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Thursday, October 11, 2018

How to: Offer a Great Home Shopper Experience!

It's Competitive Out There!

Website visits are up, sales office traffic is increasing, 2018 sales are good.

SalesTouch: Differentiating Your Brand with Information
While these stats suggest a positive market, the marked increase in customer touch points and a growing need to standout in a crowded marketplace creates a highly competitive environment.

It's a Consumer-Driven Environment

There's an increasing emphasis on providing a consumer "experience" -- which Retail Customer Experience tells us is set to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020.

But.. what adds up to make a great customer experience?

There's Information and then.. there's a Relationship

There's absolutely no doubt that home shoppers want to be able to (1) go and look at a product; (2) evaluate quality and (3) understand the product before buying.

Sales agents are an important part of the home shopper customer experience: they offer the direct, personal relationship surrounding the purchase. Importantly, a good agent, suggests Amy O'Connor, a sales trainer in Jeff Shore's organization, helps the home shopper achieve clarity and certainty regarding the purchase.  Your agent is going to want to determine the home shoppers needs and demonstrate how your product meets those needs.

Personalize the Experience

Today's home shopper -- Millennial or Boomer -- wants to examine alternatives, analyze the lifestyle and dream.  Listening is important -- as is providing tools to understanding the product

Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch: it offers a unique journey through the customer experience. 

What's your home shopper's particular need? Lower level master? Place for the baby grand? Close-by recreation? Home shoppers using SalesTouch take advantage of a unique process called narrowcasting: every home shopper can locate and examine the information that will help them make a decision.  In the order they want, at the time they want and in the desired detail. Throwing out a wide net, hoping it meets everyone's needs is no longer.

With so many consumers seeking the ability to gain clarity and information before they purchase, the race is on to offer personalized experiences.  SalesTouch provides that differentiating experience that makes your brand stand out!




Friday, October 5, 2018

Builders: Put Tech-based Self Service to Work for You!

Transitioning to Self-Service Takes Getting Used to But.. Benefits Emerge

Great article discussing the transition to a self-service model in Kiosk Marketplace. It's fairly common for organizations to be reluctant to change and adopting self-service is no different. Not everyone knows what's expected and there may be a few lumps in the road but..once the first step is taken, benefits start to emerge and self-service quickly becomes the new norm
WarrantyWatcher: Self-service at your fingertips!

Where are Self-Service Opportunities for Builders?

A recent Radial article notes self-service is one of the hottest trends in customer service.

Isn't homebuilding one industry known for the value of the one-on-one interaction? There's still a place for that type of interaction -- most particularly in the sales process. But.. there's a significant opportunity to transition to more of a self-service model in a builder's warranty/customer service organization.

And, that's because recent innovations in technology provide web-based, 24/7 access for homeowners, vendors and builders to data -- anywhere/anytime!

Consumers Want Interaction, Now!

An earlier Solutions Blog noted consumers love the idea of being able to quickly and easily meet their objectives from submitting a warranty request to checking status to being able to review their warranty history.

CPS' WarrantyWatcher software, with 24/7 web-based access for homeowners and vendors, offers an anywhere/anytime process to submit homeowner requests (including photos!), review open items, track status, close work orders and analyze trends.

And, it's efficient; no double entry, calling back and forth, voicemail or misplaced emails. Everything is in one, easily accessible, location.

Consumer Satisfaction Rates Self-Service Channels #1

Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of customer satisfaction. Thnk about it for a minute: does anyone snail mail or fax over a list of issues any longer? How recently have you called-in a service issue? Consumers love self-service because it reduces friction and provides answers immediately and consistently.

Self-service doesn't have to be (and, shouldn't be) some generic, one-size fits all process.

WarrantyWatcher's 24/7 Portal provides a personalized, omnichannel experience. In other words, the Portal fits into your business operations, seamlessly. Make it available from your website, skin it with your logo and colors, include photos of your team members. It's all about providing an appealing, easy-to-use solution that fits your homeowners needs!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to: Make Your Digital Signage Resonate

Today's customers -- especially those shopping for big ticket items such as homes and autos -- expect an experience that's on-demand and engaging. What can your digital signage project do to meet customer expectations and maximize impact?

Make Your Digital Signage Relevant to the Sale

Do you know your customers? Are you speaking their language? Boomers and Millennials, for example, are  different and unique in both their shopping and buying habits.  What is exciting and a reason to purchase for one may not be for the other. Boomers frequently want to comparison shop and examine purchase alternatives in detail.  Millennials work at warp speed, expect answers quickly and typically examined the alternatives before showing up in your office. 

Such differences don't mean your digital signage should be focused on a single group but... be aware of your audience when designing and be consistent in your approach.
Does Your Digital Signage Jump Above the Noise?

