Congratulations to Art, Patty and the rest of the CRMLS and CMLS crew for putting on a fabulous conference. The content was top notch, as was everything that went around it. After a conference like this, Clareity usually posts a fairly exhaustive description of the event but this time we’ve cut our report down to a third of what it could be and just post a few of what we thought were the most important takeaways.
There were two great sessions about building a great customer experience – one panel and one guest speaker (Jon Wolske) from Zappos. The biggest take away from that was that you want to create a workplace culture where you create raving fans out of customers by providing “WOW” service. And, it’s not just your subscribers that are customers, but everyone you work with as well. That’s something to which we can all aspire.
CMLS has published a set of MLS best practice documents, available from the http://cmls.org website. It’s good stuff, and if you don’t want to read through each entire document, look for the checklists in the back and supplement the items you want to know more about by looking earlier in the document. Kudos to Ann Hale Bailey for all the research and wisdom imparted.
The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has released its “Data Dictionary” – the Holy Grail for MLSs that, when adopted, will result in MLSs finally speaking the same data “language” – even if there are a few extra unusual words used in your local dialect. This can alleviate a LOT of problems facing software vendors and brokers with relation to the number of current MLSs (though not broker issues relating to having to pay for or try to participate in 10, 20, or 40 MLS boards of directors). Work with your MLS vendor to adopt the data dictionary ASAP. We hope to see many of you at the RESO meetings coming up next month in Las Vegas!
Then came what Clareity Consulting considered the most important session of the conference – where an interface designer (Yossi Langer) illustrated exactly how awful our MLS and website user experience & interfaces are. Actual user testing – measuring how long it takes to do common tasks and figuring out where there are usage difficulties – must become a core part of the development process in our industry. You all know Clareity’s been shouting about this for years (see our recent blog post about MLS reports), but maybe this time there were enough folks hearing the message first-hand, visually and irrefutably demonstrated, that we can make it a vendor priority. We would suggest starting with client collaboration, and then the core search and listing workflows that are most used by subscribers. We’d like to see some MLS vendors get up on stage at Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop in February 2015 and show us all some before and after interfaces, explaining how they measured the improvements in their testing.
At Clareity’s 2014 MLS Workshop we focused for almost 3 hours on subscriber communications. CMLS extended on this topic with additional excellent content. There were many tools and takeaways described but for us the biggest message was “Focus on images and even micro-videos in social media posts, especially images that tell stories and elicit calls to action”.
Our favorite quote of the conference came from speaker Peter Coffee: “If you do nothing, failure just happens.” Coffee also described something they do at Saleforce.com that Gregg just went nuts over. At regular team meetings, it is just as important that every member explains what they accomplished as what they did NOT get done as planned. This is not done for punishment, but rather for team learning and forcing the question: What can we do better next time?
There was a lot of additional content – the “Finding Balance” keynote, the pitch to MLSs to build an “Advocacy Partnership” with NAR, the broker and agent panel, the legal meetings (including REDPLAN update), the legal wrap-up and image copyright sessions, the session about online reviews (we can’t just ignore them), the strategic planning session, the sourceMLS update, the “building your tech team” and “disruptive startups” session, the Realty Alliance interview, and more. If you weren’t there and feel like you missed out, you’re right. If you were there and think something else in particular deserves more of a mention, feel free to add your comments below.
We’re looking forward to seeing you all again at NAR meetings, the Clareity MLS Executive Workshop (please register soon before it sells out) and, of course, next year at CMLS in Kansas City. We’re also proud to announce that Gregg Larson was elected to the CMLS Board of Directors for a three year term starting now!
We want to say, “Thank you!” to our many consulting clients who met with Clareity Consulting at CMLS – we’re looking forward to assisting you with your many upcoming projects, including MLS selection, regionalization, strategic and business planning, public speaking (ah, the syndication topic never gets old for brokers, does it?), security audits, business continuity planning, re-vamping data license agreements with your attorneys, helping you with your outsourced compliance, product management, and so much more. We appreciate your business and your friendship, and we look forward to serving you and your subscribers and customers, and working together to make the industry a better place for all. Thank you.
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