Customer Lifecycle :
4. Looking at options
In our series on the new build property development customer lifecycle, we look at the impact of digital and how technology is changing the customer buying experience. We break down the customer journey and describe each step and how it may be supported using technology whether it is acquired or developed.
Table of Contents
The customer search for homes
99% of buyers these days look for properties online. This may be on your website / social media page, on a property portal like RightMove or NewHomesForSale or through an agents online presence. However not everyone that visits may be looking to buy so it’s quite important to ascertain serious interest as soon as possible.
The best way to capture serious interest is to provide plenty of call to action options. A few of the most common are listed below:
- Register for interest – A button to allow a prospect to register their email address so that you can send them further detailed information or updates on the development.
- Book a viewing – few developers provide an online option but there are a number of online calendar solutions that makes managing diaries for sales people much easier, for example calendly.com.
- Calculators – calculators to help buyers check affordability or plan the costs for purchasing are a great way of helping prospects through the buying journey. These can either be developed by you or you can whitelabel solutions from providers like PropertyPriceAdvice.Co.Uk.
- Content – Useful guides or checklists to help prospects understand the buying process or benefits of new builds over existing residential sales.
- Offers – Time limited offers can incentivise prospects to move faster than they had originally planned.
Increased up-front information
One of the top four reasons why property sales fall through, and almost a third of sales do fail, is because the buyer loses confidence. For many this could be simply not having enough information about a property to make a sensible decision. For example not knowing enough about the area, not feeling confident about running their home or feeling that quality issues will not be resolved.
Increasingly developers are providing richer information and creating customer lifecycle portals to provide that information. Initially these have started with basic brochures and some extended content. However, they are now evolving into full lifecycle portals.
The Government’s Home Buying Selling Group is working to reduce the time it takes to process the sale of a property. They recognise with so many parties involved the process is taking months rather than weeks. They recognise that by digitising documentation the process can be accelerated with faster exchange of information. They are also working towards ensuring that buyers get fuller, better up front information also. Hence, developers should look to portals to facilitate the provision of this information now so they are prepared for future regulations.
Saving the planet
The switch to digital also improves the sustainability goals of developers. Aside from using sustainable energy resources and building materials, moving to digital documentation will create huge savings in paper/tree’s. We calculate that if every new home came only with digital documentation, over 10,000 tree’s a year could be saved.
From websites to full lifecycle portals
A full lifecycle portal exposes more information and capabilities as the prospect moves through the buyer journey. For example, initially the buyer registers for getting basic property and site information for a new development. By registering they also get updates on availability and any other important news about the new site.
Once a reservation fee has been taken, the portal provides access to property options, and later access to manuals/ownership documentation on exchange/handover. This progressive approach keeps the prospects engaged throughout the lifecycle whilst not overwhelming them with too many unnecessary details early on.
Initially the portal is focused on providing enough information to help buyers make a buying decision. Aside from basic dimensions and layouts, a summary of key features, options and local area information are the basics. Prospects can vary greatly and it is important to understand the different needs of buyers. Some are more analytical: they crave detailed information wanting to ensure every aspect of their buying decision is validated. Others are emotional and imagine living in the house/area and what their life will be like in it. Except for the most confident, the majority will seek validation from friends and family, so ensuring they can share information is also an important feature of the portal
“We calculate that if every new home came only with digital documentation, over 10,000 tree’s a year could be saved.“
Where possible capturing basic prospect demographic information will help developers throughout the customer journey to try and tailor approaches, content and messaging specific to the type of buyers (see our guide to Buyer Persona’s). According to McKinsey a personalised sales approach results in 5-15% increase in sales and 10-30% increase in marketing efficiency
Once a customer has shown interest, capturing contact details will allow developers to provide prospects regular updates or useful information. Done correctly without overwhelming the prospect, this can build confidence in the prospect that the developer wants to be helpful and can be trusted to provide open information about the property.
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