Get Above the Noise

On one hand, we don't really mean noise but... on the other, we do. Every location has noise -- people's voices, phones, construction activity and the like. Try to design your sales area so physical noise doesn't interrupt.

What we're really talking about, however, is visual distraction. Is your signage viewable as soon as a shopper enters? Is it visually engaging? Will it stop a visitor in their tracks? Are similar visuals distracting from the shopper's ability to focus on the digital presentation? 

Take a look at the Minto Harbour Isle interactive touchscreen image: doesn't it grab your attention and make you want to jump in and find out more? 

Make Sure Self-Serve is Enabled

It's frequently said today's buyer is in a rush and easily distracted. That may seem to be the case but keep in mind that today's expectations are shaped by other transactions. They're used to, for example, self-service via phone and website. 
Interactive Encourages Consumers to Get Engaged 

Shoppers want to jump into content and find answers. That doesn't mean sales agents are irrelevant; it does mean that shoppers will search for relevant information and then turn to salespeople for confirmation and the sale. 

Interactive digital content provides the on-demand, engaging customer experience that resonates with today's consumer. Interactive actively encourages shoppers to engage and locate their unique decision factors, on-demand. How would my home look with the optional study, where is the closest high school, are there yoga studios close by? 

Interested in exploring how CPS can help you create digital signage that resonates with your home shoppers, offering interactive content designed specifically to your target audience? Contact us here!



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Check Your Buyer Experience Gap: Then, Watch Referrals Grow!

In thinking about the takeaways from Jeff Shore's Sales Leadership Summit, realized there is probably an opportunity to analyze the buyer experience as well as that of the home shopper.

How to minimize the buyer experience gap?

Do You Have A Buyer Experience Opportunity Gap?

Extending some of Jeff's home shopper concepts a bit, 

-- What would be a great buyer experience after the home shopper signs the Purchase Agreement?
-- What is a buyer experience today in your organization?
-- The difference is your buyer experience opportunity gap!

Have you been asked to increase your buyer referral rate? Uncertain where to begin? Closing the buyer experience gap is a great place to start!

Keeping Buyers Informed is Key to Their Experience

Any chance you saw our Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.

Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most frequently read! It kicks-off with Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's Builder and Developer article statement: the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Lack of Information Creates Stress

Mirman asks us to think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  No question: both are stressful! Yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, in other words, feels comfortable in the dark. He notes the #1 buyers' Willingness to Refer a Friend is the builder's ability to keep the buyer informed of their status. 

Communication Doesn't Need to be Complicated

Critically, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication

Information is Communication

We'd like to suggest using software to gain the tools necessary to enhance your current communication process. CPS' software Portals take information developed by FieldCollaborate's construction users as well as WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and homeowners via the Internet. 

No additional work required: the construction schedule can be set as available for buyers to view. Warranty requests, status updates and appointments can be viewed via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime. 

Want to take things up a notch, improve the experience even more? Go the extra step and take stage-of-construction photos and attach them to your milestones. Add post-repair photos so your homeowner knows how things look before getting home from work. After all, your buyers have Portal access 24/7 so they're up-to-speed as the work is completed!

Referrals Are the Result of a Great Buyer Experience

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team communicates results internally -- and they're easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers!


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fine-tuning the Focus on Your Customer

We just spent several very informative days at the Jeff Shore Sales Leadership Summit 2018 in San Diego. Great group of sales/marketing professionals, lots of discovery, idea sharing and conversation!

2018: What's the Customer Experience Opportunity?

SalesTouch: Leaning-in for the details

The Summit focuses on new homes sales/marketing -- and this year Jeff asked participants to consider the state of the home buying experience.  After all, he asked:

  • What would be a truly awesome buying experience look like?
  • What are today's customers experiencing in your sales centers?
  • Do you see a gap? There's your "opportunity" for improvement!

2018: Let's Focus on the Prospect


What does your customer's experience look like -- from the minute they enter your door?

One takeaway from The Summit: your customers notice things! They really do pick-up on overall cleanliness, the sales agent's greeting and willingness to take a model tour, the value of collateral.  

Another takeaway: the home shopper is actively seeking information! Pricing, availability, floorplan details: they're details and valued by the home shopper.  

Consider this: many home shoppers walking into your sales office are experiencing your product (your brand, in other words) for the first time! They might have researched online but.. this is their first hands on experience. What are you doing to maximize your brand experience?

Make the Move to Consumer-First


During this same week, a new RetailCustomerExperience article suggested there should never be a barrier between a brand and the end consumer. Don't lose sight of your buyer, in other words! 

What are you doing to meet those customer needs (since you control and monitor the customer experience, after all!). Are you providing the information your consumer is seeking? What about an inviting and informative environment? Does it resonate with your buyer demographic?

Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch as it actively engages home shoppers from the minute they walk in the door.  Today's home shopper enters your door because they're actively looking to make a lifestyle change.  Provide the information they need and make it easy for them: floorplans, exterior elevations, sitemaps -- even a surrounding area discovery zone!

After all: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."





Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Builders: Get Interactive and Highlight Your Best Features

If you don't show it, you're not going to sell it!

That's a suggestion made by Lauren Shanesy in a recent BuilderOnline article regarding new home features and option/upgrade possibilities.

Step Up and Highlight the Possibilities

Shanesy notes, "Buyers in the market for a new home know what they want - comfort, convenience, and an overall better quality of life for their family."

What they don't know, frequently, is what you offer that will enable them to live that lifestyle!

And, Shanesy says, "Show them how a specific feature is a solution to a need that they have to live better, and they'll invest in those features.

Show These Lifestyle Features -- and You'll See Buyers!

What sort of "lifestyle features" are important to today's homebuyer -- whether Millennial or Boomer? You've no doubt seen many; we'll talk about two here with others to come in future blogs.

Open space layouts are number one! Buyers have moved away from the traditional kitchen, living room and formal dining area layout; instead, informal gathering spaces are the lifestyle of choice. 

This move is across the board -- Millennial, Boomer, Gen-X.

Marc Thee calls describes this as "non-compartmentalized living" and it is all about comfortable living.

One other floorplan-related favorite: pet-friendly living! 81% of a 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact study reported that animal-related considerations play a role in evaluating lifestyle environments.

Encourage Exploration

An interactive touchscreen presentation provides an introduction into lifestyle possibilities as soon as the home shopper walks into your door. Today's buyer is used to self service; 90% have already started exploring via your website. Today's home shopper is interested in and feels comfortable exploring visually engaging content. Encourage discovery!

Buyers want to know how floorplans work -- how they'll encourage comfortable living. Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch presentation above - interested in adding an outdoor kitchen? How about making the family room cozier by adding a fireplace?

Let your home shopper dream -- and create their new home! And, there's a drag 'n drop furniture feature to zero in on how this dream will live!

Visuals Tell the Lifestyle Story!

Remember the interest in pet amenities? Why not provide some visual focus to capture interest in  a pet-friendly neighborhood? 

Here's your opportunity to incorporate storytelling into your home shopper's journey!





Saturday, June 16, 2018

Improving the In-Person Digital Experience in Your Sales/Leasing Offices

Meredith Oliver just released a copy of her BDX Digital Transformation Summit talk, Bridging the Physical & Digital Worlds with Interactive Technology in Sales Centers.

CPS CRM provides data to populate this interactive map!

Home Shoppers Expect a Self-Service Experience

It's well worth a listen as it addresses why builders and developers need to add interactive technology to their sales/marketing process: their home shoppers expect a self-service process.

It's that simple!

Oliver provides an interesting research stat: 76% of consumers have a better experience when the sales person is armed with technology. And, those stats apply regardless of whether your home shopper is a Millennial or a 55+.

Yet, Oliver mentions, many sales agents don't take advantage of the tools to provide this enhanced buying experience!  CPS has been developing interactive touchscreen presentations for over 10 years and we have some ideas to share that will help you develop a more effective set of tools so your home shoppers will start the journey to dream and imagine their new home!

Build a Strong Foundation to Promote Effectiveness

Meredith touched on an important thought in her BDX talk: how many times have you walked into a business and the technology wasn't being used?

We'll be talking about ways to maximize the value of your interactive presentation's investment over several blogs; here we'll focus creating a foundation for an effective presentation -- that's used by your agents and home shoppers!

Corporate Collaboration Improves Efficiency and Buy-In

Oliver mentions she's a "tactician" implementing builder's dreams; CPS has particular experience in digital signage.  We've found 3 key items contribute to establishing the foundation for a successful self-serve experience:
  1. Collaborate on objectives and design: The 2018 Housing Leadership Summit focused on corporate collaboration. It doesn't make sense to drop a new tool into sales offices without considering cultural and behavioral elements.  The more people involved in the initial stages, the more buy-in and desire for success! And, you'll need to provide training to provide everyone with the details as to why you've incorporated interactives at the sales office and how to effectively utilize them in a sales presentation. 
  2. Build-in meaningful hardware management: We've all run into situations where we've heard: our system is down! Yet, you can take steps to make those days few and far between: automated hardware management so Maria doesn't turn off the system and Ted doesn't know how to turn it back on; remote monitoring systems so a tech team can analyze issues remotely and make changes long-distance, as well.  Get rid of the housekeeping, in other words!
  3. Incorporate integration: In a recent Builder article, Hyphen Solutions' Felix Vasquez suggests that automated connectivity results in a more efficient home builder production environment.  Why not have your CRM or inventory management system provide unit status and pricing info (vs. having a sales agent manually input)? Maximize tools already in-house to provide consistent information without manual intervention