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Keys to Technology Adoption: Part 3

October 07 2011

Today we're continuing the white paper from Michael Audet of the WAV Group. We'll be releasing the white paper in a series, so stay tuned for the final installment.

“Keys to Adoption” Examples
Our “Keys to Adoption” examples focus on a company and product called DotLoopDotLoop, which has been around since 2009.   When we first heard about DotLoop we assumed they were another Transaction Management company.  But after looking at their software and approach to helping brokers and agents we realized they were doing things differently than what we would call traditional transaction management.  DotLoop will tell you they exist to bring multiple people together from multiple locations to close the deal, it’s that simple.  They believe their software and service sits in a unique space in this regard.

From our vantage point, having reviewed the product and spoken with a number of users noted in this example, we think their product might be better called a “virtual work space”.  It basically creates a real time connection between all parties involved in a transaction to make the process faster and easier.

Case Study Interviews
Our purpose in interviewing several users of the DotLoop system was to explore their thoughts on the product and why they thought it was being adopted at what appears to be a faster pace than many other products.  Some of those interviewed receive DotLoopDotLoop through their real estate company while some receive it through their association or MLS.

Keith Rector – Broker Owner Rector-Hayden RealtorsRector-Hayden Realtors – Lexington, KY
Rector Hayden LogoKeith is the owner of Rector-Hayden RealtorsRector-Hayden Realtors, a large brokerage with 6 offices.  They received DotLoopDotLoop through their MLS and have been using it since May of 2010.  Keith informed us that their board had been using another, more traditional transaction management program, prior to this but adoption had been very low.  He says the product was just too cumbersome even for his most advanced agents and it just never took off.  He says when DotLoop was brought in usage was substantially higher.  When asked why he said it is mainly because it is just easier to use.  He says the ramp up period is much shorter and DotLoop includes “how to” videos on almost every page if someone has a question.  He believes this is the real key to the adoption.

He also points out that not all agents use it completely but even those that don’t take full advantage of all the features, like digital signature for example, can still get in to use the forms module and document features. So even those that aren’t “expert” users get value from the DotLoopDotLoop product.

We were curious, as a big broker, whether he felt software such as this should be offered through his company, as he was doing it, or through the MLS.  Keith said he felt this was software that everybody should have access to, ideally, so they could all collaborate easily during a transaction so he thought offering it through the MLS was the right way to go.  He added that if the MLS decided to add it down the road he would be happy to get it through them.

When we asked Keith to list what he saw as the “keys for adoption” that DotLoopDotLoop was turning, he reported:

  1. Ease of use – he noted there are big buttons that say “Start a Loop” which you can’t miss.  Agents need very simple software that doesn’t frustrate them.
  2. Access to help – he says the videos and service have been great so when they do run into problems people don’t get frustrated, they can ‘t find answers.

We also asked Keith if he had a wish list of features he would like to see added or improved.  In terms of features he says that DotLoopDotLoop was really designed for a single signature per form and in some cases that isn’t how they do things, so they have had to adapt.  He says, for example, they might have a form where thing occur over time that require initials as you go with a final signature in the end.  Currently they can’t do this with DotLoop but he points out that DotLoop is looking at this and is very cooperative in helping them to address the exceptions they run into.

Keith says the real issues is just getting adoption by a critical mass of users in the MLS so it can really be used effectively all the time.

One additional thing he did point out was the fact that since not everyone uses DotLoop they still needed to be able to scan, print, send and sign documents outside the system.  DotLoopDotLoop actually added these capabilities into the system after the fact.  He mentioned that DotLoop’s willingness to add this, at no additional cost because they agreed it made sense was a key to why it was a good technology partnership.

Whitney PannellWhitney Pannell – Realtor at Prudential Realty – Lexington, KY
Whitney Pannell LogoWhitneyWhitney is a social media specialist, as well as an agent, and the day we spoke to her, she was actually giving a seminar on using social media in the real estate business.  We point this out because obviously WhitneyWhitney is tech savvy.  She is also a successful agent who had 36 sides and did about $12 million in sales in 2010.

When we asked Whitney what she thought of DotLoop she blurted out, “I love it”!  We asked her to tell us why and here are some of her comments:

“It is just  real time saver.  I don’t have to leave my car to get a contract signed.”

“I remember evenings running out to get something initialed at 1:00 AM to get a deal done.  Now I can do it all on my Smartphone or iPad.”

