Property portals will need to become better at personalising the customer experience via machine learning if they really want to stay ahead of the game, says online real estate executive Georg Chmiel.
As the former CEO of Asia’s iProperty Group and someone who sits on the board of Mitula, it’s safe to say Chmiel knows a thing or two about property portals. But it’s his recent experience outside the sector that has given him a fresh perspective on how the real estate industry can learn from other businesses.
A guest speaker at the Global Online Classifieds Summit in Miami this June, Chmiel will discuss machine learning and artificial intelligence by drawing on his experience at portal iCar Asia, where he’s a non-executive board director, in addition to his experience as the CFO of movie streaming network, iflix.
Chmiel says one of the predominant attributes missing from online property sites at the moment is the ability to intelligently interact and to really interpret what consumers are feeling and use those emotional cues to make a smarter product.
Using customer feedback to drive growth
“We’re using machine learning at iflix, and here the determining factor for feedback is that there’s live interaction,” he says of the immediacy that exists when consumers watch a movie and go on an emotional journey.
What’s missing from property portals, in Chmiel’s opinion, is a natural bilateral feedback system where users can articulate their emotions in a similar way to their engagement on social media.
“Simple example – with Facebook status updates you can say ‘we like it, we hate it, we love it, et cetera’, but that’s not happening in the portal space to the same extent; you’re able to say that you like a property and you may follow that property, you might even comment on a property, but that’s where it often ends,” he says.
“With messenger applications such as WeChat and We-Capture, we express emotions in how we say things. If you were actually able to say that you didn’t like a house because of a particular reason, then the machine could actually factor that in and suggest properties which incorporate that.”
“At iCarAsia, we have apps which connect the dealers and the purchasers of cars and we’re now using bots to help the dealers be more effective.”
Although property portals are advancing, technologically speaking – iProperty was the first portal to launch a self learning chatbot called Rebecca in Asia last year – Chmiel says their progress can be stunted if the person running the portal has no prior experience in the sector.
“The aim of disruption is not to apply the latest technology and destroy something, it’s very clearly to make things easier for people; and, if you don’t know what happens in real estate and if you don’t feel passionate about it, it’s really hard.”