Customer Lifecycle :
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
Getting to completion
Whilst it is important to manage all stages of the customer lifecycle, the most important is managing the customer once they have decided to buy. This generally starts with the decision to place a deposit / reservation fee on a property.
Almost a third of property sales fail and the placement of a reservation fee does not guarantee a sale will conclude. So it is imperative to manage this stage to completion.
As most new builds are generally sold off plan it is key for developers to maintain contact and keep prospect enthused once they have made the decision to buy. It is also key to ensure that each buyers situation is understood for example:
- Buyer type (First time, upsizing, downsizing, investing)
- Has a property to sell or a fixed deadline to exchange/move in.
- Confidence – has buyer any doubts/concerns.
Developers can drive engagement with buyers for a number of reasons and should use appropriate communication channels. Whilst buyers expect digital efficiency not all communication is expected digitally and providing named contacts provides a personal touch that builds buyer confidence.
Buyer engagement could be:
- Request for information needed in sales completion process.
- Updates on development progress.
- Getting feedback on property options such as flooring, kitchen or bathrooms.
- Local area / community news.
- Developer news/activities e.g. charitable events or business updates.
Single customer view
It is important that developers understand and have a single view of ALL communication. This is to ensure that anyone handling the customer is aware of other conversations. This will also allow developers to manage the communications going out to a customer so not to overwhelm them. For example, if there have been several (possibly heated) email exchanges and calls in a week, it would not be a great time to send any further general updates.
This stage of the customer lifecycle involves many parties such as solicitors, banks and estate agents. There are a number of off the shelf solutions for managing sales progression such as YourKeys (Zoopla), Mio and Gazeal. These not only improve the ability to pass information securely but also help with workflows – reducing the time it takes to process a sale ( the average time for a sale to complete is 22 weeks).
Generally these solutions provide a login and access to their view of the sale process for each of the parties involved (seller: either the developer or assigned estate agent, buyer). Therefore, an important decision for developers is whether to they want/need to completely own the customer experience:
- Own entire experience
To own the experience the developer must develop their own screens. There is still the option to do this without having to create a database and support workflows if the provider supports API’s (Application Programming Interfaces), otherwise the developer will also need to create their own databases which can be costly and time consuming not only to develop but also to maintain.
- Have brand recognition
In this option the user will see the logo/branding of the developer as some solutions support whitelabelling. Branding is only part of an experience and developers should consider whether the solution supports “single sign on” so that buyers don’t have multiple log-ins for different parts of the customer lifecycle.
- Delegate experience
This is where the solution is just taken out of the box and presented with the providers branding / experience.
Managing sales progression is not only key from a sales perspective but also from an efficiency perspective. The average time to build a family home is 7 months and the average time it takes to sell a property is 5.5 months. Hence the process of managing interest to completion of a sale is a long time and should be managed and ideally measured. It is only by measuring processes that improvements can be made, whilst automation allows developers to handle more sales, consistently.
“Managing sales is not only key from a sales perspective but also from an efficiency perspective… the average time to sell a property is 5.5months“
Whilst Sales Progression solutions really target agents and developers, there are an increasing number of digital assistants that support the buyer directly. Some focus very much on first time buyers, for example FirstHomeCoach.co.uk. Others target buyers generally such as Lifetise.Com. Digital Assistants could be partnership opportunities for developers or simply as a source of inspiration or ideas when developing / buying their own solution.
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