Thursday, November 30, 2017

Builders: Get Added Value from Your Buyer Surveys

Rating our experiences... that's a concept that has started-up brand new companies and entered almost everyone's life in the last 10 years.  There used to be pen-and-paper questionnaires.  Today, we have Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Survey Monkey ... even primary care physicians are asking for feedback!

 Get Proactive: Engage buyers mid-stream with surveys
Traditionally, many homebuilders took advantage of post-closing surveys.  Pen-and-paper has migrated to web-based. Some builders utilize results to evaluate sales agents and construction managers.

We'd like to suggest surveys be just a part of your ongoing communications process.

Doesn't it seem a bit abrupt to ask "How did we do?" out of the blue for such a major event as a home purchase -- although it can make sense for a dinner out or hotel stay.  There have probably been many "great job" and "could have been better" events from the first visit to the sales office through closing. 

Finding those mid-stream results -- and managing around them -- not only engages your buyer and enhances the customer experience but allows the builder to manage people and process on a more timely basis.

Earlier CPS Solutions blogs talked about initiating and maintaining the communications process during the construction process.  Keeping your buyers informed; providing stage-of-construction photos -- CPS' FieldCollaborate offers a Buyer Portal just for that reason.  Why not schedule a survey after the first Construction meeting?

Now, your buyers are involved in the feedback process and engaged to the level needed to provide meaningful feedback.  It's no longer a perfunctory "How Did We Do?" at closing; you've initiated full-scale dialogue. And, that's the type of communication that will generate referrals!

Find out how we can help you integrate SurveyMonkey into CPS' construction and warranty software!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Put a Focus on Pets to Grab Millennial Home Shopper Interest!

Have you seen the results of a recent SunTrust Mortgage survey: 33% of Millennials purchased their new home to have more room (i.e., better space or a yard) for a dog?

We noted, in earlier Blogs, Mary Cook's comments in Builder Developer, that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. They're interested in community, walkable neighborhoods, flexible floorplans and green features.

And, a recent Builder article suggests: it's a smart bet to include pet-friendly features -- and to actively market them, as well.  

Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch presentation highlighting Hounds Hollow at the Tehaleh masterplan community in Washington. It's a key feature associated with the Parks & Trails portion of their interactive neighborhood exploration.

How would you feel, as a pet-owner, if you were shopping for a home at this new home community? Welcome, encouraged, confident you'd find other pet owners!

There's a lot of discussion regarding what Millennials are considering when looking for a home. Of course, square footage, location and amenities are factors. One that you might not have considered: Millennials love their dogs! And, pets are a key component in the home shopping decision!

Engage these home shoppers as soon as they enter your sales office with an interactive touchscreen presentation! They want to explore how your homes meet their lifestyle expectations -- and what better way than offering interactive floorplans with drag n' drop furniture that offers design opportunities at their fingertips? And, you have a great opportunity to introduce your pet features, as well!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

We're All in the Customer Service Business!

Not that long ago, many organizations didn't necessarily think they were in the customer service business. Doctors, for example.  They treated illness, set bones and the like. Home builders, possibly.  Their business: homebuilding.
Get Proactive! Offer 24/7 communication channels

Today, with the advent of social media and culture changes, interaction with customers needs to be top of every organization's mind. Whether its Twitter, Facebook or an organization's own web page, customers have plenty of opportunities to speak their mind about product, service, followup... just about everything!

And, satisfying expectations for "good service" has expanded, as well.  It used to be a "thank you" card was considered thoughtful and enough.

Today, a continued conversation needs to accompany a homebuyer from purchase to closing and throughout the warranty period. BuilderIQ notes that buyers "start to regret" the purchase when they don't hear from their builder during the post-sale process. That's a fairly radical thought!

One solution: get proactive! Setup processes and systems that enable your buyers (and homeowners) to engage with you in a consistent, straightforward manner. Timing is everything: when an item is top of mind, people want to be able to communicate!  And, communication doesn't have to mean conversation.

Take a look at CPS' FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher Portals as examples of proactive and effective customer service. Are you a homebuyer that doesn't live in the immediate area but is interested in seeing the latest stage of construction images? How about a schedule summary or a list of selected options? It's all there -- available via desktop, phone, tablet!

Maybe you're a homeowner with a disturbing leak, leak, leak in the master bathroom shower. No need to wait until 8am, Monday to contact your builder's customer service department. Log-on Sunday night and submit your warranty request -- and then check status on Monday when the office opens.

And, remember: the primary driver of new home buyer referrals is a homebuyer satisfied with their builder's communication process!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's In Your Tool Belt to Help Build-in Quality?

Interesting MultiFamily Executive article highlighting the growing demand for new housing and resultant labor constraint issues. The demand for labor has emerged as an issue for both single- and multi-family builders, nationwide.

FieldCollaborate
Quality Inspection Checklist
Do you know the last time builders reported such widespread labor shortages was just before 2001?

