At the end of this year, Ty Voyles with the Washington Capitol Hill (D.C.) market center will have spent nearly $40,000 on subscription fees for his customer relationship management (CRM) software. And while it’s helping him connect with prospects, nurture leads and analyze metrics, several roadblocks are preventing his team of 23 from experiencing the full benefits of the technology.
Poor user experience
“Across the board, CRMs aren’t user friendly and don’t do full lifecycle management and feature delivery. Or, they offer full lifecycle management and feature delivery, but aren’t user friendly and intuitive. Ours does what we need it to do, but it’s not intuitive – it’s cumbersome,” he shares.
A poor user experience can make implementation a nightmare, which is something all businesses struggle with.
“You can move widgets around, but you can’t change how they look and feel. It takes a lot of clicks to get from one place to another.”
Gaps in integration
With application programming interfaces (APIs), users are able to embed software capabilities of other platforms within their CRMs. Yet, despite significant steps forward, CRM APIs are lacking.
“With our CRM, there are some APIs, like Mailchimp, which we use for our email newsletters and campaigns,” says Voyles. “But our marketing director still has to go in and create 23 different email campaigns for our emails to be sent to ‘client’ from ‘Fulcrum Properties’. You shouldn’t have to do that.”
For Voyles to experience the integration he desires, his out-of-pocket costs would increase dramatically.
“For example, to get an integrated caller with my CRM, I would have to buy a separate service from a dialer. My monthly costs would double.”
The alternative places him at a dead end.
“I could also export my contact list from my CRM and drop it into my dialer, but then I can’t keep notes in real time in my CRM, because I’m in another software program.”
Voyles is not ready to take on the costs at this time.
“I pay $80 per user per month. Our team is looking at a bill of $3,000 per month for our CRM alone.”
He is not alone.
According to a recent report by Capterra, businesses pay an average of $150 per month per user for their CRM subscription and shouldn’t expect decreases any time soon. It all comes down to monetary motivation, explains Adi Pavlovic, director of innovation at KWRI.
“The challenge CRM companies have is that they are motivated by maximizing revenue from their user base. They’re motivated to build as many business-critical tools as possible so that you stay and so they can charge more.”
Pavlovic continues, “This model comes at a price. This doesn’t really align with an agent’s goals as they want to keep their expenses down meanwhile growing their business. What most agents find themselves doing is either managing a handful of tools that meet their needs or constantly switching between CRMs trying to find what works best for them at a reasonable cost.”
This has led to a market saturated with CRM companies.
“Since each agent manages their business uniquely, it’s hard to find an out-of-the-box solution that will solve their business problems at an affordable price.”
A data war
Beyond poor user experience, integration gaps, and increasing costs lies a more concerning issue – data ownership.
Technology companies are flooding into the real estate space with a mission to turn agent data into meaningful insights that power their technology solutions. Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams, warns against the long term use of off-the-shelf CRMs, transaction management systems and AVMs.
“They are no longer asking for you to introduce their products to your customers. They’re now buying the tools you're using and they’re taking your data without your permission.”
Essentially, by using off-the-shelf CRMs, agents are giving up precious data that is powering the technology of their competitors.
“The one with the most insights wins. And the one with the most data will have the most insights. Let someone else have your data and soon they’ll know more than you do.”
Instead of standing idly by or opting to build a run-of-the-mill CRM, Keller Williams is owning its technology roadmap and building KWCommand – the agent operating system of the future. With over 180,000 associates as technology partners, the company is uniquely positioned to solve the issues of the modern-day CRM where competitors cannot. KWCommand will also address needs a typical CRM does not, including transaction management, workflow systems, goal tracking, and more.
Through Keller William’s Labs process, agents are designing and developing KWCommand piece by piece with technologists.
“Every key component and feature within KWCommand is built based on agent feedback in Labs. That allows us to be in a position where prioritization is driven by the users, not the bottom line,” says Pavlovic. “Our goal is to be a partner to our agents and implement what they want and need into KWCommand and execute at the level of a world-class technology company.”
Voyles, an active participant in KWCommand Labs, finds the experience to be extremely rewarding.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in any career in 20 years. We’re moving incredibly fast and the results are tangible. I am watching the product evolve on the timeline I’ve asked for and can see the impact it will have on my bottom line beginning next year.”
What you can do today
If you’re using eEdge, keep going! The easiest and fastest way to transition to KWCommand when it moves to general availability will be to have been using this system. Until then, follow Latest in Labs (via email and KWConnect Live) to track the progress of KWCommand.
You can also join the Labs Community on KWConnect to participate in Micro Labs and get early access products as they move through the Labs process.