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Blog: Human Connection in a Digital World

Suze Cumming

Suze is passionate about our natural world and anything that propels her into the wilderness and allows her to stretch her limits is game on...

Suze is passionate about our natural world and anything that propels her into the wilderness and allows her to stretch her limits is game on...

Mar 7 5 minutes read

Human Connection in a Digital World

Real Estate agents who are excellent at what they do will survive the impending tech tsunami because of the value of human connection.  

When I visit a website and a chat box pops up asking me if they can help me I feel conflicted.  I want this to be a real person but I know it will be a bot.   Often my question can actually be answered by a bot, but not always; and regardless, it that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to talk to a human.

We need to understand why and when people prefer to engage on a human level if we’re going to stay relevant in a world with continuously developing technology.  

Imagine this scenario:

A homeowner is considering a move somewhere in the near future and lands on a REALTORS® website.   They are unsure of the lifestyle compromises involved in living in different condominiums in their community. A chat box jumps up asking them if they can help and they type in that they are looking for information about condominiums.   A bot would make assumptions about what information they were looking for, while a human would dig deeper and learn that they have mobility issues and only certain buildings are possibilities and that they have a small dog that is their best friend, and that their children live in the west end of the city.  A human connection is required to both surface these needs and to help manage the complicated decision process.

Or this one:

A young man is thinking of buying a property with two units in it so that he can rent one out to help with the mortgage and live in the other one.  He has been searching for anything with two kitchens but can’t get any sense of how the units are laid out from the listings.  In addition, he is going to have trouble financing the purchase because of the new stress test and the complication of the legal status of any apartments.  Ultimately, he is going to need to make some uncomfortable compromises around location and financing.   Having a trusted advisor at this time will be key in his ability to make these important decisions.  A bot would just look at the variables, say it wasn’t possible, and suggest a solution that had nothing to do with this particular buyer – the same suggestion it would give to anybody in the same situation.

The key element in these stories is this: If you do what the bot would do, a bot may as well be doing it. If you make assumptions about what a buyer is looking for or suggest a one size fits all solution that isn’t motivated by what you’ve learned about them, you aren’t going to be anywhere nearly as valuable as you could be. Let tech do what tech does best, and focus on the reasons people still chose to engage with you: your humanity.

There are a multitude of reasons that people will choose human connection over tech connection.

  • We like engaging with other people, it’s social, it’s entertaining, and human connection makes us feel good. (I suspect most of you successful realtors are excellent at this)
  • Working with another human shares the burden of uncertainty. If we’re going into a situation confused, unsure what our problems or questions even are, or without a reference point of what to expect, a professional human will be able to understand that chaos and untangle some of the uncertainty for us through empathy, asking the right questions, and working together to untangle the uncertainty.
  •  We can trust people in a totally different way than we can trust technology. Technology can be trusted to work as it’s supposed to. People can also be trusted for this (we hope),but can also be trusted to put our best interests first, to be creative about finding solutions, to hear us out in a way that makes our problems feel justified and solvable rather than isolating and impossible. These deeper level of trust, the heart trust rather than head trust, means clients can dig deeper into what they want, what’s important to them, and what they need in the housing market.
  • The list goes on – what do you see as the most valuable work we can do that a computer can’t?

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