The demand for labor has forced the use of "B" and "C" quality trades, which will result in more issues and increases the demand for more oversight. Without a well-qualified and experienced labor force, builders are facing increasing quality issues. Field Managers were already being asked to produce more; how best to produce more with better quality?

Technology should be top-of-mind as a way to consistently survey, assess and respond to quality issues. And, mobile technology allows Field Managers to work directly from the job site -- yet remain in contact with vendors and the corporate office.

Quality issues can be observed and reported for followup as punch items and builders are able to create Quality Inspection templates aimed at catching issues as early and consistently as possible.

One big gain with mobile in the quality world is real-time reporting. Take a look at CPS' FieldCollaborate. Field Managers are able to record a quality issue, automatically email the vendor, post the issue to the Portal (including pictures) for vendor review and then close the ticket when resolved. All from their truck or construction trailer.

And, there's also the ability to analyze data over time -- in real time. Are today's problems consistent with issues last week or last month? Is this vendor consistently late or slow to complete tasks? All of that information is available on the mobile device while dealing with today's quality issue.

FieldCollaborate also provides scheduling, punch and safety tools -- as well as a homebuyer information Portal to keep builders in 24/7 communication with their clients.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Take a Deep Dive: Millennial's Interest in Community

Mary Cook, writing in Builder Developer, noted that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. Her firm is known for creating innovative environments targeted to market demands; the article focused on 7 Ways to Design Residential Developments for Millennials. 
Take a look: there's community outside the door!
Cook notes that many Millennials telecommute -- meaning there isn't too much face-time with co-workers and managers. The typical, work-related social interactions that many of us are used to (lunch, sports teams, etc.) aren't available.  Like  many new home buyers, they're probably relocating (even if a relatively short distance).

As a result, they're looking for their home (both specific and general) to provide relationships. That desire for adding relationship possibilities is driving the popularity of amenity-rich communities offering "social points" such as community pools, tech centers and fitness centers that encourage residents to gather and engage.

Do you recall an earlier Solutions Blog about walkable neighborhoods (or Walkups)? Consider using your location as a way to encourage thinking of the new neighborhood in terms of benefits from a social interaction perspective -- as well as walkability.

Offer Walk Abouts: One of a walkable neighborhood's driving forces is access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" map highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to your home shoppers? Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore (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.

Shine a Light on Educational Institutions: Here's another opportunity for introducing a new way of thinking about community! And, these opportunities don't need to be just traditional colleges and universities. Think outside the box and consider adult education and interest-focused centers, too. Look for places like innovative yarn shops, photography studios and art centers.  Encourage your home shoppers to explore neighborhood learning opportunities and imagine the opportunities available. Let an interactive touchscreen presentation tell your community story -- from amenities to neighborhood "hot spots" to all sorts of educational possibilities.

Take a look at a CPS' SalesTouch  presentation's aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); can't you see your buyers virtually exploring and enjoying their new community?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Celebrating Duty, Honor, Country This Veterans Day!

Veterans Day gives us all an excellent opportunity to lift up and honor those who served our country -- as well recognize and thank those currently serving.

Duty, Honor, Country Touring the US!
Traditionally, here at CPS, we also take time to recognize and thank members of the CPS family who have served our country in the armed forces.

First, a shout out to Bob Musa's son, Mike. He graduated US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp in 2016 and he's now at his permanent duty station. Congratulations, Mike; we're so proud of you!

Remembering the service of:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force

Bob's father, Robert Musa (US Marines, retired & yes; that's 2 generations!)
Chris' father, Michael Lott (US Navy, retired)
Michelle's father, Robert DuBois (US Air Force)
Michelle's husband, Jerry Stone (US Navy)
Sean's father, Chris Miyazaki (US Air Force, retired)
Troy's brother, John (US Air Force)
Zoe's father, Charles Miller and brother, Wilson Miller (both: US Army)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Home Builders: Interested in a Referral Win?

Had a chance to ready an earlier Solutions BlogHomebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
Communication is the Driver!

Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most read posts as it summarizes Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's comments in Builder and Developer, that the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, basically, likes to be in the dark.  And, with today's social media, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

The same can be said for good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication! CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Millennial Marketing: Highlight Your Features in Language They Use!

Did you see the recent Sacramento Bee article: Elk Grove millennials buck national home ownership trend in a big way?

Author Thomas Oide cites marketwatch.com's studies indicating Elk Grove (a suburb south of Sacramento) is the No. 1 city in the country for homeownership for those under 35.  That's the Millennial demographic everyone is focused on!
Millennials favs: large, open spaces, multi-functional rooms -- check!

Smartasset.com attributed the high rate of Millennial homeownership to the strong Sacramento job market (finally!) and relative proximity to San Francisco. Note: median home value is $390,000.

Not every community has the San Francisco factor available for their marketing campaign, however. Builderonline offers suggestions for the rest of us in Redfin's Whitney Bennett's How to Make a Home More Appealing to Millennial Buyers.

We'll focus on Millennial-friendly Suggestion #1 and follow-up with others, soon: Create an Open Floor Plan.

