Saturday, March 25, 2017

Waiting in Line: Customer Perception is Everything

None of us likes waiting in line -- whether at the DMV, the market, amusement parks or sporting events.  And, today, long wait times can be splashed across social media at any time.  That's in addition to lost profits when the customer balks or reneges and leaves the point of sale location.

Customers Can Relax Knowing What is Happening!
Every retailer and entertainment venue constantly evaluates how to improve the customer experience -- and improved line (or queue) management provides an immediate and long-lasting impact.

That's because effective line management technology offers more than just a shorter wait experience. Automated line management provides at least 4 significant business benefits:
  1. Wait time tools provide control -- Long-standing studies indicate average wait times can be reduced 10-30% with line management technology.  Lots of "fewer than 10 items" customers today?  Using automated management tools, store management can quickly realign registers to better serve those customers while reducing the number of "full service" registers.
  2. Customers relax during the wait -- Customers are more quickly and accurately directed to an open location as compared to "manually" guessing which station is available or casually strolling towards a register.
  3. Customers appreciate the perception of fairness -- Two factors impact customer perceptions regarding lines: perceived wait time and the issue of fairness. Customers typically over-estimate the amount of wait time -- that's probably human nature. Providing an automated, call forward system not only efficiently directs customers to the next available register but encourages them to think the wait isn't as long as it actually is. Customers like knowing what is going on -- so seeing the next available register is beneficial even if it isn't their register!  And, people appreciate being treated fairly; an automated system is perceived as providing similar service to all.
  4. Expanded impulse purchase opportunities await -- Whether an automated system operates a single, serpentine line or multiple, register-specific lines, the opportunity exists for expanding impulse purchase opportunities.  First, the business is regulating how and where the waiting zones are located. And, customers are less stressed waiting so they're more likely to review offerings and make impulse purchases.  It's also possible to advertise and encourage such purchases through messaging on line management monitors. 
Interested in finding out how automated line management can improve your customer satisfaction levels and provide additional business benefits, too?  Talk to us about CPS QuikLine -- an automated line management system providing call-forward technology with easy-to-use management tools and straightforward hardware components.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Walkable Neighborhoods: Both Millennials & Boomers Love 'Em!

While traditional suburban communities continue to attract, urban environments are opening new home neighborhoods -- and attracting buyers! Both Millennials and Boomers are considering and buying in areas that previously wouldn't have offered new construction.

Use SalesTouch to Take a Virtual Walk About!
One of these neighborhood's key features (or, you could think, amenity) is walkability. There's even a new term: walkable urban places (sometimes referred to as WalkUps -- but completely different than multi-story buildings from the early-mid 1900's!!).

WalkUps are defined, in a June 2016 BuilderOnline article by Lauren Shanesy, as a development with substantially higher density, mixed-use product, emerging and new product types and a variety of transportation options.

Following are several marketing ideas you might consider using with a  WalkUp community: none are too complicated or expensive yet provide good touch points for your home shoppers:
  1. Highlight Transportation Options: Home shoppers in all demographics love the idea of reducing their reliance on a car. Residents in WalkUps spend less on transportation so why not highlight options for your home shoppers?  Provide maps, schedules -- even signage from your local metro.  While Millennials and Boomers are key demographics for the new urban community, reduced transportation costs appeal to moderate-income home shoppers, as well.
  2. Offer Walk Abouts: One of the reasons WalkUps are popular is easy access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" guide highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to most of your home shoppers? Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore (literally or virtually) and see themselves living the experience! Drones are making aerial photos so much more affordable -- take a look at Richmond above and consider using this type of visual introduction to the neighborhood.
  3. Shine a Light on Educational Institutions: Washington, DC is considered the second highest ranked WalkUp and over 50% have B.A. degrees.  One of the urban neighborhood attributes frequently mentioned by Boomers is access to educational opportunities.  These don't have to be just colleges and universities. Consider adult education and interest-focused centers, too. Look for places like innovative yarn shops, photography studios, art centers.  Let your visitors know what's in the neighborhood with an easy-to-read map focused on neighborhood learning opportunities!
Go one step further and add an interactive touchscreen system to tell your WalkUp story. CPS' SalesTouch offers the aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); can't you see your buyers virtually exploring your neighborhood?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Homebuilders: Keeping Buyers in the Loop is #1 Referral Driver

Eliant, the home building industry's largest firm specializing in managing the consumer experience, notes through a recent Builder & Developer article, that the single largest referral driver is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction!

FieldCollaborate's Portal: Buyer Status Updates 24/7
That statistic is part of a very interesting article by Bob Mirman, Eliant's founder/CEO, noting similarities between hospitals and home builders.

At first, you might think such a comparison would be silly; however, there are a striking similarities.  Key: patients and home buyers are justifiably anxious, worried, confused and scared as they're involved in an unfamiliar environment. Not for the same reason but.. still concerned.  Mirman suggests empathy goes a long way towards making everyone feel comfortable.

Mirman's second point is the value of contact when delays are encountered -- or anticipated.  He suggests asking: do your employees proactively reach out?

It's the third and most critical point that is striking almost in its simplicity -- and one that is shared between many customer-facing businesses -- the impact of status updates. Mirman really appreciated the daily calls from an assigned staff internist.  He knew he'd get the latest information and didn't need to worry about voicemails, missed calls and miscommunication through a 3rd party.

Think about your home builder operations: how do you keep buyers up-to-date? We'd like to suggest taking a look at CPS' FieldCollaborate with its Portal.  Your buyers have access, 24/7 and in real-time, to stage of construction photos and schedules.  It's their "piece of the pie" automatically generated from use of FieldCollaborate's construction scheduling application.  Tie it to your website and other than taking photos, no extra work is needed on your part.  Status updates are automatic, always visible and available 24/7 -- on their desktop, laptop, phone or tablet! 

