leak 3-28-16Banking.

Insurance.

Travel.

Important, expensive purchases that involve many moving parts.

Managing money, arranging travel and lining up insurance used to require the expertise of bankers, agents and agents.

Smart online self-service has more than eliminated the jobs of tens of thousands of transaction-takers: it has changed the definition of customer service in the process.   Good service isn’t defined by the people or technology that deliver it. Good service is defined by satisfying customer expectations and fulfilling customer goals. Service with a smile isn’t really service if it’s slow, incompetent and fails.

According to a Google poll, 67.5% of Americans don’t trust real estate agents.

There’s a reason why: the traditional business model of brokers and agents works against consumers. Homeowners work hard to build home equity. Then, just when that equity is on the brink of achieving another goal – perhaps moving up to a bigger house or financing retirement – the commission drains six percent of that equity from the homeowner to the agents and brokers.

The median-priced home sold in the South In 2015 for about $184,800. That means that a six percent commission pulled $11,088 from the sale to the agents and brokers involved.

Meanwhile, 100% of househunters use online listing sites to search for houses. Consumers use online listings to sort by price, location, size and amenities, coming up with their short lists of houses they’d actually like to see. That’s a key market process that agents used to own.

Consequently, the value that agents bring to home sellers has shrunk to negotiating – a process driven by the seller anyway – and closing – which is becoming increasingly automated. And for that, the seller loses three percent of his equity – for the median house that sold for $184,800, that’s $5,544 lost.

Deep-dive research conducted by Harvard Business School faculty found that as customer service migrates online, customers are satisfied by the efficiency of the experience and by the context provided by the business. In other words, consumers expect related information to answer consumer questions. They also expect a company’s website to intuitively anticipate and address related topics,.

That’s why digital services are replacing more and more routine transactional functions – including listing and selling real estate. People add value to complex decisions, but not when a well-designed digital service can guide consumers through the process with a digital smile.  When routine functions are easily managed by consumers, consumers gain more control and professionals get to do what they do best: handle complicated situations that truly need an expert.