Bennett says most younger buyers are interested in large, open spaces with fewer walls and partitions. Why? They like entertaining in large spaces and are also interested in multi-functional rooms.

How to market that open floor plan? Let's look at a recent CPS SalesTouch installation at Cornerstone Homes' new Agave community in North County San Diego. You'll notice an open first floor area as well as a second floor flex space.

Now, image your home shopper going one step further and interacting with the floor plan, using the drag and drop furniture feature, finding the floorplan meets their lifestyle objectives!  As a builder, your're letting your home shopper dream and create their new living space!

And, it's in a "language" they understand -- interactive technology. This is the generation that grew up with iPhones and iPads, after all.

Encourage your Millennial home shopper to create their lifestyle using interactive tools -- moving away from the standard brochure plan by mixing/matching structural choices, adding furniture, marking up the plan -- and making it their own!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Referrals Can Be Your Least Expensive Source of Traffic!

Did you see our earlier Solutions BlogHomebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
You Don't Need Conversation -- Just Communication!

Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most read posts as it summarizes Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's comments in a Builder and Developer article, that the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, basically, likes to be in the dark.  And, with today's social media, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

The same can be said for good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication.  CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.  No additional work required: the construction schedule is available for buyers to view. Warranty requests, status and appointments can be seen, as well, via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!

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

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team communicates results within the organization -- and are easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Are You Getting Your Story On?!?

Robert Rose, with the Content Marketing Institute, asks: Do brands create stories? Do stories create brands?
Yao Xiao of Image Think documents the storytelling conversation!

Rose goes on to say storytelling has never been "hotter" than today -- although stories have been picked up, passed on and shared throughout history.

Today, storytelling principles and success factors are closely related with word-of-mouth, social sharing, social media, brand perception and tcontent marketing. Yet, Rose suggests, storytelling is also often misunderstood, both from a content marketing and branding perspective.

We're going to be talking about how to create stories, nurture them, and encourage them in subsequent blogs. We'll try to work out the difference between what Rose calls boring and souless content and stories that engage.  
A connected content strategy where people are key!

After all, don't good stories compel people to change?  Isn't the very essence of a home purchase a desire for change?  

Several CPS staffers just spent time attending the 2017 Jeff Shore Leadership Summit -- and storytelling was definitely top of mind in many of the discussions.  Take a look at a summary photo generated from trying to examine a homebuilder customer story -- there's definitely a lot going on!

After all, CPS is definitely involved in digital storytelling with our SalesTouch interactive touchscreen product. In today's digital and data-driven environment,  single format storytelling has been transformed into transmedia storytelling in an effort to connect people and brands better than ever.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Customer Experience is Everything!

A recent Digital Signage Today commentary suggested the phrase "the customer is king" has evolved into a more holistic concept: "the customer experience is everything!"
SalesTouch: dynamic and effective customer engagement!

More and more, companies are recognizing there needs to be a particular focus on cross-channel experiences that engage customers.  

Microsoft recently reported the average human loses focus after 8 seconds (a rather precipitous decline from the 12 second attention span of 2000)! Technology is perceived as a driving factor behind this change. Did you know goldfish have a 9 second attention span?

How to attract and maintain customer focus in this environment so your customer experience is maximized? Is digital signage that tool -- or just more distraction?

Digital signage has the capability to jump out and grab attention -- even in today's short attention span world. Take a look at the Cornerstone Communities SalesTouch interactive touchscreen image above; wouldn't you like to find out how you could live at this community?

What does your reaction this tell us? Marketing strategy and content -- regardless of the product or location -- has to stand out to grab a consumer's attention.  Companies need to plan how to grab attention in advance. Who is the audience? What type of content will reach them? What are their motivators? What sorts of benefits can be displayed in those 8 seconds?

Video is a good example of the need for thorough analysis: if there's a 30-second video, most people won't watch. But..if it can be broken down into 5-second segments, you're within the Microsoft-reported sweet spot!

Another key take-away is content is critical:  consumers will notice changing displays (vs. static signage, as an example -- or even an interactive presentation with just a single message). Cornerstone's presentation revolves images -- some focused on lifestyle, others on community.

CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen presentations to home builders for 10 years; let us help you design dynamic content and presentations that maximize your home shopper customer experience!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#1 Customer Care Trend: Self Service

Today, it seems that it doesn't matter the industry when looking at customer service. As a recent Radial article notes, in the age of Amazon, consumers have sky-high expectations.
WarrantyWatcher: mobile self-service!

Homebuyers aren't any different 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 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.

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.

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

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.

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Marketing Focus: The Live-Work Lifestyle

Are you familiar with the phrase Live-Work Lifestyle?  According to a recent BuilderOnLine article, this term, particularly popular with Millennial workers, pairs telecommuting with opportunities for connection.

Many of us are familiar with telecommuting or working remote without a "typical" office to go to on a regular schedule.
SalesTouch provides focus on Flex Space options

But, BuilderOnLine suggests today's remote worker also wants to incorporate the element of seeking out camaraderie.

