Technology has significantly changed the home building industry, from sales and marketing strategies, to the actual design of homes. Builders have to think about the customer experience for establishing brand awareness, for improving brand engagement, and for standing out from competitors.
To attract the new generation of home buyers, gain their loyalty, and receive their recommendations, every element of the customer experience must be considered. We’ve compiled a list of 5 tips for home builders to improve their customer experience.
What is the “customer experience” for a home builder?
The customer experience encompasses a series of customer interactions with the brand and services throughout the entire purchase process and the customer life cycle. If this is successful, it can contribute to building an overall reputation for excellence.
A home builder must be present everywhere future buyers expect him to be, regardless of the medium, in order to improve contact, accelerate decision-making, ensure satisfaction and then, later, win their loyalty and recommendations.
Why Focussing on the Customer Experience?
Because your competitors are doing it. At least do it as well as they do!
Many business owners remain skeptical about investing in this type of initiative, especially when client feedback is already satisfactory. Potential gains can seem negligible for a return on investment that’s even more uncertain.
This scenario is especially common in the home building industry and explains why some high-quality home builders have difficulties faced to competitors that are further along in their client relationship management process.
If estimating the short-term impact of a customer experience-based strategy seems challenging, on a larger scale, the figures are indisputable: according to a study conducted by MIT and Capgemini Consulting, businesses “who have reached a certain digital maturity” have significantly better sales performance.
To sell more… and better! Word-of-mouth works.
The customer experience has a direct impact on company results, including higher levels of customer satisfaction, and an increase in opportunities generated by recommendations.
More sensitive to the experience, customers place less importance on the price and are more satisfied with the services they were expecting to receive. Awareness and positive buzz contribute to lowering marketing costs while increasing the number of prospects and facilitating sales.
According to Gartner, 64% of consumers consider the customer experience more important than price when choosing a home builder.
Home Builders: 5 Tips to Improve Customer Experience
#1 Identify the customer journey
The first step in improving the customer experience consists in establishing a complete mapping of the customer journey, from its initial research of a home builder to handing over the keys. This overview allows to stress the processes, and to identify the people involved and all points of contact that a home buyer might have with a builder. It is key to identify each step along the journey, and emphasize all potential problems that might jeopardize the relationship with the brand.
The intent of mapping a customer journey is to visually understand all the important details of your client’s path and how they impact his decision-making.
Each step should be broken down by putting yourself in your client shoes: what are they looking for? How do they look for it? What influences decision making? What should or shouldn’t be done and why? At this stage, to go further, train your employees to see things from the customer’s point of view: help them develop their empathy through scenarii, and make sure they are committed to improving the process for meeting future buyers’ expectations.
This approach naturally leads to a detailed analysis of the client’s needs and generally moves the entire company into a positive dynamic.
#2 Communicate in a consistent way
Once the customer journey is defined, it is time to identify the steps to improve first, to build the key messages that will address the client’s pain points all along the journey, and to define a consistent visual identity. The way you address your clients must be consistent whatever the path taken by the client.
You may point out through this customer journey that a client can have different and/or inconsistent experiences depending on the channel he uses. It’s time to move to an homogeneous experience across all sales/marketing channels. Start slowly and methodically by standardizing the current process before introducing new elements.
Your website plays a major role in your customer relationships. It’s often the first point of contact between a future buyer and a home builder. At this stage, your objective is to receive requests for information from future clients so you can call them back and proceed to the first step of qualification.
A number of elements will ease the first contact and encourage visitors to fill in a form. 3D renderings, virtual tours, videos, photos, are some of these.
**To go further: **Marketing for Home Builders: 3 Ideas for Your Website
Additionally, the most advanced home builders in this arena use data segmentation to improve the customer experience. Using the technology available today, you can create customer profiles even before they request information on your website.
Imagine a social media marketing campaign that would include various ads filtered by geographic area, age, areas of interest, etc. As soon as a potential client is recorded on your website from this campaign, a pre-qualification is performed. The client is added to a profile type that will be expanded upon throughout their journey. This information will probably ease the first contact made by the salesperson. This is why it should be accessible in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database. This platform, dedicated to customer relationship management, allows to store and sort useful information about a client in order to personalize the relationship as much as possible.
#4 Automate the qualification process
On your website’s contact form, only ask for information that’s absolutely necessary.
For an optimal experience, the potential buyer has be contacted as soon as possible after a request for information. The conversion rate is 25% higher if an incoming lead is called back less than 30 minutes after the request! Afterwards, the chances to convert are two times higher if the second phone call takes place within the following 24 hours (Source: Sales Force).
#5 Personalize the experience as per your client’s profile
The qualification process enables to discover what’s important to the potential client. It is easier to establish a personalized relationship with him. It can start with the presentation of 3D renderings of the home project. It can be customized with 3D furniture, colors, and decorations that meet your client’s needs. The objective is too help him see himself living in the future home, and speed up the decision-making.