How We're Driving Innovation
How We're Driving Innovation
Too often, companies make it difficult to reach a person by phone. They’ll do anything to get you to find the answer yourself online. That's anathema to the way we work in this business. We know that whether customers find us through our Web site, social media, e-mail, or phone, when they have a question, they want to talk to a human—now.
There's a service called ifbyphone that makes it easy for customers to make the transition from technology to human. Using ifbyphone's Web-based portal, you can set up call tracking, call routing, outbound call automation, and a virtual call center. You know that every call leads to the potential for three sides: a purchase, a sale, and a referral. Ifbyphone technology ensures you never miss a call.
I share this information because, as individuals, we don’t always know which innovations will change the way we do business, which will drive growth in our industry, which will fulfill a true need—and which are just out to grab a piece of the real estate industry pie. That's why we're fortunate to have Second Century Ventures working within and on behalf of our industry. SCV is the strategic investment arm of the National Association of Realtors®. It plays a supporting role for entrepreneurial companies like ifbyphone, whose products, services, and technologies are likely to enhance the experience and value of conducting business in real estate.
Even if you haven't heard of SCV, you’ve likely heard of, and possibly worked with, some of the companies in its portfolio, companies such as DocuSign, the electronic signature company; Symform, a secure cloud storage solution; and Xceligent, a leading provider of commercial real estate information across the U.S.
Several of these companies—ifbyphone DocuSign, and Xceligent—are also Realtor Benefits® Program partners, which means that NAR has negotiated special deals for members. But there are other entrepreneurs whose products and services aren't yet ready to roll out to the real estate market on a large scale. For promising companies in that category, SCV recently launched a new initiative, a business accelerator program called REach™.
Through REach™, SCV will provide mentorship, education, and exposure to help these early-stage companies tailor their products, services, and technologies to our industry. Constance Freedman, NAR vice president of strategic investments and managing director of REach™, says companies can spend years trying to understand the real estate ecosystem. “The program’s goal is to help accelerate that process, saving time and money for the companies and adding value for NAR members,” she says.
I've talked often about the importance of helping our members find new business opportunities. Through SCV and REach™, that is exactly what NAR is working to do.