Is it time for a MLS “Light” product solution?

by Marilyn Wilson on April 30, 2011

I have spent the last couple of hours reviewing verbatim comments from a member satisfaction survey for one of the largest MLSs in the United States. While they have outstanding satisfaction scores overall we always like to look at those that are less satisfied than average to better understand what could improve satisfaction.

One of the themes that came through loud and clear with the less than satisfied was the need for simplicity. Many said things like “there are too many bells and whistles”, “just want to “get in and get out” of the system quickly and that’s not possible today.  While this sentiment is not coming from the majority of the customers, there is a fairly large contingent of customers who feel this way. They are so busy just trying to survive right now that they don’t have time to spend learning what they believe are complicated tools.  Interestingly the group saying this does seem to be a bit older than average, but let’s face it, the industry is being driven by the experienced agents who are more mature so they are a VERY important audience.

At the same time, there’s a new breed of agents who are more tech savvy than average and they are frustrated for different reasons.  They believe the industry is behind the times because some MLS systems are still not available on all browsers and are not viewable on iPads.

Maybe it’s time to create two new products – one that is MLS “Light” – a simple system with listing input, search, simple to use CMA and maybe auto emailing capabilities and leave it at that.  Just include a simple dashboard to view their own activity and be done with it. Forget reports and the other modules they don’t use much.

The second product could be centered around a mobile platform – make it the easiest to use tool to input, view, promote and distribute listings to social media all from a mobile platform. For those that are moving away from traditional computers to pad devices, build a tool that is just for them.   This version could be really interesting for many audiences. In a survey we have in the field currently we are seeing that many are using their ipads as “large smartphones” as well as those that are using it as a more portable version of their computer.  This tool might be able to work with many audiences ultimately.  It would also need to have a great property search interface that agents could use while they were viewing homes with their customers. A consumer-facing version of the property search included in this package would be great too. Realtor.com tells us that about 20% of all of their traffic on the weekends is coming through mobile application now. They say their mobile traffic is more targeted, qualified and interested in buying a home, not just looking around for fun.

I would love to see the MLS software companies think more seriously about creating a nimble suite of products designed for specific customer’s needs and get away from the one size fits all approach. Certainly those that are cross-browser compatible have gotten closer to this vision, but it would be great to offer the “light” version of even those tools.

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