When Did “We” Go From Helping Customers To Helping Ourselves?January 16, 2008
“We” as used in this post means techies involved in RE.net in Benn Rosales’ excellent recent blog post.
Are “we” just building new destinations along the portal model that are incrementally diluting real opportunities for helping REALTORs to sell properties? If the devil can be confined to the details, then its the tiniest things that make the biggest hell and at the same time make me wonder the most.
– “Me Too!” Beats Trying To Solve Real Business Problems: Let’s face it, it’s just easier to copy than develop technology that addresses a real business problem. Perhaps much of issue lies in ease with which “me too” technology is enabled by the low technical barrier to entry into web 2.0. Usually only a bit of script and a public API required to launch another real estate mashup and the most basic XML/database knowledge to write a facebook-like social feed.
– “Follow The Wave” And The Lack Of Alignment With Customer Goals: Could it be that some of the disparity between techie functionality and alignment with customer goals is driven by the echo chamber effect created by real estate bloggers blogging primarily for other bloggers? I’d argue that blogging represents the voice of the real estate agent well but doesn’t provide much guidance with respect to the wants and needs of needs of the customer – you know, the people that actually buy houses. Heck, it would not be a stretch to say that the voice of the customer is represented on hyperlocal real estate blogs about as much as the bulletin board in the local supermarket.
For example, the determination of whether maps are in or out on real estate sites has little to do with what the customer prefers (or their user behavior) and more to do with the influence of the blogger that is making the determination. Maps can be in at the beginning of 2007 and out by the beginning of 2008 (although we always thought that they were out). Worst of all, the “me toos” follow… the result of action/reaction process is wht often brings “us” even more out of alignment.
– You Get What’s Being Prioritized: A tech company’s goals and functionality roadmap can be abstracted as the company’s view and implementation of customer business problems. The ones that solve customer problems theoretically should be at the top. It represents the short list of priorities – just like measurements, you tend to get what you prioritize. Alignment can be represented in many was – if their brand is bigger than your brand, are they prioritizing helping you or themselves? Look carefully not just at what is being said but also what you are getting. What does your favorite real estate technology company talk about, are their goals aligned with your goals, and are you getting the results that are being prioritized? If not, voting with your feet is the best way to be heard…unless, of course, no one is listening.
So, we as an industry should be paying attention when a customer tells us that we are creating new processes with less value than adding value to an existing process. Until we change the value equation, we can keep building all we want but we won’t have any guarantees that anyone will come. Thoughts?