More on CRM data ownership in a web 2.0 world

Feb 22, 2009 Michael Wurzer

A few days ago, I commented about the uproar and retraction following Facebook’s attempt to clarify their terms of service so users would know what they post for others is no longer necessarily theirs.  (Kristen Carr also has a post on the Facebook terms of service issues over at her new blog for Bridge Interactive.)  I followed my earlier comment on the Facebook terms of service with a post asking whether CRM data is the broker’s or agent’s in the context of real estate.

It’s pretty clear from that post and the comments that followed that the contract between the broker and agent answers the question.  I’ve never seen such a contract, however, and I’m wondering if they’d address some of the issues presented by consumer interactions allowed by current MLS, IDX and CRM systems.  For example, imagine the following scenario:

  • Broker Bob has a web site with IDX on which Cindy Consumer creates an account.
  • Broker Bob assigns Cindy’s account to Andrea Agent to answer Cindy’s questions.
  • Cindy creates a bunch of saved searches of her own.
  • Andrea recommends some listings to Cindy.
  • They exchange several messages on a variety of listings.
  • They go look at a few listings, make notes in the system, and send feedback to the listing agents.
  • Andrea then leaves Broker Bob and goes to Broker Dan.

Here are some of the questions:

  • Does Consumer Cindy want to continue her relationship with Andrea Agent even though she’s now with Broker Dan?
  • What if Broker Dan’s web site is different and doesn’t allow for the same saved searches, recommendations, etc.?
  • What if Broker Bob assigns a new agent to work with Cindy?
  • Who owns Cindy’s saved searches and messages and favorites?
  • How about the feedback on the listings?  Does the seller have a right to see that feedback?

It seems to me that, as before, the answer to these issues depends on the contracts involved, so what do yor contracts say on some of these issues?  Do they address them at all?  Is it important to address these issues?