more accessible and less expensive to use, VoIP becomes more affordable as well.
Not only is the web allowing VoIP phones to connect at a lower expense, but quality standards are improving as well. Wherever there may have been quality concerns with VoIP phone systems in the past, those concerns have largely been alleviated by constantly improving technology.
The savings from switching to a modern VoIP system from a traditional phone system can be significant – sometimes as much as 45% or more depending on the situation.
Then, if you go with a phone system like Switchvox, you save even more money because Switchvox doesn’t nickel and dime for licensing fees. You get everything you need for one price instead of having to pay for each and every add-on feature you decide you need down the road.
You also have to consider all the benefits that come with a VoIP system.
For example, it’s largely a future-proof investment. It also saves IT resources because it’s easier to manage and update. VoIP for real estate agents also drives efficiency among your team, so company time is being better utilized.
When you add all this up, it usually amounts to significant savings and reduction in overhead.
And you get all of the savings while also increasing functionality, flexibility, scalability, professionalism, and ease of use.
Scalability and Flexibility
Another concern realtors often face when it comes to their phone system is whether or not it has the ability to grow or scale as their company grows.
This is a legitimate concern, especially when companies have offices in multiple locations. What happens when an agent or receptionist at one office needs to transfer a call to someone at another location? Or what if someone calls one location but actually need to speak with someone at a different location? Being that you’re all in the same company, callers and staff both have a level of expectation that communication across offices should be seamless.
However, traditional phone systems are often segmented, meaning the only way to connect with another office is to hang up and dial their number directly. Needless to say, this can be a big point of frustration both for customers and for clients.
VoIP resolves this issue for real estate agents by making it easy to connect multiple locations by consolidating their phone systems into one solution. This makes so that all team members are within the same phone system, regardless of where they’re located, which means no more cross-office phone frustration.
This enables the staff to quickly and easily transfer calls from office to office, maintaining a smooth experience for both the caller and the team.
And each office can maintain the ability to have their own call rules, hours of operation, weekend and evening hours, and call distribution. In other words, you get connectivity and unity while also maintaining uniqueness from location to location.
Not only does VoIP help with multi-site companies, but it also helps companies of all sizes keep up with constantly-evolving technology.
VoIP phone systems are typically much easier to manage and update, and you can add or remove functionality and users as needed without hassle. That high level of flexibility and scalability is what attracts smart and ambitious realtors to VoIP.
Easy to Use and Manage
Another frequent issue that companies of all sizes face, especially realtors, is phone systems that are too complicated to use and manage.
Few things are more frustrating than being in the middle of trying to get something accomplished only to find yourself being constantly tripped up by the complicated office phone. Not only that, but trying to manage, change settings, or update an outdated, complicated phone system can be a productivity killer as well.
The good news is VoIP phone systems are typically built around the idea that technology should make life easier, not more complex. That’s why systems like Switchvox offer an easy-to-use web dashboard where you can see all phone activity, make calls, transfer calls, check voicemail, and more. This gives you a familiar interface with things like drop-down menus and drag-and-drop functionality. It’s as if you’re using your phone system in much the same way as you would use a website.
VoIP systems are also much easier to manage from a technical standpoint, especially if you have multiple offices to manage. No more programming individual phones using a phone menu. Between features like an easy-to-use administration panel and automatic service pack updates, VoIP alleviates phone system management stress in a major way.
Also, if you have phone numbers that you frequently dial, like contractors, vendors, agents, or mortgage brokers, you can add those numbers into your contacts for fast, one-click dialing. And, you can group them together by category so you can easily find and access them when needed. This keeps you from having to unnecessarily look up numbers, dig through rolodexes, or sort through stacks of business cards.
If you’re ready to get a more specific quote on what a VoIP phone system would look like for your company, click here.