A Question of Property: Andy Soloman, CEO and Founder of Yomdel
Andy is the Founder and CEO of Yomdel, the UK’s only multiple award-winning provider of 24/7 managed live chat services. His business now supports around 2,000 estate agents and numerous businesses in other sectors. Yomdel is recognised as one of Britain’s fastest growing property industry suppliers.
As an entrepreneur, I have always been passionate about how the digital customer experience can be improved and so it seemed a natural step to seek ways to bridge the real world and the digital worlds. I wanted to work out why customer service was so important on the High Street but was being ignored online, where customers were expected to do everything for themselves.
For any estate agent these days, their most important office is their website. The footfall there is far higher than any branch, and while the question of Purple Bricks and online agents polarises opinion, one thing is certain: every estate agent in the UK needs to be a digital business.
Yomdel was the first company in the UK to offer intelligent 24/7 managed live chat and the company continues to innovate as it positions itself as a business growth partner to its numerous clients. Estate agents using Yomdel include Fine & Country, Chestertons, EweMove, Belvoir and many other national, regional and local brands. Yomdel services can be used on any website for online sales, lead generation or customer service and support.
We have a great team, and aside from myself and my business partner Tim Breden, we employ around 120 people across three locations.
HOW Can your service help ESTATE agents?
Yomdel helps estate agents generate significantly more business. Most people visiting agent websites come and go without making contact, but if you offer a fantastic digital customer experience through providing managed live chat, conversion rates significantly increase and that means more leads and more business. Add to this that 52% of people visit outside of standard business hours, so those agents using Yomdel are also able to capture significant extra opportunities just when their offices are closed. Our estate agent clients boost conversions by an average 52.3%, and the customer satisfaction scores currently range from an amazing 98% to an incredible 100%. The ROI often runs into thousands of percent.
Why should ESTATE agents care about THE LIVE CHAT?
Live chat is no longer an option. The best businesses will be using all available channels to communicate with existing and prospective clients, and this should include live chat alongside web forms, telephone, text messaging and social media channels. The interesting thing about intelligently executed live chat is that many people who otherwise would not have made contact, will do so via chat. They often have simple questions and if they get professional service and instant responses, they can then be nurtured to start a process that results in them becoming loyal customers. We have a globally leading 15-second average response time, and I’m immensely proud of the exceptional digital customer experience we deliver for our clients.
WHAT MAKES EXCEPTIONAL LIVE CHAT?
Beware, all live chat is not the same and it should never be a cost. Rather, it is an investment that delivers a transparent and measurable return. Yomdel handles tens of thousands of chats a month for UK estate agents and no other supplier has more experience understanding how to target, capture and deliver outstanding new business opportunities for clients. We have invested heavily in quality, processes and systems, and our UK operations team is constantly reviewing and managing output, to ensure our live chat operators are performing at the highest levels.
Our live chat operators are all graduates and postgraduates, with excellent written English skills. We are an ethical business that believes in supporting staff and creating career opportunities, which as a fast-growth business we can offer.
There are other live chat providers out there, but Yomdel is unique in the way we partner with clients to deliver the very best results. Our technical platforms are built based on my experience as a former Reuters foreign correspondent and editor, and speed and accuracy are essential. Add to this extra services such as taking visitors direct from chat into phone calls, SMS engagements, integrations into platforms such as Reapit , Google Analytics, and Yomdel truly stands alone. We were the first business to offer live chat to UK estate agents, and we are continuing to innovate and invest in our services to help clients grow faster.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PROPERTY OMBUDSMAN (TPO)
We work closely with TPO to offer real time support online to people facing issues with property agents. Having Yomdel on TPO website has enabled the ombudsman to offer support to significantly more people than ever before. In 2017, Yomdel helped TPO engage with a staggering 68% more people than the year before. This is ground-breaking work and will help TPO position itself to secure an increased mandate from the government to be the sole property-related ombudsman redress scheme. Unlike Ombudsman services in other sectors, TPO is unique in that it is genuinely open and available to consumers 24 hours every single day. That should be a non-negotiable requirement of all redress and consumer support services.
IS YOMDEL EASY TO SET UP?
Yes, easy. We provide a short snippet of code which takes a couple of minutes to place on the website. We also do all the heavy lifting and create detailed knowledge banks and key operator questions on a client’s behalf. Of course, we will have a few questions, but to get started it is as easy as it could be. And of course, it is all white-labelled, so our operators become a genuine extension of an agent’s own team.
IT ALL SOUNDS A BIT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Statistics from Deloitte show that 40% of 55-75-year olds use their smart phones every week to exchange instant messages. This is the wealthiest segment of society; these people are often home owners and are prime potential clients for estate agents. To give an idea of the impact, in 2017 Yomdel generated 48% of all valuation leads captured on the Fine & Country website. At EweMove, the website conversion rate once Yomdel was live increased by more than 50% and Yomdel has been one of the key services that has helped the business grow to more than 120 franchisees in just a few years. Gaining new instructions is the lifeblood of any estate agency. One London estate agent said the Yomdel service was the most spectacular change to his business since the birth of the internet.
What’s your ultimate goal for the YOMDEL business?
Our goal is to continue accelerating our already rapid growth and to set ever more ambitious targets for defining what excellence in our sector should look like. We have recently established Yomdel in New Zealand, and the range and scope of services is increasing rapidly. Yomdel is the market leader in the UK, and my mission now is to help educate people on as to what good looks like, while continuing to create exceptional customer experiences. There are more entrants to our sector now, and agents need to carefully consider how they choose a live chat provider. As I mentioned, cost should not be the main factor. After all, we have the responsibility of representing someone’s brand and businesses only have one opportunity to create a great first impression. These days that is likely to happen online.
Can you make a difference to the PROPERTY sector?
I like to think we already have, and the result achieved for clients speak for themselves. Our wonderful clients are incredibly loyal, and many of them have become firm friends. This reputation is hard-won, and here at Yomdel we will not accept second best. I’m hugely proud of our wonderful team, and the hat full of property industry awards we have won in recent years.