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"Live Assistance for Customers on the Web"

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J.D. Kathuria Photo
2/5/99 Interview with J.D. Kathuria

14102 Sullyfield Circle, Suite 350
Chantilly, VA 20151

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How Live Assistance Works

  1. The main purpose of the service is to capture leads via real time human interaction; an online customer at a Real Estate site can click a button to initiate a one-on-one text chat with a Live Assistance operator 24-hours a day.
  2. Information about a listing, about how to contact the Realtor or any other information about buying or selling a home or buying or leasing a commercial property can readily be relayed to the customer.
  3. The name is about to change from Live Response to Live Assistance, and upgrades such as push technology are being added.
  4. With push technology, the operator can push a web page to the online customer without the customer having to do anything.
The Appeal of Live Assistance

  1. Human interaction on a relatively static web page meets the advice of cybermasters to have something happening/moving/changing on your site.
  2. The human touch also appeals to the nature of people to want to communicate as illustrated by the tremendous success of chat rooms.
The Process

  1. The service is platform independent (nothing has to be downloaded for the customer to initiate a chat), and it works on any web browser.
  2. Activation of the service on a client's web site requires cutting and pasting only three or four lines of code.
  3. As a Live Assistance client, you complete an online knowledge base to identify basic contact information, frequently asked questions and answers that you expect from online customers, and your goals and expectations in having the service.
  4. In responding to online questions, the operator can cut and paste right from the material you have provided; a complete transcript of every chat is immediately delivered to your email mailbox and also archived in a password-protected area on the Internet for your retrieval.
Application for Realtors

  1. Live Assistance is an answering service for web pages - besides giving immediate basic information, the operator gets visitors' contact information so that you can follow up.
  2. You can change the knowledge base anytime online; operators have new listings or any other updated information as soon as you provide it.
  3. With the new push technology, the operator can take your customer directly to a relevant section of your site while the chat continues.4. You may opt to answer chats personally; a person who is closer to your daily operations than the remote operator may handle cut and paste answers, customize responses and follow up more easily.5. An alternative is to answer personally part of the day and then change to link so that Live Assistance takes over; the use of Live Assistance is transparent to your web site visitor.
Caution on Email Capture Services

  1. Technology exists to capture the email address of someone who visits your web site, but many browsers alert the visitor to what is happening.
  2. Taking email addresses without people's knowledge and permission risks their anger and can potentially generate a backlash against your web site.
More to Come with Live Assistance

  1. The next upgrade can be set to require people entering the chat to complete some information first as a screen if you choose to set it up that way.
  2. Other technologies such as Instant call-back will be integrated with Live Assistance in the future to make the overall experience of someone coming onto a Real Estate site more user friendly and time efficient.
Internet Impact on the Industry's Future

  1. As more Realtors get on the Internet, online consumers will have more choices; success will depend on having an effective site.
  2. Key points for a strong site include: avoiding too much fluff; promoting your site on all your literature; picking a professional domain name; keeping loading time to a minimum.
  3. Real Estate will become a 24-hour/7-day business; quick response to email inquiries will determine who captures that business.
  4. E-commerce is emerging as a significant marketplace; the rise of retail business on the Net foreshadows what will be happening in Real Estate.
  5. As more customers do preliminary cyber research, unless you promote what is special about yourself, you will limit your universe of business.
  6. Pace your use of technology to the general population; don't incorporate sophisticated elements that could confuse and frustrate potential clients; e.g., the extended down-loading time currently required for some virtual tours may cause viewers to lose patience.
  7. Incorporating virtual tours and lots of effective photos into listing presentations may help you close more deals; the human element will remain important in buying and selling Real Estate.
Profitable Online Marketing Strategies

  1. Let your online customer set parameters for properties that interest him and then send him immediate email notification of new listings.
  2. Offer free reports on buying or selling a home for the first time to ease people into the process; offer to give them more information.
  3. Clearly define your market niche - distinguish yourself from all other Realtors in your marketplace.
Sites and Tools for Professional Development

  1. Good sites exist that focus on Real Estate and others that focus on technology - utilize both; for Real Estate news, try and; good sites on technology include
  2. Barbara Ling's site [see Alert issue 9812] contains good information on using the Internet effectively.
  3. Favorite software includes the email software program Calypso, which has a tool for handling multiple email addresses, and the database management program ACT!.
  4. PalmPilot shows promise as a means of keeping daily appointments straight.
  5. An effective way to become more technically savvy is to tune into success stories of other Realtors when attending professional conferences.
  6. Be open to what is new and willing to adapt to changes in the industry; take on one new product or program at a time and learn to use it well.Check out Live Assistance via the icon at the bottom of the main page of the Society's web site and/or the Live Assistance booth (#108) on the Online Expo section. There is a special offer for Society members.
Contact Information for J.D. Kathuria:

(v) 703-488-3981
(f) 703-817-1314

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Real Estate News sources:

Barbara Ling's site
Calypso email software
ACT! contact manager