It’s no exaggeration to say that the majority of today’s new home buyers conduct their lives online - from booking a cab to buying a takeaway; from settling an argument via Google to settling a bill via an app. They expect consistent, slick, seamless and instantaneous experiences – and will not hesitate to change site or supplier to get them.
So why is customer experience so important for house builders? Buying a new home is largely an offline experience, right? Sadly, it isn’t that simple.
The issue with not focusing on customer experience
Customer experience is quickly taking centre stage in business strategies across all sectors. Provide a great experience and you will have happy customers. Happy customers stay with you longer, buy from you again and recommend you to their friends. Unhappy customers walk away, don’t buy at all and tell anyone who will listen. And when ‘anyone’ is the entire internet, that’s a problem.
Bad experiences can lose you customers, damage your reputation, swallow up your profits and devalue your business. They can also go global in minutes. Remember United Airlines who saw $1.4 billion wiped off its share value overnight when a passenger’s negative experience went viral?
An extreme example perhaps, but imagine the collective impact if the 99% of new home buyers who experienced problems with their new home had shared that information across social media instead of with the 2018 NHBC Customer Satisfaction survey.
The quality gap in the market
The truth is, that won’t take long. The recent All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPG) report confirms that right now there’s “a quality gap between customer demands and industry delivery” and that house builders need “new mechanisms and a fresh culture” to create a more consumer-focused approach.
In a world where competition is fierce, the experience you give your customers will be your differentiator. In fact, Forbes goes as far as saying that customer experience management “may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate”.
House builders reactions
Thankfully, the sector is responding. Taylor Wimpey, for example, has put the spotlight on customer-centricity by employing former Head of Customer Experience at Yell, Suzanne Byrne, as its Customer Experience Director. In our recent case study with Taylor Wimpey, Suzanne says “customer expectations are becoming greater and they are being more discerning. The fact that you can differentiate yourself around the service experience against your competitors gives you a competitive edge.”
According to Forrester’s annual Customer Experience Index, customer-centric companies gained 43% in performance compared to a 33.9% decrease for companies who put less emphasis on customer experience. And according to KPMG Nunwood’s 2018 Customer Experience Excellence index, the sectors showing the strongest CX performers are financial services and retail. So, like Taylor Wimpey, house builders can learn much by looking outside the sector.
So, what are customer experience directors prioritising?
Customer experience isn’t just about a sale or asking your new buyer to complete a satisfaction survey when they’ve picked up their keys. The experience starts with the very first contact between you and your hopeful house hunter, and continues through every single interaction.
A skilled customer experience director has proven expertise in creating winning customer strategies, and is up-to-date with the techniques and technologies that will deliver them. They will be able to build a customer experience roadmap to provide your organisation with:
- Your customer experience vision
- An understanding of who your customers are and what motivates them
- A single customer view for a consistent experience
- Real-time insights to understand how to connect and communicate
- More streamlined customer processes
- Buy-in from the wider organisation
- More accurate forecasts
- Reduced marketing wastage
- Measurable ROI
The need to act
Be aware. Customer experience is not just the latest in a long list of fashionable marketing jargon. It’s a shift of emphasis that house builders can no longer ignore. Putting the customer at the centre of your strategy will not only result in short to medium term gains, it will safeguard your long-term goals, ROI and reputation.
Crimson’s Property Accelerator will empower any house builder – with or without an skilled customer experience director – to address these concerns thanks to pre-configured workflows and systems based on our knowledge of the sector.