Customer Lifecycle :
In our series on the new build property development customer life cycle, 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
Looking at the volume developers annual reports it is clear many have an emphasis on developing “communities” not just developing homes. Some will facilitate local consultation to get buy-in from the existing surrounding community. Some will organise events for their sites after completion.
From a buyer’s perspective it is not just a home they are purchasing, it is a lifestyle and part of that lifestyle are their neighbours and local amenities. Anything the developer can do to facilitate buyers getting familiar with the surroundings and getting to know their neighbours can only be a positive action.
As consumers many of us are users of social media platforms and understand that this is now one of the preferred approaches to staying in touch and communicating with friends and family. Platforms like FaceBook and WhatsApp also allow “groups” or “communities” to be created that allow anyone with a shared interest to communicate. There are many informal groups created and focused on property developers. These allow people to share and interact information as well as air and get guidance on issues.
These groups form because there is a need to communicate and share information and as such developers have some choices to make:
- Ignore communities – this potentially can be damaging to the brand if their developer is seen to be ignoring this need.
- Monitor groups and take part to show support, however, it can be difficult to monitor when new groups are formed and manage the quantity of posts.
- Provide their own platform for online communities.
Solutions like our Innova platform already allow developers to take a proactive role in communities and answer the needs of buyers. Communications in online communities could be provided in a few ways:
- Direct one to one – similar to Whatsapp chat and just between developer and a single household.
- Broadcast – from the developer to an entire site or selected properties, this is a great way of quickly and easily sharing information e.g. about progresses on future development phases or local information.
- Open Forum – conversations initiated either by developer or a household to the whole community.
Open Forums often worry developers as they are seen as a vehicle to “air the dirty laundry”. However, if they are not provided by developers then buyers will continue to use other platforms like FaceBook and WhatsApp which developers may or may not have visibility of.
The decision is very much with developers whether they truly want to build and support communities or just build and sell houses. Nevertheless, the internet is bringing increased transparency in almost every aspect of consumers lives and social media platforms further enhance this transparency. Hence the choice is very much whether a developer can afford to risk reputation online or use it to their advantage to show they truly care.
“Looking at the volume developers annual reports it is clear many have an emphasis on developing “communities” not just developing homes.“
In the BuyToLet space “tenant engagement” is a trend that most developers are following with solutions that encompass direct and community communication. However many go further than just digital engagement and organise “community events”. These can be simply social gatherings in a communal park or blocks that have social spaces to movie nights or outdoor exercises classes. Often these events are free but sometimes are also chargeable.
Facilitating physical events is a great way of reinforcing the “community” brand value that most of the largest developers have. They can also be a good way to create brand advocacy especially if the site has plans for further phases of development.
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