Customer Lifecycle :
5. Comparing 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
Funnelling customers to you
Once a buyer moves towards making a decision on a property it is natural that they ask more questions, and their detailed questions reveal their serious intent. At this point it is imperative to be responsive. A request for a brochure is not serious intent, but wanting to know about specific features or options does highlight keen interest.
Questions can be handled in a number of ways:
- Calls: Sales support line
- Visits: Drop into sales office
- Website – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- Messaging (online chat, SMS text or social media direct messages)
Developers should be clear what options they provide AND manage response times for each method. Generally the more options supported the better, however, this should not be at the expense of good response times.
FAQS should only be used for basic high level questions such as availability timescales, financing options or local area. Room should be left for prospects to make contact with developers so that salespeople have the opportunity to manage the sales cycle from serious enquiries.
Digital experience has pervaded all aspects of our lives and with it our expectations on response times. So it is important to understand customer expectations on response time for all of the options you provide. Our suggested timescales for excellence in sales are:
- Calls: Response within 3 rings, response to voicemail within half a day.
- Visits: Ideally allow 07:30 – 7:30pm this allows people to drop in before work, during lunch or after work. The longer hours are more important for larger sites.
- Website: All pages should load within 3 seconds.
- Email: Responses are expected within 2 hours.
- Messaging: Responses expected within 15minutes, but ideally as close to immediate as possible.
It is possible to provide “automated responses” for messaging and solutions like “MeetParker” are becoming more intelligent about the range of queries they can handle. Although digital, they can provide feedback or hand-off to actual sales people too.
As highlighted previously, many developers are starting to implement “Customer Lifecycle Portals”. The “sales portal” is the first step in that lifecycle. Generally a customer will register with their email address and be given access to more detailed information and offered the opportunity to receive regular updates on the development of the site.
A sales portal has many benefits over both brochures and a developers website:
- There is no need to distribute property information as it is self served through the portal.
- Updates / information can be specific to the potential buyer rather than a general update to brochure or website.
- The quantity / type of information shared can be specific to the prospects stage in the buying journey.
- Content does not have to be limited by print costs so developers can provide many more appealing images.
- Content can be interactive such as a video or animation.
- Customers can be notified of updates.
Often the sales portal is seen as a “simple” extension to the developers website. However because of the need to register, capture customer information to personalise content and interaction, they are more complex than a website to develop. Complexity in developing a full customer lifecycle portal increases as more stages of the lifecycle are supported. Off the shelf solutions are available and developers should carefully consider the benefits of buying a solution rather than developing one. This decision is very similar to whether you build a CRM or buy a solution (see our paper “Customer Lifecycle – Build or Buy”).
“We calculate that if every new home came only with digital documentation, over 10,000 tree’s a year could be saved.“
Better up front information
Both in existing residential sales and new property sales there is increasing pressure to provide better up front information for buyers. This in part is being driven by the Home Buying & Selling Group and also the New Homes Ombudsman. The goal is to reduce the time it takes to transact a property sale. However, another key benefit is that better information builds confidence in buyers and a loss of buyer confidence accounts for around a quarter of failed transactions.
Aside from providing better upfront information the digitisation of property information is seen as a keen enabler to improving transaction times. However there are other benefits for developers too. A move to digital is sustainable and hence better for the planet. With increasing pressure for developers to report on ESG, we estimate over 10,000 tree’s could be saved annually if developers moved to digital documentation.
Digital also makes it easier to search information, saving on unnecessary viewings or calls. It also allows prospects to self-serve information requirements at their own pace.
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