Change: A Love / Hate Relationship.
Despite how much technology advancements have improved the overall experience of tech-related change, our resistance and subsequent sensitivity to it still exists. Perhaps we’re just creatures of habit and resistance is a natural part of the human condition, but let’s face it, we get cranky when people change things. Especially when we didn’t ask for it. It also seems that the more “core” the product is to the daily routine, the more change is an issue. Take for example switching mobile platforms from iOS/iPhone to Android. Not fun. Or a level down from that, what about unexpected app enhancements after your mobile phone installs an update? I call those app jump-scares. Follow me: it’s 7am and you’re at Starbucks with 12 zombie-eyed, impatient, caffeine-starved people behind you. You fumble for your phone, open the app and… the payment icon isn’t where it was yesterday on your Starbucks app. In that specific and uncaffeinated moment, that unexpected little “enhancement” is unwelcome. Even if it ends up being an awesome change, the fact that you didn’t expect it and stumbled to find it is just… irritating. You feel me now? Love that improvements are made, hate change (and hate the jump-scare type changes even more).
Ok, all contrasting jokes aside, the reality is that change in the technology space is constant and managing it is an ongoing challenge. As a provider of core MLS technology to 240,000+ real estate professionals, it was/is necessary to go beyond simply embracing it. It’s our job to deeply understand and figure out the most effective ways to manage it: both internally and externally, at both the platform and feature level.
Real estate professionals have their hands full, juggling a variety of time-sensitive and detailed priorities. Even seemingly “small” but unexpected feature enhancements or user interface changes to core technology can create chaos for them, resulting in dissatisfaction and flared tempers. But when an MLS makes the decision to replace their entire MLS technology platform? As they say in North Dakota, Uuuuuff-da. Indescribable pain. Even when the end-game is far superior technology and a better tool-set, the benefits are secondary to the pain of the change.
First, MLSs know and respect this. They approach technology platform changes cautiously and seriously; they need a compelling reason to take the leap. And the process by which that decision is made is long, detailed, and responsible.
Next, we (FBS) know and respect this. During the last 3+ decades, I’d like to think we’ve done a pretty good job providing that compelling reason to change via our Flexmls Platform and then following through with unmatched conversion training, personal support, and service. Through that, we’ve earned 154 MLS clients representing 240,000+ subscribers (and retained almost every client we’ve converted). But could we do more?
What We’ve Learned.
Through the years, we’ve been able to experience many conversions and can say without a doubt, MLSs that engage with members about the upcoming conversion to Flexmls prior to the conversion time-frame tend to have more positive conversion experiences. With this kind of well-timed, longer tail communication plan, members have multiple opportunities to become aware of the pending change, mentally prepare, and ask questions. Ultimately, stress and anxiety are minimized and there are fewer surprises. They become more engaged with the change. They learn why their MLS chose this new technology provider and what it means to them. They get to hear from peers across the country about how the change was a positive one for them. Heck, they may even get excited! All of this happens before the change is upon them. Inherently, that lends itself to more positive engagement in the overall system conversion, training, and transition from the old software to the Flexmls Platform. And they’re more forthcoming with constructive feedback that improves the system for all. Seriously, everyone wins.
It all sounds good, but how many MLSs have a full-stack, professional marketing team with experienced designers, writers, videographers, and communication managers at the ready to deliver this kind of campaign? Not many. Any? Suffice it to say, there’s a gap.
A New Solution.
Recognizing both the need and the gap, we’re introducing a new solution at FBS. From this point forward, pre-conversion marketing services will be included for MLSs converting to the Flexmls Platform. That means, in the gap between contract execution and the start of the MLS system conversion activity, we will support the MLSs as a marketing agency in the following way:
1) Engage in a discovery call with MLS leadership (or their marketing staff) to understand their communication goals around announcing the platform change to the industry and members. In cases where there are no goals, we’ll use our deep experience to help create goals that are relevant to their organization.
2) Collaborate to build a strong pre-conversion member and industry communication plan.
3) Provide a suite of marketing communication services in the form of professional marketing communication content and related collateral (videos, .pdfs, email templates, etc.) to support their efforts and help facilitate the plan.
Yes, this is absolutely more work for us. But this is the right work. It’s the kind of work that makes a palpable difference in outcome for our MLS client-partners, minimizing their stress levels and subsequently elevating the member experience. It’s the kind of work that helps real estate professionals ramp up quickly with less anxiety, getting back to the business of selling homes, faster. And quite frankly, it’s the kind of work that makes FBS a true business partner.
I’m super excited to work with MLSs making the transition to Flexmls in 2019 (and beyond), kicking off their journey with FBS, fully vested in success… from day one.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Until next time, be well,
Quick P.S.: I’ll definitely share the results of this important initiative on the blog as we start to bring new campaigns to fruition.