Ten Questions With Rian van Jaarsveld, GM of Live Online Retail

November 12, 2021
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It has become a cliché at this point, but the fact that ‘real estate transactions are the biggest financial decisions of most people’s lives’ still holds true.

It’s also true that automated chat-bots are everywhere nowadays. For Live Online Retail’s Rian Van Jaarsveld though, real estate deserves a human touch on the end of shoppers’ questions.

We spoke to the General manager of the Johannesburg-based company about his online customer service philosophy and what his firm can offer those in the world of real estate marketing...

 

What is the problem that LOR solves?

LOR is a customer engagement tool that allows businesses to connect with customers in that critical decision-making moment to close the deal or to turn an online shopper into a customer.

LOR is designed to replicate the physical world behaviours in the digital space whereby we treat online shoppers or audiences the same as real-world shoppers with a real person on the other side giving the customer great advice and service and thus creating a great online experience leaving them coming back for more.

 

What is LOR’s USP?

LOR offers your customers a rejuvenated online experience as a real sales agent can interact in real-time and give the correct and direct responses to the customers’ queries. This turns online shoppers into customers and into return customers.

We use real-time live tracking (patented in the USA and RSA) of the customer's online journey that shows the sales agent what the customer is looking at, at that very moment and for them to be prepared with the relevant sales pitch or discussion points.

 

What is LOR’s biggest challenge?

Getting people to realise that we are busy treating people differently online than in real life and that we can offer a better online experience, not with automation but with real-time experiences. 

When we look at online satisfaction data we can see that customers prefer a live chat with a real person much more than an AI Bot mainly because of the customer experience.

 

How many employees does LOR have?

Currently 5

 

How has Covid-19 changed the landscape for LOR?

We have gained customers because they realised that there still needs to be a human touch in this digital world - they still need to interact with their customers even if it is online. LOR is geared for the digital sales era.

 

What is one thing our readers might not know about but would probably find interesting about conversational commerce?

Yes, automation is great and people like to self-serve, but if you want them to have a great customer experience and you want them to feel great about the interaction, then add the human touch - it's going to be a valuable commodity in the future of online commerce.

My test is always if I take this automated process and make it a living person would that behavior be acceptable as a service offering - if the answer is no then don't do it in the digital world.

 

What benefits are there for a property portal in working with LOR?

Give your audience or customers another avenue of connecting - you can disrupt the future selling trend in the property sector.

We are creating listings with digital tools to make the experience more lifelike. Why not add a real live chat function that shows you the customer’s journey and starts the sales conversation at that very spot - cut down on the lead to sale period.

 

What is LOR currently working on?

We’re always at building in more features that will make the online sales journey even better, more streamlined and personal, and yes even Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation.

We recently started working with one of the major banks in South Africa where they have now joined the vehicle platform space and they use LOR to motivate the movement to a digital transaction.

 

What is the most common request from clients?

They want to start the journey with an AI bot. That goes against my digital religion! If you were to take the process to the real world you would never start it with a robot and you would never ask for personal details upfront before a customer walks through the shop door. Why do it online?

But we cannot deny that in the future these technologies will be better and we need to look at bringing that into our offering.

 

How do you see the market evolving and what will you be doing to be ahead of the curve?

The way people shop and transact will change as the younger generations lead that movement having experienced the global lockdown. 

Then Automation will become key. Bots will evolve as AI gets better so we will have to be ready for that evolution and find a way of working together with these technologies. Selling and buying in the not too distant future will look different from today because of the behavioral changes of the generations.

As mentioned before we are looking at RPA and ML developments so that we can look at benefiting from real AI and features that make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect in the online space.

 

November 12, 2021
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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