Technology has an increasingly important role in servicing the digital generation. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and hyper-personalisation have gone from being buzzwords to common techniques used in the world of business and commerce.
The impact of next-generation technology
Put simply, these “next-generation” capabilities give organisations far more opportunity to create engaging and memorable buying experiences. Many industries are already utilising them effectively.
Take retail. In order to compete with their new online competitors, forward-thinking retailers are fighting back by bringing digital experiences into their stores. The fashion departments of John Lewis, for example, introduced augmented reality “magic mirrors” in their changing rooms. The full-length mirror overlays the customer’s “reflection” with images of clothing they have selected to “try on”, removing the need to scour the shop floor for the perfect outfit.
Once the virtual has been experienced, brands can use the imagery and data to create highly personalised communications to that customer to encourage purchase, nurture a long-term relationship or encourage recommendation. In a 2017 survey of digital marketers, 96% of respondents praised the ability of personalisation to advance customer relationships - and this takes personalisation to another level.
For the digital generation, all of the above is the perfect blend of real and virtual that they can have fun with, save themselves time and effort, and crucially for the organisation, have a memorable brand experience that makes them feel special.
Implications for housebuilders
It doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to envisage what VR can do for housebuilders who, more often than not, are trying to sell something that doesn’t even exist yet. Imagine a world where home buyers can walk around and see every detail of their new home – from the flow of the living spaces to the layout of the kitchen to the choice of bath taps – before the house is even built.
By using modern technology to put buyers inside their new home, housebuilders can make their dream home a reality before their very eyes. It’s extremely powerful, and this generation are starting to expect these abilities before committing to a purchase.
Are we really there yet?
Still seem futuristic? It’s more real than you think. While retailers like IKEA are using VR and AR to “place” products in customers’ homes so they can see what it looks like in situ, homebuilders like Balfour Beatty are already using virtual reality to create new, exciting, emotional connections with prospective customers, and architects are incorporating VR to allow clients to “view” major developments right from the conceptual stages.
It isn’t just about selling
Technology isn’t always about wholesale change. There are ways you can use new tech to gather data and improve customer experiences - more basic, but equally important.
How up-to-date, detailed and reliable is your customer data? Does every relevant stakeholder in their buying journey have a single customer view? How often do you connect with them and how personalised are those interactions? How easily can your buyers contact you with questions? Do they get a swift response via the channel of their choosing?
A modern CRM system can give you the visibility, transparency and responsiveness you need to create a positive customer experience and support these next-generation digital techniques.