Why I require my site visitors to registerPosted by Jolenta Averill, Broker on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 at 10:48am.
Today I received an interesting email from a visitor to my website who had just registered. I had tried to call her which, as you may know, is something I do with every person who registers on my website. I like to personally thank each and every person who registers on my site for their visit and see how the site is working for them. I get terrific feedback from people this way, have interesting and enjoyable conversations with people about what's prompting their home search, and in general learn a great deal about what people are looking for in the way of real estate. In fact I find that many of the choices people are making when it comes to real estate are linked to lifestyle choices (living on the lake, walking the kids to school, downtown Madison condos, etc) and as you may know, our motto at Lake & City Homes Realty is "Homes that fit your lifestyle." I really find that aspect of real estate to be fascinating. It gives me great insight into what's driving people's decisions and therefore what type of home is going to be appealing to them. Anyway, back to what happens when I call visitors who register on my site. Sometimes when I call people they need help setting up a Saved Search or saving a property to their Favorites folder. While some are a year or more away from making a move, others have immediate questions about a property or want to schedule a showing right away. Just yesterday someone needed to see a property in two hours (before the sun went down because the home had been winterized and there was no electricity). But this morning was different. The woman who had registered on my site did so with an invalid phone number. So I tried to email her to establish contact and see how I could help. This is a portion of the email reply that I received. "It is unfortunate that you require people to provide their personal information in order to browse home listings." So I explained to her - and I want to explain to everyone else out there - why I require site registration. But first I want to point out that this is the first person in 11 months (and two days, to be exact!) since I launched my website who has given me negative feedback about registering. I'm not so arrogant (or naive) to believe that there aren't others who haven't thought the same thing, however. In fact, I'm the first to admit I don't like registering on websites. But I have my reasons for running my website this way and would like to take this opportunity to explain.
Requiring people to register on my website in order to browse property details (not property listings, as the site visitor incorrectly stated) is a business choice that I made only after a great deal of consideration. I weighed the pros and cons extensively and tried both methods for several months before committing to the current model. It all boils down to this: the reason I require registration is in order to provide exceptional service to people trying to accomplish their real estate goals. Providing exceptional service requires a great deal of personal attention and follow-up which I’m unable to do if I can’t contact the person by phone and/or email. Moreover, an important part of the service is receiving listings (ie property alerts) by email. Clearly it isn't possible to receive email alerts without a valid email address.
That being said, I respect people's privacy. If you do not wish to be contacted by phone or receive email alerts, that is your choice and your right. In this case the person was not really looking to buy (they just wanted to know more about Middleton Hills after reading an article about it) which is really pretty atypical of the site visitors I'm accustomed to. In other words, most of my site visitors are actually on the site to use the tools we've made available to locate real estate for sale or to find out more about listing their home with Lake & City Homes. For the occasional visitor who isn't seriously looking they are of course still welcome to use our site anytime. I do, however, require valid contact details (name, phone number, and email address) and some sort of response when I ask how I can help. Without that, a great deal of time gets wasted trying to follow up with people who don't respond. That just takes time and energy away from clients who are actively working with us.
Real estate is an industry and a subject I'm incredibly passionate about. I take a great deal of pride in running my own brokerage and providing an uncommonly high level of service. I don't enjoy registering on websites any more than the next person but when the tools are as good as the ones we've scoured the globe to provide, and the service is a reward unto itself, I have every confidence in the world it is worth consumers' effort to register. And while we avoid resting on our laurels and continuously strive to improve our site, we hope that your own personal experience with Lake & City Homes and LakeandCityHomes.com backs that statement up. Either way, please let us know!
Do you have a viewpoint about forced registration? Please post your comments on our blog. How do you feel about registering on our site? Do you think the tools and service merit it? How could we improve your experience?
For more information about working with an experienced, dedicated Realtor on your next Madison real estate project, please call Lake & City Homes Realty broker|owner Jolenta Averill at 608.628.9701.
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Jolenta Averill, Principal
Lake & City Homes Realty