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Agent-Friendly Lifeline Solves Printer Freezes, Computer Crashes and Smartphone Glitches

RETechnology-Tech-Helpline--image_950X650-for-Product-Guide-2015During a hot real estate market, when multiple offers and speedy responses are vital, there may be no greater horror than when a real estate agent is printing a Purchase and Sale agreement and a printer freezes or a computer crashes. It can cost an agent a deal.

Have you ever lost a transaction because of a technology failure? If you have, you’re not alone.

The truth is that many real estate agents across the U.S. have no technical support lifeline. Anecdotal evidence tells us most agents are likely to take a game show approach and “phone a friend” to try and find a solution to their technology woes if they can’t figure it out themselves.

In fact, according to NAR research, more than half of all agents primary source of technology information comes from other real estate agents in their offices. While many franchises will offer some level of local technical support, there are hundreds of thousands of real estate agents who don’t have back up support when a printer freezes, computer crashes or their smartphone glitches.

Realtors respond

Almost fifteen years ago, Florida Realtors® (then named the Florida Association of REALTORS®) saw this tech support void. In response, the Association created a new service for its members called Tech Helpline. The concept was simple: Provide members with a professionally trained, highly skilled and most importantly, friendly U.S.-based tech support service that was specifically designed for Realtors and the technology they use.

Throughout Florida, Tech Helpline quickly became one of the Association’s most valued member benefits. Today, Tech Helpline has grown well beyond the Sunshine state and now nearly 400,000 Realtors from New York to California and across Canada have access to this vital technical support service. More than 70 Realtor Associations, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and real estate brokerage firms offer Tech Helpline and it’s growing.

Agents think of Tech Helpline as a Genius Bar for real estate with one huge advantage: Its team of technical analysts are experts at understanding both the technology that real estate agents and brokers most commonly use, as well as the real estate business activities of an agent and broker. This approach makes an enormous difference because real estate is a highly time sensitive, deadline-driven industry.

For agents like John Mike, a RE/MAX agent in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, calling Tech Helpline is a welcoming relief, saying “I have dealt with a lot of IT customer service over the years: Dell, Comcast, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, etc. This was without question the most positive experience I have ever had with IT [Customer Service], anywhere,” he said.

How it works

Tech Helpline’s services are provided to real estate agents through their local or State Association, an MLS or their brokerage firm. Because the service is provided as a member or company benefit, there are not any direct costs to the agent. Agents can contact Tech Helpline for free and the number of times they can call for help are unlimited.

There also is no limit on the length of a call and assistance is offered in both English and Spanish. Agents can initiate help by phone, online chat or email. Uniquely, when an agent calls for help, he or she can also ask for assistance with multiple issues on a single call. This is very atypical for most technical support services.

That means if an agent is having a Wi-Fi issue, but also needs help exporting contacts from Outlook or Gmail for a mail merge, one call to Tech Helpline is all that’s needed to solve both problems.

What it covers

Tech Helpline covers an extensive list of hardware and software support, including:

  • Computer operating systems: Microsoft Windows & Mac OS X
  • Hardware: Smartphones (iPhones, Android, Windows & Blackberry), Tablets, Laptops, Monitors, Network Adapters, Printers, Storage devices and more
  • Software applications: MS Outlook, Webmail, Form Simplicity, Microsoft Office products, Intuit Quicken and Quickbooks, Adobe Acrobat, iTunes and more
  • All PC compatible, MACs and clones: Acer, AST, Dell, HP, Levono, Apple Macs, Sony, Toshiba and more
  • Virus and Firewall Applications: Virus removal, Antivirus programs, Spyware and Adware removal and prevention and more
    Tech Helpline also provides complete product services support for Form Simplicity, a sister-product also created by Realtors for Realtors and owned by Florida Realtors.

What’s next?

Tech Helpline has grown organically since it was first offered to Florida Realtors in 2001, primarily through recommendations from existing clients and participation in real estate trade shows. Recently, Tech Helpline was featured at the Texas Realtors Conference, the Georgia Realtors Annual Conference, and the Colorado Association of Realtors Convention in Keystone, Colorado.

Tech Helpline’s mission is to help make sure that every Realtor® in North America has access to technical support. By reaching out to every MLS and Association, Tech Helpline is offering a member benefit that more than pays for itself. Often just one call to a Tech Helpline analyst covers a member’s annual membership dues. That’s why it often becomes one of the most popular member benefits that an MLS or Association offers.

To grow the number of agents it reaches, Tech Helpline is telling its story to real estate broker owners. Offering agents full-time access to real estate-centric tech support can be an exceptional way for real estate broker-owners to strengthen their ability to recruit and retain agents.

It’s also going to be more cost effective. When an owner calculates both hard costs and soft costs of what it takes to provide an onsite tech support person, then compares both the breadth of the services offered and the quality of tech support, Tech Helpline is most likely to provide a significant cost savings for brokerages.

In the end, Tech Helpline increases agent productivity and if it could save just one transaction for one agent once in that agent’s career, it would more than pay for a lifetime of Tech Helpline services for that agent.

By Tricia Stamper, Director of Technology Products, Florida Realtors®