We asked WhitneyWhitney whether her clients had the same experience and whether they embraced the DotLoopDotLoop technology as quickly.  She reported that she knew ahead of time which clients would love it and which ones it would be a stretch for, and who would be afraid of it and used it accordingly, saying that about 80% were happy to use it.  She also said that most of the Realtors she did deals with were comfortable using it as well.

Keys for adoption from Whitney’s perspective are:

  1. It is really pretty easy to use.  She says she took two classes that were only about an hour each.
  2. It lets her do business from her phone or iPad.  She is a working mother and this frees her up while also letting her be responsive to her clients.
  3. The support is great from videos to phone support.

 

Leah King – Market Center Administrator – Keller Williams CaryKeller Williams Cary, NC
Keller WilliamsLeah’s office receives DotLoopDotLoop as part of the eEdge solution rolled out by Keller Williams International to all 80,000 Keller William’s agents.  The eEdge suite is made up of products from three different vendors, DotLoop, MarketLeaderMarketLeader and ImprevImprev.  For our discussion today we are only looking at the DotLoop product but the eEdge solution is a great example of the enterprise level solutions we referred to in our previous white paper, the “Shift in Real Estate TechnologyShift in Real Estate Technology”.

Leah informed us that the owner of their firm had been investigating “paperless” options prior to the eEdge product being released but felt that most were simply “scan, store and send” systems that duplicated the paper process they had in place.  Leah reports that the process with DotLoopDotLoop was different in concept in that everybody collaborates on the same documents during the transaction. Nothing has to be sent.  Participants just make changes to the document that everybody sees together on DotLoop DotLoop .  The history of changes for any document can be seen at any time on DotLoop but there are not multiple versions of the document.  Leah says this has really made the process easy for her agents to manage.

For Leah, in her role as Market Center Administrator (MCA), she is in charge of compliance review for all deals for the company.  The company was able to set up DotLoopDotLoop to work the way they wanted, using the statuses they had always used, within the DotLoop system, which made implementation much easier for them.  They didn’t have to learn new terminology along with new technology.

We asked Leah what she liked best about DotLoopDotLoop and why she believed their agents were adopting it.  She reported:

  1. It really makes working with any remote buyers or sellers simple.  It eliminates the distance issue and connects everyone real time.
  2. Parties that are using DotLoop can circulate and sign any agreement in five minutes.
  3. It is easy to use.
  4. DotLoop has great customer service so when they have questions they get answers quickly.

Our Observations

  • In all of these examples we have noted the number one theme in each is the product was easy to use.  Everyone mentioned this as a key reason why their agents were receiving value.  In the case of Lexington users, they also had previous experience with a similar system so they had something to compare it with. This is in perfect alignment with our first “key to adoption”, easy – easy – easy, fast – fast –fast.  Successful adoption has to start with that key ingredient.
  • Another “key to adoption” that wasn’t articulated by the users the way we see it, but was noted just the same, is the fact that they “innovated” and didn’t just “incrementalize”. DotLoopDotLoop didn’t just replicate a paper process where documents are passed back and forth as modifications are made.  From their perspective, they believe they have solved a different problem, bringing multiple people in multiple locations into a virtual workspace room where everyone is always sitting around the same document.  They call this their “Version-NOWÔ” technology and this is a good example of technology being used to create a new way of doing things rather than just improving an existing process. As changes are made to any document, it doesn’t create more and more versions of that document that you have to save, send and review and look back at previous documents to understand the history of changes.  There is just one single document. As soon as a change is made it is available to everyone immediately.
  • The other thing we noticed, that wasn’t obvious to the users except in the fact that they liked the process was how DotLoopDotLoop avoided the standards trap when they designed their product by developing their own digital signature process.  They acknowledged to us that they looked at options like DocuSignDocuSign, and in fact they spoke glowingly about DocuSignDocuSign in terms of what that product does.  But “they noted that after looking at the pre-existing electronic signatures solutions and DotLoop's Version-NOW, that Version-NOW was the only complete solution.  The other modular tools just automated pieces of what they were trying to accomplish” .  So, they made the decision to create this internally as they saw this as a core value of their product.  Again, this is a great example of our “keys to adoption” of knowing when to lead and when to follow.
  • Working with existing nomenclature is also important, as noted by Leah King during her interview.  Being able to use terms and statuses already in use by a company when implemented, rather than forcing users to adapt to the vendors vernacular makes it easier for agents to get up to speed.

To view the first installment of the white paper, click here. For the second, click here. If you can't wait for the next installment, you can download the full white paper here.