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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

Monday, June 11, 2018

Get Digital Benefits (and then some!) with a Social Media Wall

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

Do you recognize that well-known Will Rogers saying? Debbie Wilson-Dewitt suggests, in a recent DigitalSignageToday article, that it makes sense to apply it to digital walls, as well.  

Digital Signage Helps Your Brand Stand Out

Wilson-Dewitt says digital walls are intended to create a strong impression -- and that's consistent with the benefits associated with digital signage.  You're able to capture customer attention immediately and promote your message and content.

Social Media Wall at Wendell Falls
A Social Media Wall Engages, Entertains & Starts Conversations, too

Digital Amplifies Visual

Digital signage -- with its captivating color and graphic motion -- is typically a head-turner.  It grabs attention and provides a unique customer experience.

Did you know that a recent I Am Omnichannel study reports that 70% of customers think digital signage is entertaining? 

Social Media Enhances Community

CPS offers Social Media Wall -- a unique, ever-changing combination of digital signage, traditional marketing copy/images and social media content.  The walls offer an engaging focal point at locations that see a lot of traffic such as sales and leasing information centers.

How Can You Take a Wall Up a Notch?

Apart from size, what else needs to be considered when thinking about effective digital signage and a wall?

  • Size matters, initially; but content keeps people engaged. That's where social really pays off!
  • Walls can greet as well as provide information
  • Use walls to communicate and reinforce branding
  • Answer questions through wall content and images; it keeps audiences engaged, longer.
  • Be Sure the wall is designed for your audience!

Take Advantage of a Value-Add!

Walls, says Wilson-Dewitt, are an incredible value-add and any kind of organization will benefit from one. You're able to take advantage of previously developed content, images and messaging -- and present them in a unique, digital format that will attract all sectors of your audience!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

How to: Make Your Digital Signage More Effective

Are you a digital signage fan -- or evaluating digital signage as a part of a newly energized marketing program?

Designing to Maximize Engagement!
Interested in reviewing a few tactics to improve your digital signage program? We're not even 50% of the way through 2018 so... there's time to evaluate and plan for success!

Make Sure You've Identified Your Audience

It makes sense that even digital signage can't be everything to everyone.

There's no benefit to repeating a message or including dynamic video in the hopes that your audience will accept it. Be sure to design and build for your target audience -- their wants and needs relative to your product.

Here's an example: a new home sales office (or, a multifamily leasing office). Home shoppers are looking not only for a new home because their family is growing (or shrinking) -- they're interested in the details that will motivate the purchase such as features (does the Master Bath include a Jacuzzi?), options and upgrades (outdoor kitchen, den in lieu of bedroom) and whether their bedroom furniture fits into the new master suite.

Then, you want to be sure to address the other factors impacting their purchase decision. What's going on in the neighborhood? How about schools? Are there parks and playgrounds near for the children?  Answers to the ancillary items build their level of interest. 

Have You Determined Your Objective?

Everyone wants their audience to engage with digital signage.  But, there's another objective out there for your project; do you know what it is?

Let's take a look at the home builder idea mentioned above -- that's CPS' target audience for the interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch. We like to say builders have several objectives with their sales office touchscreen system: engage, inform and kick-off the dream.

Basically, SalesTouch guides the home shopper's journey towards a home purchase. The touchscreen engages prospects from the minute they walk into the sales office -- it's colorful, typically provides an interesting initial view and large enough to attract attention. Then, the home shopper is presented with choices: explore the neighborhood, find out more about the particular community and examine specific floor plans and their options/upgrades.

The last objective is to encourage the dream of home ownership: select a floor plan, mix/match structural options and upgrades, drag and drop furniture -- take that standard plan and make it your own, in other words! 

Make Sure You Are Designing for Engagement

Digital signage varies from small monitors to large touchscreens -- with video walls in there, too!

What platform are you utilizing and how do you maximize its potential? As an example: we've found home shoppers really like large touchscreens mounted into a slightly angled table. They're able to step in and get close -- some people lean in, occasionally, there are special purse and drink stands. It's all about making your audience feel comfortable and exploiting the physical hardware as appropriate.

Regardless of the physical platform, focus on grabbing audience attention -- right away.  Remember: visuals are key as they spark the imagination. And, we're back to kicking-off the dream!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Home Buyers Want Convenient & Quick Warranty Service

A recent Radial article notes, in the age of Amazon, consumers have sky-high expectations. And that's regardless of industry -- customer service is a key differentiator at time of purchase as well as after-sale referrals.

Enhance Your Customer Service Ops with Self-Service!

Home Buyers Look for Personalized Customer Service

Homebuyers aren't any different than other consumers when thinking about their post-closing warranty service.  

Consumers want convenience and quick issue resolution -- in addition to an environment that is proactive with personalized service.

Self-Service Functionality is Hot!

Self-service is reported as one of the hottest trends in customer care. 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.

Technology Helps Builders Meet Buyer Expectations

Innovations and advancements in technology enable builders to meet these expectations. Take a look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher software  -- particularly the Portal -- as an example. Homeowners are able to log-in, 24/7, to submit requests. No more waiting until Monday morning! And, they're able to check status at any time - no more calling, voicemail or missed calls.

The same Portal self-service is available for subcontractors. Although formal work orders are sent via email, it's always possible to log-in to the Portal, pick-up work orders, review associated drawings and photos and confirm availability.

Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of consumer satisfaction. Consider this, for a minute: does anyone snail mail or fax over anything, anywhere any longer?  How about calling?  Consumers love self-service because it reduces friction and provides answers immediately and consistently.

Go Omnichannel!

And, the Portal provides for a personalized, omnichannel experience, as well.  In other words, the Portal can fit 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 winning and sustaining loyalty.

Referrals Are Yours When Service Exceeds Expectations!

Remember: the #1 referral reason for homeowner referrals is keeping buyers informed during construction and post-closing.