Not every telecommuter can or wants to live in an urban area. Housing prices as well as the need for larger living spaces, good schools, recreation and the like mean many remote workers are moving out to the suburbs suggesting home builders find creative ways to satisfy the demand for a vibrant lifestyle outside the city. 

In other words, telecommuting and flexible work options (such as 4x10 work weeks) are changing what home shoppers want not only in a home but in the neighborhood, as well. 

Take a look at the top image: CPS' SalesTouch in use at Cornerstone Communities new Agave neighborhood in North County San Diego displays structural features such as the optional Flex Space providing the home shopper with the home office so often needed for remote work.


SalesTouch highlights walkability
And, now take a look at the lower image: SalesTouch provides an interactive, pinch to zoom surrounding area map highlighting neighborhood locations meeting lifestyle objectives in the KBHome Reunion area. Those objectives can range from walkability as well as "work away from home" locations such as the library or Starbucks plus dining options and recreation hot spots such as parks, trails and dog walks!

Lifestyle marketing, in other words, is expanding as the interest in live/work options grows!




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Marketing Doesn't End with the Purchase!

Super interesting Forbes article recently by Alan Murray: Four Forces Revolutionizing Marketing.

Murray summarizes discussions encountered at a recent Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference noting marketing executives face a world that is radically different from it was just a decade ago.
CPS WarrantyWatcher: Facilitating the process!

On one hand: don't we all face a world radically different from 10 years ago?

On the other, Steve Lucas with Marketo offers today's marketing dilemna: the number one challenge facing marketing today is complexity. There are pop-up events, campaigns designed to last a week, increased content access via mobile phones & tablets and, as JB Osborne, Red Antler CEO notes, trends are condensed over a period of a couple of weeks or a month.

What really stands out in Murray's article however, was the consensus that marketing doesn't end with a purchase. In today's social media-driven world, the marketing process doesn't stop with today's encounter or the purchase -- there's a need to generate ongoing enthusiasm for the brand, project or community.

Isn't that what we've been talking about regarding functionality provided by CPS' CRM and WarrantyWatcher software? Today's homebuyer becomes tomorrow's homeowner -- and their brand influence can be considerable given social media reach from the moment they walk into the sales office. Providing a Portal to get in touch, keep in touch and communicate quickly can be as important to homeowner perceptions as resolving an issue.

After all, it has been reported that the staying in touch and keeping buyers/owners informed drives referrals (and isn't that a marketing objective?) far more than any other source!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yes! Boomers Are Buying Outside the "Smile States"

John McManus noted in a recent BuilderOnline Consumer Trends article that the US population is now 325.3 million and added a fact, that frequently goes unnoticed: the US population is getting older.
Millennials, Boomers .. and multigenerational, too!

There's been quite a bit of fanfare recently noting Millennials are finally entering the new homes market; yet, the median age across the board has gone up 7% since 2000.  More startling: the 65+ population has grown 40.5% in the same timeframe.

And, every state has experienced an increase -- or remained constant.  Maine has the highest median age (44.6) (compare that to Utah with the lowest at 30.8)!

What ideas might be drawn from these numbers?

Certainly, there's demand for 55+ communities in what are thought of as "traditional 55+" areas (for example, Sumter, FL has a 67.1 age median).  McManus suggests that builders and developers consider every area has 55+ potential -- and that there's a significant demand for multigenerational product, as well.

In other words, communities are drawing buyers from a wider audience than ever before -- and the audience is more diverse.  What seems to be consistent, McManus notes, is the interest in carefree living.  Accessibility -- in terms of interior space as well as outside the community -- and lifestyle -- think both community and surrounding neighborhood amenities -- are drivers as folks think about how they want to live as they get older.

Take a look at recent Solutions Blogs regarding walkability, amenities, green living, even floorplan options -- and how an interactive presentation -- we're highlighting CPS' SalesTouch -- will help tell your story more effectively to the range of today's home shopper audiences.


Monday, July 24, 2017

When Thinking About Digital Walls: Bigger is Better!

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

That saying has been attributed to Will Rogers; however, Debbie Wilson-Dewitt, in a recent DigitalSignageToday article, suggests it makes sense to apply it to digital walls, as well.  These walls are intended, she says, to create a strong impression.  Since the walls are typically placed in an entry area, they're designed to make that first impression as lasting as possible and, for that, you need to go big or go home!

CPS offers Social Media Wall-- a unique, ever-changing combination of social media content and traditional marketing copy. Many of these walls have gone big; several are located in new home information centers and they provide a terrific entrance focal point. 

Apart from size, what else needs to be considered when thinking about an effective wall?
  • Size matters, initially; content keeps people looking. 
  • Walls can greet as well as provide information.
  • Use walls to communicate and reinforce branding. 
  • Answer questions through wall content and images -- it keeps people engaged, longer.
  • Be sure the wall is designed for your audience.
Walls, says Wilson-Dewitt, are an incredible value-add and any kind of organization can benefit from them. Let us help you imagine how this dynamic communications tool can leverage your social media content and create conversations!  






