New digital services and channels are helping us to react faster and interact smarter in both our personal and professional lives. The digital revolution presents a massive opportunity for both existing players and new entrants to differentiate not only their services but also the customer experience. We talked to entrepreneur Jim Urell about how his company Property Button and its digital transformation are reshaping the rental property market. 

Why did things need to change? 

Every vacant property is a lost opportunity and a lost home. In 2015, family homelessness in Ireland, which is where we are based, increased by 93%. Moving people between properties takes time – too much time. There’s a massive list of tasks that have to be completed when a property is vacated – from conducting inspections and undertaking repairs to updating utility accounts and organising cleaners. Our role is to help housing associations, estate agents, and private landlords work through this list of tasks faster, so properties can be reassigned faster. 

What processes did your digital transformation encompass? 

Pretty much everything! We identified six stages in the property management lifecycle, which includes the moving in and moving out process as well as day-to-day administration and maintenance. Using Community Cloud and App Cloud, we created a marketplace that currently manages the commercial transactions and tasks for more than 42,000 properties. We push out task notifications to the marketplace users via Service Cloud, which reduces the traditional paper trail associated with letting and managing rental properties. 

What about the tenants, have you transformed the process for them too? 

Yes, we’ve made it both digital and mobile. Finding a new property can be very stressful – people want to know how things are progressing. Using App Cloud, we’ve created a free app for tenants, which enables them to manage their property viewings, offers, and contracts in real time. 

Have you developed any other apps? 

We’ve actually developed an entire suite of apps. We want everyone in the property management lifecycle to have real-time visibility. Letting agents, landlords, and maintenance workers all use our apps to ensure key tasks, such as scheduling repairs and ordering new white goods, are completed as quickly as possible. 

So has your digital transformation made a difference? 

Absolutely! By using online communities and mobile apps, we have helped our customers close the gap between a property being empty and occupied. For example, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in Ireland has reduced the vacant period of its properties by 21%.

To help our customers continue to drive occupancy rates up, we are using Salesforce to tap into a range of analytics. This enables us to identify when leases or utility contracts are due for renewal, which means the tenant and the letting agency can plan ahead more effectively. It also ensures that tenants get the best deal on their utility services and prevents any interruption in supply. 

How did Salesforce simplify your digitalisation journey? 

We could never have got this far without Salesforce; its people have been great at helping us understanding the art of the possible. The Salesforce platform can transform every business process and function.

As a small company that can be a bit daunting. Salesforce arranged different demos for different areas of our business and put us on the ladder of learning. Within six months of deploying Salesforce, our teams were coming up with new ideas for new features. For example, we’ve introduced a digitalised process for the issue and acceptance of leases to new tenants, which simplifies the process for everyone. We want to ensure people can move into their new homes as soon as possible.

Next on the development radar is a ‘trouble ticket’ feature, which will enable tenants to report issues relating to their property with the letting agency via a web portal. This will improve transparency and efficiency for both the tenant and the agent. 

What’s next for Property Button? 

This is a particularly exciting time for Property Button as we’ve just launched our service in the UK. The UK poses significant opportunities for us to grow and develop. The relationship between Property Button and Salesforce has never been more important.   

Digitalisation will eventually touch every business process and every customer interaction. The quicker businesses make the transition, the quicker they can reap the rewards – as Property Button discovered. Its sign-up rate for estate agents has increased by 30% since implementing Salesforce. To learn more about Property Button’s digital journey, watch the video and read the full story

To start thinking about your own company's digital transformation, check out this Creating a Connected Customer Experience e-book which is jam packed with expert insights and future thinking.