AI and the human touch

April 2, 2024

AI. Two letters that were barely on the lips of most people a couple of years ago, let alone in the pre-Covid period (remember those times?).

Yet now these two letters, and the many programs it has spawned, are fast becoming part of the common vernacular. 

The possibilities it offers to the real estate sector are exciting. 

AI is already reducing data abstraction time and providing useful audit trails. It can analyse vast amounts of data to extract trends for more accurate and effective valuations. 

AI can be used to provide predictive maintenance by interrogating sensor data from properties. This should be of benefit to both landlords and tenants. 

AI enabled sensors will also be part of the climate crisis solution, powering energy saving technology in homes. A note of caution – one recent report stated that an entry on ChatGPT requires 8 times more energy than a standard Google search. 

And, at the sales end of the process, ChatGPT can articulate marketing messages in just one click – although it underlines the freedom of a tight brief, meaning that the quality of the copy is only as good as the instructions it is given. 

But this new era of technology also throws into sharp relief the power of the human touch. Until Ray Kurzweil’s prediction (‘The Singularity is Near, 2005) comes true that, by 2045, humans will merge with the AI they’ve created, exemplary customer service will reign supreme as a point of competitive differentiation. 

This was evidenced in a seminal research study, ‘Emotional Journeys’, we completed in 2021 on behalf of one of our clients. 

As the title suggests, it explores the rollercoaster of emotions a house buyer typically experiences over the search and purchasing process. Several contrasting insights emerged. For example, AI is already transforming the mechanics of the process. Yet, nothing can yet replace the reassuring tones of an engaged and empathetic customer services representative. 

Housebuilders who invest in qualitative research to unearth truly illuminating insights will be the ones who stay at the front of the pack. 

AI may be wired to forge the path ahead, but we’re still wired for the human touch. (excerpts of this article appeared in Show House magazine).

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