Friday, July 21, 2017

Starting with Your Prospect in Mind!

Another short (he says "one minute" but...) and interesting Power Marketing/Brian Flook Tuesday Tip:

Every marketing effort MUST begin with the prospect in mind!
SalesTouch takes answers and gets interactive! 

In other words, take advantage of each marketing project to focus and ask questions such as:
  • Who are my prospects?
  • What are their interests?
  • What is impacting them today?
  • What are their dreams?
Asking these types of questions (and developing answers to them!) helps "get into the prospect's mind" so your content and messaging speaks directly to their wants!

What sorts of answers do you think helped create this CPS SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation?  How about 55+ demographic, relocating, family-oriented, looking for relaxation, love the outdoors!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Let Your Interactives Help Foster Sense of Community

Recently, Mary Cook, writing in Builder Developer, noted that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. Her firm is known for creating innovative environments targeted to market demands and her article focused on 7 Ways to Design Residential Developments for Millennials. 

What was top of her list? Foster a sense of community!

What's behind that thought? Cook notes that many Millennials telecommute -- finding them with little interaction with co-workers and managers. The typical, work-related social interactions are missing. And, like many new home buyers, they're probably relocating (even if a relatively short distance). As a result, they're looking for their home (both specific and general) to provide relationships.  That's driving the popularity of amenity-rich communities as community pools, tech centers, fitness centers encourage residents to gather and engage.

Do you recall the Solutions Blog about walkable neighborhoods (or Walkups)? Consider using your location as a way to encourage thinking of the new neighborhood in terms of walkability and its benefits from a social interaction perspective:
  1. Offer Walk Abouts: One of walkable neighborhood's driving forces is access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Think of the possibilities -- run into or invite neighbors as everyone is learning the area! Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" map highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to your home shoppers? Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore (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.
  2. Shine a Light on Educational Institutions: Here's another opportunity for introducing a new way of thinking about community! And, these opportunities don't need to be just traditional colleges and universities. Think outside the box and consider adult education and interest-focused centers, too. Look for places like innovative yarn shops, photography studios, art centers.  Let your home shoppers explore neighborhood learning opportunities and imagine the opportunities available.
Let an interactive touchscreen presentation tell your community story -- from amenities to neighborhood "hot spots" to all sorts of educational possibilities. Take a look at a CPS' SalesTouch  presentation's aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); can't you see your buyers virtually exploring and enjoying their new community?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Builders: Mobile, Proactive Customer Service & Referrals

Today, we're building on thoughts developed in a Solutions Blog How to Improve Your "Refer a Friend" Rate (read it here) and by Eliant's Bob Mirman regarding the referral impact associated with keeping customers informed.

Both articles focus on the value of what we call "proactive customer service" -- that is, not waiting for an event to offer specific, customer-focused attention.  
Mobile Enables Proactive Customer Service moments!

A recent Innovative Retail Technologies article sparked a new thought: the value of mobile relative to proactive

Have you heard of the "First Dibs Opportunity" study suggesting 46% of mobile usage sessions start with no real aim? Author Christine Kern also mentions 70% of respondents use their mobile devices to "kill time." 

The study concludes "if smart phones were smart, they'd do a better job of giving us something useful!"

On the other hand, software can help builders turn mobile time into proactive customer service moments! Your homebuyers can grab a minute or two, while waiting in line at the store, to check out stage of construction photos. And, can't you see your buyer getting excited to see a completed roof and turning to the next shopper and saying, "Check this out! My new home's roof was just finished!"

That's a refer a friend moment! Or, how about the impact of a homeowner browsing their service requests while getting a hair cut and seeing a completed service request complete with photo?  Wouldn't that be a "Wow! My builder is letting me know the bathroom repair is complete!" moment?

CPS' FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher Portals can help you easily create these proactive customer service events --  and help your referral rate jump! We're happy to show you how!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Harness the Power of Images in Your Sales Center

An interesting 1-minute Tuesday Tip from Brian Flook showed up in the Inbox today: Did you know that the power of images is increasing?

SalesTouch: Powerful images provide a visual cue to explore
Flook asked that question and answered: Images matter!  He goes on to note that real estate listings with 25+ images sell faster than those with only 10 photos.

Here at CPS we've long believed engaging home shoppers starts the moment they enter the sales office with SalesTouch, our interactive touchscreen system.  It doesn't just happen, of course! There needs to be a visual cue to invite the prospect to explore.

Visual cues not only invite attention; they encourage the visitor to engage and obtain more information! Whatever their reason for considering a purchase -- larger home, neighborhood, on-site amenities -- powerful imagery motivates movement.
Dynamic images engage home shoppers and encourage action

Take a look at Bella Collina -- elegant, Italian, scenic images along with copy about The Club, Golf Course and the Spirit of Tuscany.  You can imagine luxuriating in the Spa. What's the next step? Start touching to find out!