Referrals can be a key sales driver; we've just learned that status updates are the #1 key referral driver!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

More on Millennials & Housing: Location Valued Most

Have you seen the most recent Builder & Developer issue? Great article by Meyers Research: The Perennial Millennial!
Millennials value Location most - SalesTouch can tell your story!

As we've noted in earlier blogs: millennials will shape the housing market for years to come. This group may have delayed home buying beyond previous generations but...they're ready to buy!

Meyers suggests that we knew home buying was a priority but..55% want to purchase within the next 5 years!  An even more striking statistic: 25 million plan to purchase within the next 3 years!

There's frequently  debate regarding what is most valued by this demographic -- square footage, open floor plans, amenities, location .. the list goes on.  Meyers reports that location is first in their list of priorities -- followed by price and outdoor space.

How to tell a location story effectively in your sales offices?  We'd like to suggest SalesTouch -- CPS' interactive touchscreen system.  Present your surrounding area -- and let your home shopper determine what is most important.  Schools? Shopping/dining? Recreation? Or, just the variety of opportunities?

A Sales & Marketing Ideas article titled Engaging Today's Home Buyer with Technology that Works points out, "Regardless of age, geography or economic status, today's home buyer is empowered by an unprecedented level of access to choice and information. In other words, your home buyer operates with a belief that virtually anything they want is at their fingertips!" We can help tell your location story by touch!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Customer-Centric Retail Model is Key

Have you had a chance to check out the recent Retail Customer Experience article regarding the need to develop and sustain a customer-centric focus -- regardless of your industry?

CPS' Social Media Wall: Engaging and understanding customers
Author Micah Friedman, with Cognizant, suggests developing new business and operating models to better deliver on customer needs and desires.

Businesses aren't silos any longer (if they ever were). Rental car companies, as an example, need to consider themselves as being in the transportation business and recognize the validity of competition from Uber, Lyft, SmartCar and others that aren't traditional rental car competitors.

What's critical, Friedman suggests, is considering multiple ways of engaging customers with a richer, customizable and frictionless experience.

One focus point is optimizing Social Media. Here's an opportunity to understand customers better (by evaluating their tweets and posts, for example) as well as providing a mechanism to shape how customers perceive them and their offerings.

Take at look at CPS' Social Media Wall in a new master plan community information center.  It's visually welcoming and designed to engage visitors from the moment they walk in -- delivering traditional marketing copy and community images side-by-side with consumer generated content.  Have a special event planned? Assign a unique hashtag, start posting information about the event and, at the event, ask attendees to submit pictures and comments.  Result: a shared,  creative process fostering an ongoing conversation!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Home Construction: Velocity and Profitability

Are you on the construction side of the new homes industry? Great recent Builderonline article by Mary Salmonsen; you can read it here.

Shifting focus to velocity can enhance profitability
Salmonsen highlights one of SAI Consulting Fletcher L. Groves' concerns: the under-consideration of project velocity in builders' business processes.

Or, to paraphrase a comment by John McManus mentioned in a previous Solutions blog: builders need to work with greater velocity or... learn the pain.

In other words, rather than putting a laser focus on individual lot margins, apply some of that attention, data collection and reporting to the amount of time required to build that home. That's cycle time.

Of course, cycle time doesn't live in a vacuum -- and can't be measured in the abstract, either.  Do you have a published schedule -- and do you track progress against it? Does everyone look to a specific schedule or do you have multiples floating within the company?  If there's one, not only can you measure cycle time but you're able to provide consistent, reliable schedules to your vendors.  They're able to better plan and their planning helps them become more consistent, efficient and profitable. That's a win/win!

Are you able to report on which vendors show up on time, or have the highest level of rework, consistently have safety issues, always fail field inspections? That information helps shape a long range vision of your construction cycle and helps deliver consistently better results.  And, it should be available relatively easily and consistently to be effective.

We'd like to suggest CPS'  FieldCollaborate as a software tool to help you develop consistent schedules and measurement tools.  You're able to quantify and measure quality items, delivery times, subcontractor consistency, safety assessments and punch items.  It all helps highlight factors impacting your construction cycle and allows you to be proactive about the next lot, phase and community -- and design for long-term profitability.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Home Marketing: Put Walkability in Your Buyer's Sights

Did you happen to see the recent Builder article, How to Make a Home More Appealing to Millennial Buyers? Redfin's Whitney Bennett suggested several ways to make a home more Millennial friendly.

SalesTouch highlights your community's walkability!
In an earlier CPS Solutions blog (you can read it here), we mentioned the author's first sales/marketing point: Create an Open Floor Plan and highlighted how CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch, with its mix/match floor plan and drag 'n drop furniture features helps buyers imagine and design their new home consistent with their interests.

Another Bennett suggestion is to Tout Your Community's Walkability.  What's particularly noteworthy about this idea is that the Boomer demographic is also becoming interested in the livability features associated with new urbanism and considering moves away from the suburbs.

SalesTouch is particularly effective in showing buyers that your community is "close to everything" of interest: shopping, dining, recreation, transportation. Interactive touchscreen systems are particularly good at narrowcasting -- allowing home shoppers to focus on those items of particular interest.  Are you an Arts and Culture fan? Just as easy to see the museums, concert venues and studios in the neighborhood!

One extra benefit of highlighting walkability: Bennett suggests each point on your community's walkability score can can increase a home's price by an additional $3,250!