Having invested millions in your latest development, it is important to understand the effectiveness of your activities in marketing the property and engaging potential customers.
Customer feedback forms and mystery shopping do not give you the complete picture, and it is critical that you fully understand how well you engage your audience.
Monitoring and measuring the residential engagement and marketing effectiveness is key.
Focusing on your customer touchpoints and creating a structure that serves your higher purpose is vital and separates user experience from customer experience.
Hyper-personalisation as a differentiator is going to be the most important attribute in customer service. Treating customers as individuals, with their own unique set of needs and wants, is becoming more and more important.
According to CRM firm Kustomer, 84% of CX leaders predict personalisation will become more important over the next three years.
Hyper-personalisation is the stand-out focus for customer service and enquiry/complaint handling. Personalised experiences are an acknowledged weak point for service organisations today. This goes hand-in-hand with limited resources, high volume of enquiries and even higher expectations.
How can employees and agents spend time personalising an experience when they are low on numbers and spending precious time searching a multitude of different systems/platforms, just to service a single customer enquiry?
Ensuring best practice must include focusing on the people, property service and digital elements.
Your customer service affects everything from experience to the bottom line.
The impact of Covid-19 changed much, and the focus on people, property, service and digital are highlighting higher expectations, making it harder than ever to recruit the right people, train them and provide the ideal surroundings in which to live, work and play.
Competition is high and fluctuations in rents can be hard to predict.
According to professional services firm Deloitte, even though fewer customers may be experiencing problems, more customers are inclined to complain about customer service problems than ever before.
In addition, customers expect a rapid response from a company’s social media channels.
The principles of having the right people in the right place to give excellent service are outlined here.
Training is often the undervalued element of an investment, but it potentially delivers the greatest value. Consider delivering a mix of live, Zoom and online learning.
Recruit, onboard and consistently train all people, from maintenance staff to managers. Training should include:
- Selling to the customer online and in person
- Touring the customer
- Follow up
- Etiquette – phone, online and in person
- Onboarding V+V + CSS + culture
- Complaint handling and difficult situations
- Well-being and mental health
There are benefits to valuing your people. Treat them well and they will treat the customers well. Make your employees your number one focus, then customers, and the rewards might be:
- Lease renewal, with increased revenue from lower opportunity costs
- Less employee churn
- Increased employee loyalty
Across the globe, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand while 33% of customers who abandoned a business relationship in 2017 said they did so because personalisation was lacking.
A viewing is the most productive customer touchpoint ... if you get it right
A viewing is the most productive customer touchpoint – where you are face-to-face with a prospective customer. This is where you can influence the purchase most effectively … if you get it right.
Are the right questions being asked?
- Are staff polite, attentive, responsive and efficient?
- Are safety protocols adhered to?
- Are the property and people presentable, staged and clean?
- Are all features and benefits known, shown and clarified?
- Are your partners accurately representing your development?
- What follow-up processes are in place and delivered?
- Is the building well designed for its purpose?
- Does it allow for flexibility and adaptation to meet customer needs?
- Is it expensive to run because of poor design?
- Is it a planet-friendly property?
The benefits are such that if you look after the building the building will look after you.
- Well designed and inexpensive to operate buildings increase physical asset value
- Lifecycle durability reduces long term costs
- Quality improves customer experience
- Property is part of customer acquisition and retention strategy
Service provision should be part of the focus from design to build. Knowing which services to provide, and to whom, is key. Mastering the essentials below is critical to a seamless and consistent service experience:
- Crafting your own set of customer service standards
- Lifetime support
- Complaint handling
- Communications and tour follow-ups
- Loyalty programme
Invest up front in what you need in the future, to be outstanding in your arena. The benefits of valuing service provision include:
- Increased customer acquisition and retention
- Employee enjoyment, acquisition, and retention equals low turnover
- Improved customer experience which elevates the brand
- Positive social media, and word of mouth, improves sales
Servicing customers online is just as important as in person
The importance of digital
Digital marketing requires multiple channels to be truly effective. Keeping data in one or in limited places, makes for ease of capture and use. Consider:
- Site assessments: How is your location being presented to potential customers?
- Website: Yours and your agent’s partners; how is the offer being promoted online?
- Social media: is your content relevant and engaging?
- Competitor analysis: What are you up against? What can you learn from them?
- Best practice: Taking proven ideas and activities and applying them to your own marketing
- Consider the key elements of your offer: Strength of proposition, consistency of messaging, quality of service, knowing how to improve, and implement
The benefits of valuing digital
Millennials are perhaps the masters of the digital world. Knowing the demographic you want to attract, and who is responding to you, is important.
Servicing customers online is just as important as in person, many would argue more so, as the first point of contact is usually online. Make it accessible, pleasant, easy and always follow up. Do what you say you will do. This is a huge area for improvement in the Build to Rent and PRS industry.
Optimising Twitter and Instagram to generate income and new customers is a great opportunity.
Partnering with social influencers will drive traffic, for no or minimal compensation.
Selecting the best single technology to perform multiple tasks and capture all information in one place is key to customer and employee (user) experience. Too often this is not the case and multiple platform use diminishes the speed, efficacy, and enjoyment of the process.
Digital statistics speak for themselves as 31% of customers report reaching out to a company via Twitter, 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online and 79% of millennials are more inclined to buy from brands that have a mobile-responsive customer support portal.
- Train your team, partners and agents in your culture and manage your hospitality expectations. Have an empathetic service mindset
- Store data in one system for easy input and output
- Take notice of customer input and feedback and follow up, follow up, follow up!
- Hyper-personalise the employee and customer experience
- Spot trends and needs, and design into the build and service provision
- Consistently respond to customers on all channels and in a good time frame
- Create remote working efficiency
- Be proactive when resolving customer issues
- Reduce customer effort at all touch points
- Invest in technology that supports your service
Take a good look at what your competitors provide.
This gives you invaluable insights as you market a development. Aside from price comparisons, you can pick up on best practice and useful innovations within sales and marketing activity, to give you focus for improvement. Check:
- How they present their proposition
- Examples of message clarity and consistency
- Ways in which they encourage interaction and engagement
- Great features and benefits that stand out
It is always advisable to look around other industries for great examples of what you do. This can provide brilliant inspiration and ideas that you can apply to your own offer.
By understanding what works well outside your own industry, you can easily adapt these insights and apply to your own sales and marketing initiatives.
Collect your lightbulb moments referencing great examples from a diverse range of industries, to illustrate how a company has applied a process or technique successfully.
Be careful what you ask for! Know what information you want and when to ask for it. People generally give feedback when they are highly delighted or highly frustrated.
Statistics suggest that customers are only willing to share personal information if there is some perceived value.
Channels of the future
The way we shop has changed and looking online is usually the first port of call.
- Live chat – Social-Media – SMS – Email – Chatbots – Self-Service.
- TikTok and Instagram are being used increasingly to generate income, using a click to response on their posts. And so, together with the use of social influencers, you could gain traction in exposure, followers, brand recognition and sales.
- The metaverse is also gathering pace, offering the internet in 3D and a more immersive experience to customers