Compare Ramblewood Forest's imagery: luxury, large homes for family, a new neighborhood. Equally inviting; the same question arises as to how to find out more? The next step isn't unknown: start touching to find out!

Flook suggests: powerful photography clinches the deal -- long before any copy, no matter how well written!

We'd be happy to talk with your about how a SalesTouch presentation can engage and motivate your home shoppers!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Builders: How to Improve Your "Refer a Friend" Rate

Did you see the recent Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
Keep in Touch & Watch Your Referrals Grow!

Not surprisingly, this Blog is one of our most read posts as it summarizes Bob Mirman's comments (he's Eliant's Founder/CEO), in a Builder and Developer article, that the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- and the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, basically, likes to be in the dark.  And, with today's social media, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

The same can be said for good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need a conversation -- just communication.  CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service team and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.  No additional work required: the construction schedule is available for buyers to view.  Warranty requests, status and appointments can be seen, as well, via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!

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

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team's results communicate results within the organization -- and are easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers.




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Millennials Are Buying; Are You Using Millennial-Friendly Marketing Tools?

Did you happen to see the recent Sacramento Bee article: Elk Grove millennials buck national home ownership trend in a big way?

Get Interactive and Highlight Your Millennial-Friendly Plans!
Author Thomas Oide cites marketwatch.com's studies indicating Elk Grove (a suburb south of Sacramento) is the No. 1 city in the country for homeownership for those under 35.  That's the Millennial demographic everyone is focused on! Smartasset.com found Elk Grove to be No. 2 with another Sacramento suburb, Roseville, in as No. 4!

Smartasset attributed the high rate of Millennial homeownership to the strong Sacramento job market (finally!) as well as the relative proximity to San Francisco. Note that median home value is $390,000.

Not every community has the San Francisco factor available for their marketing campaign, however. Builderonline offers suggestions for the rest of us in Redfin's Whitney Bennett's How to Make a Home More Appealing to Millennial Buyers.

We'll focus on Millennial-friendly Suggestion #1 and follow-up with others, soon: Create an Open Floor Plan.

Bennett (and NAR in 2014) says most younger buyers are interested in large, open spaces with fewer walls and partitions. Why? These buyers like entertaining in large spaces and are also interested in multi-functional rooms.

How to market that open floor plan? Let's look at a recent CPS SalesTouch installation at Cornerstone Homes' new Agave community in North County San Diego. You'll notice a great open first floor area as well as a second floor flex space -- along with the ability to interact with the floor plan and drag and drop furniture letting home shoppers dream and create their new living space!

Encourage your Millennial home shopper to design their home using interactive tools -- moving away from the standard brochure plan by mixing/matching structural choices, adding furniture, marking up the plan -- and making it their own!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Storytelling Helps You Facilitate Customer Engagement

Did you happen to see Simon Fraser's post in Retail Customer Experience entitled, 7 Keys to Customer Experience Happiness?  Fraser suggests business customer experience efforts should never just be an initiative or a fad.

Social Media Wall: Encouraging storytelling!
Customer experience efforts, in other words, need to be communicated as part of the overall business vision -- and delivered consistently.

And, business goals, Fraser offers, are enhanced when there's a focus on creating great stories.

Members of your organization -- and your clients -- get a positive experience as a result of building memories.  Who doesn't remember experiencing "that feeling" when hearing a great customer experience story?

Have you considered how you are telling your stories?  Are they static stories on the wall or in a brochure -- or are you encouraging your customers to take information, add their experiences and start creating their own narrative around your brand?

Take a look at CPS Social Media Wall: it starts with your vision -- copy and images -- and adds in stories using social media content.  Stories emerge from your vision, yet are dynamic and ever-changing as customers start adding their own.

Every business and person has stories to tell -- and all of us get pleasure from hearing and seeing them! Ask how how Social Media Wall can facilitate the customer engagement for you!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day 2017: Honoring Service and Sacrifice

Memorial Day has been set aside as a day for all of us to honor and remember the sacrifices made for our country by our military and recognize their service.

Traditionally, here at CPS, we recognize and thank members of the CPS family who have served our country.

Memorial Day 2017: Semper Fi
Last year, we celebrated Bob Musa son's recent graduation from US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp. Mike has moved on to his permanent duty station in North Carolina; congratulations!

Remembering the service of:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force

Bob's father, Robert Musa (US Marines, retired & yes; that's 2 generations!)
Chris' father, Michael Lott (US Navy, retired)
Michelle's father, Robert DuBois (US Air Force)
Michelle's husband, Jerry Stone (US Navy)
Sean's father, Chris Miyazaki (US Air Force, retired)
Troy's brother, John (US Air Force)
Zoe's father, Charles Miller and brother, Wilson Miller (both: US Army)


Did you know 50% of today's high school youth aren't aware of World War II? Why not take the time to encourage friends and family to remember -- with a bbq, picnic, visit to a memorial park or concert, joining a parade or running a race to support various fundraising efforts?

