Customer Care :
What is a Digital Handover Guide
Traditional paper handover packs and pdf’s on a USB stick are being replaced by fully digital, smartphone friendly apps that enhance the customer buying experience and reduce calls into customer care. In this article we delve deeper into the digitalisation of the lowly handover guide and how it can be used by property developers to their advantage.
Table of Contents
When selling a brand new build property, Part L of the Buildings Regulations which forms part of the government’s Future Home Standard, requires that all newly built properties are handed over with a Home User Guide (HUG) or Handover Guide.
The handover guide should contain non-technical advice on how to operate and maintain the home in a healthy and energy efficient manner in a suitable form to be understood by the occupants. The guide is usually expanded to include other paperwork such as warranties, certifications, contacts, local area info etc.
Paper Handover Guides
The majority of property developers are providing handover packs in paper form. Although the original documents may be in a digital format, plenty of time is spent by the printer or photocopier, preparing and piecing together that then has to be neatly filed into a folder. The process has to be repeated for every plot and many developers will retain copies for their own records to assist with support calls. Developers then have to find storage for these files which may be required to assist with support calls.
On the surface, this seems an elegant solution and the homebuyer walks away feeling great having received a luxurious folder containing all the paperwork for their new home. In practice, the usefulness of heavy documentation is limited and the novelty soon wears off when the homebuyers need to find specific information. This could be from how to set the heating on the boiler to supplier details for a malfunctioning appliance. This inevitably leads to a call to Customer Care.
Another issue with paper packs are that once they’re handed over, updates are not easily distributed. Depending on the developer and the client, this usually means more time spent printing and posting, or sending an email attachment. It’s fairly plausible to send emails but now the data and communication starts to become fragmented and harder to find.
PDF’s on a USB Stick
One advancement in handover guides is digitising the paperwork, usually into PDF’s and distributing via a USB stick. Many medium to large developers have recognised that a digital solution is a more cost effective and sustainable approach, and one which allows changes to be made more easily.
The problem arises from using USB sticks as a means of distribution. USB sticks are not as practical as they may at first seem. They get lost, homebuyers need to have the device at hand and then connect to a computer to access or copy on to a device if they want to access frequently. More importantly, the physical device itself creates unnecessary waste.
PDF handover guides are also very generic and static in nature. They allow minimal interaction or update from the owners which means the handover guide becomes stale leading homebuyers to call Customer Care as to the first port of call for support.
What does it mean to be digital ?
Firstly, let’s look at homebuyers and societal trends. Whether a homebuyer is a First Time Buyer, Upsizer, Downsizer or Investor (link), technology and smartphones in particular, play a vital part in people’s everyday lives. In the UK, smartphone penetration rate is growing annually and currently is around 92% . Access to information at your fingertips is the mantra that most have become accustomed to. Paper is swapped for online equivalents that make the data easy to access, search, share, action and replicate with a few mouse clicks. The home buying journey for over 90% of people starts with digital, so inevitably customers expect other aspects of the journey to be digital.
For property developers, having too many manual processes in the lifecycle of a build e.g. paper heavy, reliant on printing and photocopying, telephone calls etc leads to inefficiency; increased calls to customer care, longer turnaround times in answering customer queries, no consistency from one development to the next. These all eat up small chunks of time and when accumulated, work against operational efficiency.
Having property information fully digitised and centralised, easily accessible, fully searchable and in the same view as that provided to homebuyers, can have efficiency improvements in not only responding to customers faster, but providing the ability for homebuyers to self-serve answers to questions.
So what’s the answer ?
The digital revolution is long overdue in certain aspects of the property development lifecycle. Handover and post move in Customer Care have long been overlooked with more focus on prospecting and sales progression.
There is a lot of detailed and useful information contained in the handover pack. In a digital format, this information can be made easily accessible, provided up front and used throughout the customer buying lifecycle; sales, post reservation, handover and customer care.
In addition, providing online tools and resources to help new homebuyers manage and maintain their home when the developer has moved on, is often an overlooked part of the buying experience and one that can further help to reduce calls to customer care in the long term. For example, a simple set of reminders like servicing the boiler or heat pump, can help ensure warranties are not invalidated and that installations are maintained in good working order. These types of features extend the capability of a digital handover guide into a digital assistant.
Innova by AskHomey aims to do exactly this. Our goal is to help developers :
1. Create handover packs in an Easier, Faster, Cheaper & more Sustainable way
We help developers produce packs for 1 property or an entire site of hundreds and thousands. Our solution does this faster than is possible with physical packs. We help save developers valuable customer care time and money (cost of printers/copiers and folders). Typically the bulk of the pack can be created for all plots in less than an hour, all from behind a desk rather than going onsite or standing behind a photocopier.
2. Reduce Support Calls
We reduce support calls by making it easier and much faster to find answers than either homebuyers calling customer care or customers manually searching paper files. Our powerful search engine is enabled with Artificial Intelligence which scans all your documents and images pinpointing searches to specific pages. Your customer care team will have the same full access so they never have to leave their desk to find a folder to answer a question, we provide the information at their fingertips. Being cloud based, this is available on any device, anywhere, anytime.
3. Increase sales
By providing image rich, detailed property information upfront, developers can reduce the risks of buyers falling out of the sale cycle. Providing buyers with detailed information is proven to increase buyer confidence but also shows that you care about their longer term use of the property, not just the purchase. Pre-sale, the properties on the platform can be shared to prospects via a link, giving them access to the extensive gallery of photos and details about your properties. Managing the property data doesn’t require a marketing or web design expert, it’s simple enough for your customer care or sales team to update.
“Managing the property data doesn’t require a marketing or web design expert, it’s simple enough for your customer care or sales team to update.“
Contact the Innova team at AskHomey for a demo and a free trial. Discover how being truly digital can improve the customer home buying experience and in turn, improve sales and customer care.
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