There are plenty of search engines that produce search results just as good as Google but with more results per page and better privacy and yet everyone hasn’t switched.
Because the lock in effect is very powerful.
The lock in effect is a term used to describe the process whereby a company makes it difficult for customers to leave them and change providers even if the customer really wants to.
For example, I have a friend who banks with BofA. She always complains about the miscellaneous fees that they charge but BofA is making it difficult for her to cancel and move to another bank. Rather than simply canceling your account online or with the teller, you need to meet with a rep and then they send you back to the teller to cancel your account.
You feel “locked in” because the inconvenience and frustration of changing to another bank is so high.
Let’s take another example. You’ve implemented a new technology at your company. Hundreds of employees have learned to use this new system, client records and contacts are stored in there daily. All of your employees have mastered this new system which makes it a lot harder to suddenly up and switch systems.
The cost of investing in a new technology and the time required to re-learn and master a new technology is too high and once again, you feel locked in.
What lock in essentially says is, it’s just too hard for me to switch.
Online Consumers Love Zillow and Trulia More Than You
Zillow had 73,514,000 unique visitors in the month of December 2014 (source: Zillow). Every day millions of consumers are visiting the site to search the millions of properties across the United States.
Both portals provide extensive pages of content containing everything a consumer could possibly want to know about a property: property details, pictures, transaction history, school information, etc.
Then, there’s reviews. Zillow has published more than 800,000 reviews of local real estate agents as of November 2014.
(Recommended reading: Why Online Consumers Love Zillow & Trulia More Than You by Todd Carpenter).
It’s no wonder consumers start their home search experience there. They have access to everything they need to know about a property as well as access to unbiased reviews of local real estate professionals. And, they can access that information on the go from any device.
How To Use the Lock In Effect To Win Consumers Over
But Zillow and Trulia are lacking something only you have.
Local knowledge and expertise.
What if you delivered so much value through your content and a great user experience through your IDX-powered website that your customers and potential customers lock themselves in.
They don’t need to register on another agent’s IDX website because yours provides everything that they need: today’s latest listings, today’s latest market data, and answers to all of their questions concerning the local market.
What if you answered the phone every time someone called you about a listing?
What if you sent your prospects listing alerts on properties that matched their specific search criteria as often as they asked to receive it? And, you backed that up with additional insights into the local market like how the average sales price is $415,000 and this home is selling $10,000 just below the average.
What if you provided knowledge an insight into the local market? The kind of knowledge and insight that only a local real estate and community expert would know.
Yeah consumers might have originated their search for homes on a portal but now they’re on your site and now you’ve locked them in by being responsive, by giving them the latest listing data, and by delivering an overall great user experience that says, I don’t need to keep looking for another agent, I just found the right one.
Agents like Jeremy Olsher in South Florida are closing deals from the big portals by doing just that every single day.
Consumers always have the freedom to work with whomever they decide. Make it your ongoing challenge to deliver a compelling customer experience to compel them and inspire them to keep choosing you.