Let us know who you are remembering this Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed

Eliant, the home building industry's largest firm specializing in managing the consumer experience, notes in a recent Builder & Developer article that the single largest referral driver is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction!
Keeping Your Buyers & Homeowners Informed 24/7
That statistic is part of a very interesting article by Bob Mirman, Eliant's founder/CEO, as he points out similarities between hospitals and home builders.

Hospitals & home builders, you might ask? Drill down a bit: patients and home buyers are 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 -- and how?

The third and most critical point is the impact of status updates -- and isn't that the case with most consumer-facing businesses? Mirman noticed and appreciated the daily calls from the assigned staff internist.  He knew he'd get the latest information and didn't need to worry about voicemail, missed calls or miscommunication through a 3rd party.

Think about your 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, 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 right there, 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, May 11, 2017

Giving Your Customers a "Wow!" Experience

Much of today's marketing focus is all about the customer experience.  Great experiences will engage and capture customers.

SalesTouch: Adding Wow! to surprise and delight consumers
It's said: give your customers a "wow" experience and they will tell friends, family, work colleagues and share on social media.

So...how to create that "wow"? Recent ICX (Interactive Customer Experience) Summit participants offered some thoughts:

  • Ben Putland at Grand Visual: Consider how the technology is being used to enhance a story (vs. being the story itself) 
  • Eric Vazquez at Encore Event Technologies: Consumers with a natural sense of curiosity want to engage with technology
  • Paula Suarez at Dickey's Barbeque: Consumers want to interact with technology, but that technology has to make sense.
Take a look at the SalesTouch interactive touchscreen system installed at The John Marshall multifamily property in Richmond, VA.  Curious as to where you might eat if you lived at the property?  Can't you almost taste that pizza?

We like to think this presentation offers a Wow! experience for the home shopper.  Technology enhances the list of restaurants by providing a visually engaging experience.  Consumers want to find out what's close by -- and technology encourages their curiosity.  Using touchscreen technology makes sense because it takes a straightforward process such as the restaurant story in Richmond, enhances it with interesting copy and visuals and encourages exploration.   

We think John Marshall home shoppers find a unique, engaging experience that surprises and delights them -- and we can help you deliver Wow! moments, as well! 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Interactive Touchscreens: All About Consumer Engagement

Consumer engagement is a very broad topic but... it's considered the lifeblood of an organization's marketing strategy.
SalesTouch: Making the Shift to Decision Simplicity!

How would you define it?  We suggest it is the interaction between a brand and its customers.  

When consumers make purchase decisions -- especially large dollar purchases like a new home -- they are doing more than buying a product; they are making a statement as to how the product resonates with their identity and lifestyle. 

How does your marketing collateral engage home shoppers and move beyond just product?

Harvard Business Review article, To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple, suggests using a "decision simplicity index" to ask how easy is it for consumers to gather and understand information. The easier a brand makes the purchase decision journey, the higher the decision-simplicity score.  

Shifting the orientation toward decision simplicity, it is argued, is a significant change requiring marketing teams to rethink how and what to communicate.  Too much (information, product samples, views, floor plans....you name it!) can produce an excess of input leading to indecision.  Too much choice, in other words, often paralyzes decision-making.

Take a look at the Tehaleh SalesTouch interactive presentation image, above.  Can you see how it would resonate with identity and lifestyle -- as it defines what you will see as you engage: active lifestyle, family, outdoors, shopping/dining and homes.  Aren't you encouraged to jump in and explore?  Hasn't this SalesTouch interactive system simplified and personalized the journey toward purchasing at Tehaleh?

Take advantage of CPS' experience in developing engaging interactive presentations focused on presenting information simply, yet powerfully.  We can help your home shoppers get more engaged!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Warranty Management: Developing a Strategic Advantage

Today, it seems that everyone is talking about improving the quality of customer engagement.


Use Warranty as a Customer Engagement Touchpoint!
There are many possible engagement touch points: have you considered your warranty operation as an opportunity to enhance your relationship?.

Back in the day, warranty was introduced as a tool to attract customers. Companies wanted to show buyers that they were willing to guarantee their products.  Soon, the idea caught on and everyone was providing a warranty on their products and.. home builders were no different.

Home builders found, as did others, that managing warranty was a task in and of itself.

Claims management, vendor logistics,... before they knew it, warranty seemed to be a monster that had a life of its own.

Today, however, warranty management, if properly conceived and administered, offers an opportunity to increase your strategic advantage.  It can improve customer engagement and, through today's social media outlets, provide a direct customer voice.  What home shopper wouldn't be encouraged to see a Facebook post highlighting a successful warranty claim?

Successful warranty operations can become both a strategic advantage and a referral source!

