What UK property professionals can learn from the Nordics

Ville Risannen

With a whole raft of digital advances not only creeping in to UK industry but actually permeating through the very core of business processes, Ville Rissanen, CEO of Finnish tech company giosg, argues that it’s not the technology that holds companies back, it’s their reluctance to be first movers, the rate of adoption.

Live chat, AI, machine learning, blockchain, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things. All offer enriched customer experience and afford UK businesses a gateway into a buyer’s mindset.

For estate agents, we have seen tech escalate in the Nordics to the point where virtual network models have evolved in real time and online. But in the UK, while London in particular boasts one of the best tech scenes in Europe, the rate of adoption can act as a blocker to advancement.

In the Nordics, advanced products such as AI online visitor targeting are being embraced across every industry, whilst here there are still some sectors lagging behind in their adoption, and we are merely seeing toes being dipped into some of the more basic online engagement features.

So what can the UK learn from the Nordics?

Speaking about the property sector specifically, in Finland, we have been very successful at creating a network business model for our estate agent clients. In practical terms, this means we’ve created networks of affiliate services, so for instance, an online house hunter gets a live chat window offering mortgage services from a bank or van services from a moving company.

This not only eases the house hunting process and improves the customer journey, it also increases traffic for the different service providers and lets companies benefit from each other’s client bases. We haven’t seen this be done, successfully or otherwise, here in the UK yet.

More generally, the Nordics understand how to operationalise available tech. Digital hasn’t come as a defined department or single initiative; it has permeated through the very core of processes.

Here, whilst the concepts are everywhere, and decision-makers are very aware of them and their importance, there still appears a lot to be done to put all this new technology into core business operations.

We have been working on applying tech to improve online engagement for quite a while. We’ve witnessed smaller brands bring tech into their basic customer service operations, as well as companies with a larger volume of traffic start to generate leads by using AI to predict user behaviour.

Top tips to achieving technical excellence

Right now, online interactions are too scattered and journeys not seamless enough, so companies must have clear business goals to implement technology efficiently and successfully –

My three top tips, are:

  1. Capitalise on your website visitors – you’ve done the hard bit, people are already there so get the right online engagement tools to keep them there to convert them. We still see way too often, estate agents’ sites where the only way to get a valuation is by filling in a static form or calling during their opening hours.
  2. Network – every industry has a lot to gain from connecting related services. If brands are more open to having complementary services on their sites, it’s easier for the customer, and a gain for both brands.
  3. Figure out how developments can work for you – every industry is being disrupted, but don’t just set up a digital team because you feel like you have to.

The modern-day customer is hyper-connected and spoiled for choice. A great customer experience is no longer a “nice-to-have” but a powerful tool to stand out in a difficult playing field.

The way to succeed is to offer the most efficient, seamless customer journey. So figuring out how to use tech and how to best equip your teams to deliver that will be key in the years to come.

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