In our rapid-paced, self-serve-powered economy, countless buying and selling interactions have been boiled down to a couple taps on a phone or clicks on a screen that take all of a few seconds.
But while that might work for a new lamp or table, the homebuying process is different.
Buying a home is complex, involving stages of discovery and understanding. It’s a journey, one that involves many parties, and can’t be whittled down to a few finger taps.
Realtor.com understands that. During its 20+ years in business, their team has developed a suite of tools and features that empowers buyers and agents alike to navigate that process confidently and successfully—and they rely on Twilio to power the reliability and innovation behind those experiences.
The organization began as a traditional lead-generating platform; they’d receive requests from prospective homebuyers about a home listing on their site, and connect the consumer to an appropriate agent to facilitate further. They provided tools to those agents to help manage leads and nurture relationships, explained Neel Sisodraker, Principal Technical Product Manager at the company.
It began with phone numbers: agents were given a Twilio-generated phone number that enabled them to follow-up with leads, which then expanded to SMS, letting agents use that same phone number to text back and forth with a prospective buyer. The company set up an automatic response that let agents get back to customers immediately, regardless of their current availability.
“We’ve expanded the platform over time, first from empowering the agent to now supporting the consumer,” Sisodraker said. “We asked, ‘How do we create communication channels that make sense for the consumer, so they can choose what channel makes the most sense for them and communicate directly with their agent?’”
“Everything we do is to help the consumer progress down their path to buying a home,” he added. “Is that introducing them to an agent? A lender? Helping them with moving services? It’s a journey, and we want to be the guide helping them down the path, providing that trusted backing they can trust and expect.”
What started as simple phone numbers and then text messaging capabilities has since expanded to a comprehensive offering of tools and services that lets customers schedule a tour via text message, communicate directly with an agent via any number of channels—text, phone, in-app, and more—and receive updates via email, thanks to Twilio SendGrid. Their interaction history is saved, which prevents them from having to answer the same questions over and over again, Sisodraker said.
The company uses Twilio Programmable Voice as the backbone of its phone service, ensuring customers are able to call an agent via the same private phone number they can text them on, and giving agents that same secure, relationship-building avenue.
Agents have a dashboard of insights that pulls data from their various interactions and paints a complete picture of their ongoing relationship with a prospective homebuyer. They’re able to see a history of their conversation, initiate outreach, or connect prospects with other resources and tools as needed, all in one holistic system.
“From an agent perspective, it’s all about building those relationships,” Sisodraker explained. “We are not in the business of selling a lead over and over; we want to get them the right tools and channels they need to progress in their journey of buying a home.”
The company’s long history with Twilio has proven a powerful driver of innovation at the company, Sisodraker said. They’re exploring new channels and capabilities, including using Twilio Autopilot and Programmable Chat for answering routine, fact-based inquiries; and empowering agents and consumers to connect via video using Twilio Programmable Video, an opportunity that’s especially relevant given COVID-19.
“We’ve seen everyone become more cautious [since the onset of COVID-19],” Sisodraker said. “We’re building tools to better replicate the in-person process, but digitally. The consumer doesn’t have to leave the comfort of their home, and video is a key part we are continuing to invest in.”
It supports the company’s ongoing and core focus of being the complete, trusted resource for all-things homebuying and selling, Sisodraker said, and Twilio is their trusted partner along the way—whatever may come.
“From our perspective, we know Twilio—and we know Twilio is going to work,” he said.
From our perspective, we know Twilio—and we know Twilio is going to work.