By Scott Bozinis, CEO, InfoTrack
Technology has advanced at an extraordinary pace over the last decade. This evolving landscape has laid the foundations for disrupters to emerge in a variety of sectors to challenge and change the traditional customer experience forever – think Uber and AirBnB. In a world where digital technologies empower consumers to have their needs and wants catered to instantly, it’s fair to say the property industry has been fairly slow to adapt in comparison with sectors such as automotive, retail and other consumer services.
While it’s true consumers can search for properties online, many of the legal processes behind moving house are still largely paper-based and protracted – the conveyancing process, for instance, is estimated to take around 81 days to complete. The importance of modernising these processes is not lost in the legal industry. Findings from Altman Weil show 94% of law firm leaders think a focus on improved practice efficiencies is a permanent trend in the market, yet only 49% have significantly changed their approach to efficiency.
The importance of efficiency is validated by consumers. Findings from a recent survey show 58% of consumers are frustrated with the length of time taken to complete the home moving process. The study also found consumers are turning to digital channels to overcome a lengthy moving process. Over half of home movers in the last year (52%) requested a quote using email or websites – a significant increase on the 33% who used online channels to obtain a quote three years ago.
As technology continues to mould expectations of convenience, the conveyancing sector will need to adapt and streamline its processes in line with the evolving property market. This starts with building internal awareness of the necessity of technology and ends with establishing a service that not only caters to the culture of immediacy, but continues to adapt alongside the changing needs of the market.
In reaching this goal, the first step for conveyancers should be an internal audit of processes, which maps technology and capabilities alongside the demands of the modern property industry. This stage isn’t necessarily about becoming more tech-savvy, it’s about changing attitudes within organisations. It’s about fostering a culture of bravery, which is not only more aware of the demands of the digital era, but is also more willing to take risks and change processes in order to meet these requirements.
In adapting to evolving demands, conveyancers should begin to place their clients at the centre of their processes. With this in mind, introducing new technological capabilities should be preceded by a number of key questions to encourage meaningful change. How will this technology add value to the end customer? Is it relevant to staff, clients, and customers? Will it reduce costs, improve quality of service, or provide a set of functions that did not exist before? By being both open and critical to technology, conveyancers can avoid modernisation becoming an exercise in ticking boxes, and ensure that technology is implemented in a way that adds value on both sides of the process.
The value of technology is not solely in its provision of greater efficiency. Technology gives conveyancers and their clients the ability to reach consumers on their terms – to provide information quickly and in the preferred format. It gives conveyancers the power of relevance, which better places them to anticipate how the needs of clients and the end consumer will change over time.
As Altman Weil found in their study, at present, there is an atmosphere of tentativeness in the industry, in which conveyancers are waiting for their peers to make the first move. But while technological innovation may resemble a risk, it also represents opportunity in equal measure. As the property industry edges towards its digital tipping point, conveyancers should be working towards integrating technology to the benefit of their clients, or risk losing out to a competitor.