Today, there is NO reason to make your potential new Association member or MLS subscriber use a paper-based application they have to print out, fill out and then fax back, or worse yet, make a potential new customer drop off their application at your office anymore. COVID-19 has changed all of our beliefs about what can be accomplished online and online applications are no exception.
When I look at an Association that still has a paper-based application, it makes me think the organization is not as progressive or customer-centric as they could be. And in practical terms, why would you make it HARDER for someone to join your organization and increase your revenues? Don’t we want to completely eliminate any friction to make it easier for potential new customers to become REALTORS®? We need as many people in the REALTOR® family as we can to strengthen our collective advocacy voice.
Laura Crowther, CEO of Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS®, describes the efficiency and customer satisfaction that can be generated from an online application process.
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Just like agents with a new client, associations and MLSs only have one shot to make a great first impression. If a potential new member comes to your website and realizes they have to print out a membership application and then fax it in (who uses fax anymore) or worse yet, makes you drive to the office, what kind of first impression does that make, especially during a pandemic? Leading Associations and MLSs have gotten away from that outdated process and moved to simple, intuitive online membership applications.
Frictionless Online Application
MMSI, the real estate industry’s most customer-centric Association Management System (AMS) vendor, has launched a frictionless online application that makes onboarding new members infinitely easier. Laura Crowther, CEO of the Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS (CCAR), appreciates that the online process eliminates piles of paperwork, saving time for both the organization and its members-in-the-making. She said it’s been extremely helpful the past year when many of the typical in-person meetings with new members have gone virtual. Thanks to MMSI, the CCAR membership department was able to set up a system of working alternate days in the office, making it easier to manage both in-person and virtual appointments with new members.
Speeds up Application Processing
“Regardless of the type of appointment, everything goes through the online application process, which streamlines it so much for us. In January we had 107 new members which is significantly higher than we normally experience. The online application process sent us a notification when a new application was pending. That really, really helped us expedite the process because we knew in advance that an application was in the works,” Crowther explained. “The information was there; we could look through and see if there were things that the applicant needed to bring or to add that would speed up the application process for the member, while helping us get 107 new members on board in a fairly short window of time.”
Improves Application Accuracy
She finds the online application process more accurate as well. “For us, it was eliminating a duplicate process where folks were filling (paper) out, then having us transcribe that. It really eliminated an extra step for staff, as well as potential for error,” Crowther said.Saves Members’ Time
“You always have to look at things through the members’ eyes and what’s going to benefit them the most, and how they are going to perceive that benefit. They do expect things to work seamlessly, and this is just another step in that direction.”
Is making the move from paper-based to online membership applications worth it? “Absolutely,” Crowther said. “It saves time, it saves your members’ time, and it also makes you look like a far more professional organization.”
Crowther noted that an open dialog with the MMSI team has been immensely helpful in making the move to an online application process. “It always helped me to have a very honest dialogue, and MMSI is incredibly receptive to that. They hear us, we hear them and it’s great. To make the process seamless, we made sure that we take the time to think through the entire application and onboarding process and set reasonable expectations. Overhauling the onboarding process took careful planning but it was definitely time well-spent.”
Superior Customer Service
Laura likes working with MMSI. “I really appreciate MMSI’s openness to suggestions and wish lists. They are regularly seeking our input on how to improve our ability to educate and engage our members using our MMSI platform.”
“Our Association has been working with MMSI for 16 years. What I’ve always enjoyed about MMSI is that they are a family-owned company; they’re responsive,” Crowther said, noting that it’s easy to connect with anyone on the MMSI team with a simple phone call or text. “Real estate is a relationship business. It’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and know that you’re calling to get Mark, Rich, Nancy, Susan or whomever…It’s a totally different level.”
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