Digital Customer Experience in Real Estate | SHB

Digital Customer Experience in Real Estate

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By Josh Pattison

Customer experience should be at the centre of any thriving business. Technology is enabling companies to provide streamlined online experiences that makes interacting with businesses unlike it’s ever been before. Well, it should be anyway…

We look around at industries such as FinTech, with the likes of Monzo redefining the banking experience, Uber transport, AirBnB travel, and the list of companies leading the way through tech could go on. Real estate, particularly commercial real estate, on the other hand has traditionally been more of a laggard where approaches to technology and customer experience are concerned. Only now are we hearing of conversations to digitise the leasing process, which considering e-signatures have been around and legally binding for over two decades seems a little slow off the mark.

However, developments in real time technology and advanced 3D visualisation and rendering are starting to offer new approaches to digital customer experience in real estate.

British Land recently worked with Cityscape Digital, a London based consultancy to help engage stakeholders and the local community during the launch of their Canada Water development. The project involves 40 new buildings and 51,000 sqm of leisure space. Making use of real-time technology through Unreal Engine, British Land were able to showcase a 15yr development timeline and provide an interactive platform that users could engage with and virtually explore. Stakeholders could see how the project would develop before their eyes, local community members could virtually (through VR) walk the new streets and see what leisure and cultural spaces had been proposed. More than a slight improvement on the traditional 2D plans, written reports and CAD drawings previously used.

This same technology is being adopted to sell residential real estate. Buyers can walk around their future home and get a feel for the space, choose colours, patterns, furniture all before the house is finished being built. When you interact with this technology you find yourself wondering how we got by without it.

It is only a matter of time before these positive buying experiences are replicated on the commercial side of real estate. When choosing your new office why shouldn’t the same approach be available? Why should you have to visit loads of locations when you could virtually see them to create a shortlist? We’ve seen the start of this particularly in flexible office spaces such as WeWork providing virtual tours, but these interactions are not quite as immersive as they could be.

This space is going to get very exciting and as commercial property agents and landlords modernise, we will see a new wave of digital experiences sweep across the real estate sector.

At SHB we want to be a part of this movement and making sure that these leaps forward are felt by our customers. We are currently investing in new technologies to work with landlords and occupiers to help find better spaces at the right prices. We plan on matching data and trends with visualisation technology to start to bring these experiences to life.

The question is how long will it take for this buying behaviour to become the norm?
How long will it take for enough companies to adopt this technology that customers have the same buying experience wherever they go? I personally, see the future being the intersection between physical and virtual. The key with any change is to start small. An industry isn’t going to update overnight, but if we prioritise the use of this technology to pass value back to our customers, we will start to see things shift.

We specialise in advising tenants and landlords on the best real estate options for them. If you’d like to hear more about how we could help you, get in touch and one of our expert commercial surveyors will be able to assist.

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By Josh Pattison

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