Customer Lifecycle :
1. Homes are going digital … what about property developers?
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
Accelerated by a global pandemic 2020 has been an unprecedented year. In the background, customers have increasingly turned to digital when physical options were not available. For property developers this meant distribution of information digitally, virtual viewings and online support for purchase and handover.
Understanding and managing the customer experience online has never been so important than now. This will only increase in the future as digital proves its effectiveness in making customers’ lives easier and as the next generation of buyers expect digital experiences as the norm.
Research by wearesocial.com identifies how extensive our use of digital technology is in the UK. Some key statistics from the research highlights from a UK population of 68m:
78% (53m) are active social media users (this grew by 4.4% since 2020)
96% have a smartphone (1% have non smartphones)
96% have access to the internet (89% use the internet using their phone)
Internet users average 6hrs 26m internet usage per day, of which 1hr 49m is on social media. The top website used is Google (search) with 31% of users now performing searches through voice.
9.58m homes now have smart devices, a market worth £3.8bn broken down further as:
- £1.14bn Smart home control & connectivity
- £1.01bn Smart home appliances (washing machines, fridge etc)
- £433.6m Smart home security management
- £491.4m Smart home entertainment devices
- £461m Smart home comfort and lighting
- £283.2m Smart home energy management
The value of the smart home market is set to grow by 10.8% year on year, whilst penetration is forecasted at a growth of 13.8%
Bottom Line: Consumers and their homes are increasingly going digital !
As customers move online there is also rapid growth in online resources, these have started simply with content about every aspect of buying, selling, renting or owning a property. From checklists to detailed guides there is a huge volume of content both in words and video’s.
Beyond content there are apps and calculators that also seek to assist. They cover every aspect of property from finding a plumber to redesigning a kitchen.
Now a third level of help is emerging, these combine content and application to provide “Digital Assistance”. The difference between an app and assistant is that an assistant uses data to intelligently make personal recommendations or take action for you. These assistants can be presented as an app, or increasingly as chat/voice bots that you interact with conversationally close to how you might interact with a person. The key advantage with an assistant is that the conversation can be initiated by either the user or the assistant. Today there are assistants like MeetParker that handle property queries for estate agents and AskHomey for managing a home. In the future most of us will have digital assistants for most aspects of our lives from managing our health or wealth to managing our property (homes, cars etc).
The move towards full automation, like self-driving cars, is a logical conclusion to the maturity of customers using technology to make life easier and better. We are moving from Self-Service to Be-Served.
PropTech To The Rescue
Investors have been backing technology companies digitising all aspects of the property market. These companies form an investment sector called PropTech.
According to Unissu, the UK is the leader among European countries when it comes to the total amount of proptech funding, leaving the rest of the continent in the dust. As of June 2019, “over $5bn was invested in 805 UK proptech companies (this is 5 times greater than Proptech investment in Germany).
This paper highlights only a handful of proptechs supporting specific stages of the customer lifecycle. More detailed analysis of a broad range of providers will be part of a future series of articles. Nevertheless it should be noted there is support for all stages of the customer lifecycle today and there are many advantages to buying a solution rather than trying to build and maintain your own (see our paper on Build vs Buy for further information).
“Consumer expectations have shifted to digital and that all markets are responding, including the property market“
“Software is eating the world”
This quote is from the founder of the first graphical web browser and now venture capitalist, Marc Andreessen. Essentially he was saying that software was becoming a part of everything including physical products not associated with technology.
It is clear that consumer expectations have shifted to digital and that all markets are responding, including the property market. Technology is automating and impacting every part of our lives.
There are significant opportunities for property developers to use technology to manage the entire customer journey for buying a property. The big decision for the largest is whether they build their own solution or buy one. With existing IT teams in place it will be tempting to build their own. However technology has changed and continues to evolve at a pace. Continuing to try and keep pace is a risky strategy as many IT projects still suffer from failure to deliver or at best dramatically over running in time and cost.
Add to this that competition in property development is not differentiated by technology and as such there is even less case to build your own solution. Add to this that the total cost of development and ownership could be more than ten times the cost of a 3rd party cloud solution. Hence a development business case will be hard to justify.
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