How?  An article by Aditya Baliga in Industry Week, suggests a key element is to develop a holistic and streamlined warranty process.  Some key elements:
  1. Warranty Analytics -- Do you know your Top 10 issues? How about their reasons?
  2. Claims Processing -- Have you done everything to improve the process and minimize costs?
  3. Automation -- Go Mobile! and let your homeowners submit requests directly, as an example.
CPS has been helping home builders improve their customer relationships for -- over 30 years.  WarrantyWatcher can provide the analytics you need as well as expedite both claims processing and vendor notification using automation.  Give us a shout out!



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Builders: Mobile Power for Your Warranty Vendors & Homeowners

A recent Retail Customer Experience article by Tom Goodmanson suggests successful brands are always evaluating plans for creating improved customer experiences and building customer loyalty. Today, many find home building to be more brand-focused and retail-oriented than ever.
Offer Mobile To Your Homeowners!

What better time to evaluate and solidify customer strategies than early 2017? Goodmanson makes several 2017 predictions including: mobile customer service will close the gap between consumer expectations and reality.

Combine those thoughts regarding customer service (Go Mobile!!) with the anticipated tsunami of entry level buyers, highly driven by millennials who are already mobile-oriented, and it suggests that adding mobile to the new home experience makes sense for 2017.

And, the experience doesn't stop in the sales center!

Today's home buyer has high expectations regarding their home and the post-sale warranty process in terms of timeliness, quality and reliability.  Make sure your warranty/customer service organization is capable of responding to those requirements -- as well as the goals of improved customer experiences through mobile access.

Let your home owners submit warranty requests using CPS' WarrantyWatcher software from your website using their laptop, smartphone or tablet - and provide the same access to review request status and overall problem resolution history. Vendors have the same cross platform and browser functionality -- from desktop to devices.

CPS has been helping builders offer improved customer service for over 30 years -- let us show you how WarrantyWatcher can improve your customer's experiences!

Monday, May 1, 2017

More on: Marketing to Millennials

Interesting recent article from Quosol regarding your sales and marketing approach to Millennials.

Did you know Millennials are now almost 25% of the US population? That's about the same as the Boomer population -- we're experiencing one of the largest demographic shifts in modern history.

Quosol suggests Millennials think and act differently than the rest of the population -- and that we all need to learn about how to sell to this increasingly important marketing demographic. Several key thoughts emerge as key to making sure your organization is Millennial-savvy:

  1. Millennials have grown up with a focus on them -- and social media has only intensified that by putting them under a microscope.  It's the gate keeper between the sale and them.  As a result, communications need to be relevant and personal. It's about capturing their attention!
  2. Millennials do their research -- and 80% of their purchase decision is made before they become a lead. 60% say they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase -- often putting quality over price.
  3. Millennials are beyond tech savvy -- technology has been a part of their entire life (some were playing with cell phones instead of traditional toys!). You'll need to marketing in ways that are their way of communicating -- employing digital as a part of the sales process.                   
CPS' Social Media Wall: Putting Technology to Work!
30% of Millennials use 4 or more technology devices a day & check their smartphones at least 43 times a day!

We suggest incorporating CPS' Social Media Wall --  an engaging, ever-changing display of shared customer experiences encouraging businesses and their audience to create a new type of digital story. Take marketing messages and display them side-by-side with consumer generated content, such as photos and videos, from popular social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. 

The result? Technology providing a shared, creative process fostering an ongoing, engaging customer experience -- exactly the type of sales experience your Millennial audience rewards!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Home Builder Customer Service: Another Referral Source

Did you catch our blog titled Keeping Buyers in the Loop is #1 Referral Driver? You can read it here!
Status updates: 24/7 availability!

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

That statistic is part of a great article by Eliant's founder/COE, Bob Mirman, noting similarities between hospitals and home builders.

At first, you could think such a comparison is silly; yet, there are striking similarities: patients and home buyers are justifiably anxious, worried, confused and scared as they're involved in an unfamiliar environmentNot for the same reason but.. still concerned. Mirman suggests empathy goes a long way towards making everyone feel comfortable.

Doesn't the same thought apply to your homeowners? They've just made their single, largest purchase and... now, there are some issues!  Empathy coupled with good indicators that progress is being made will go a long way in making the homeowner feel satisfied.

Another Mirman point: the value of contact when delays are encountered -- or anticipated. Are you keeping homeowners in the loop as to status of their service request? Are your employees proactively reaching out?

Then there's the third and most critical point that is striking almost in its simplicity:  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.

Take that thought, apply it to your home builder warranty/customer service department and ask:  how well do we keep your homeowners up-to-date? We'd like to suggest taking a look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher and its Portal.  Homeowners have access, 24/7 and in real-time, to submit a request, view the scheduled vendor visit and review previous requests.  It's their "piece of the pie" automatically generated from use of WarrantyWatcher's customer service software. Service request status is automatic, always visible and available 24/7 -- on your homeowner's desktop, laptop, phone or tablet! 

Homeowners like to feel they made a good decision -- and will talk about it when given a chance. Referrals can be a key sales driver; we can help you make sure your post-sale status updates are one of your referral drivers!