Focus Discussion of the Week:
Chelsey and Katie chat about the importance of customer experience, and the difference it makes when building a home. This episode is packed with ideas and examples on how to make new homebuyers feel connected to the process. Plus it wouldn’t be a Chelsey & Katie episode without some Disney updates!
Hello, and welcome to another episode of building perspective with me and Katie. Your favorite favorite co-hosts maybe I’m sure there are a lot of more interesting people than them, but we’re here to talk about. One of our favorite topics, not social media, not digital marketing customer experience. And what is going on in the builder world today with customer experience, what we’re seeing, what improvements we’re seeing across the board and what improvements you can make.
Today with your customer experience. So to kick it off, Katie is going to tell us a little bit about what she is seeing from our builders in terms of customer experience. Take it away, Katie.
Katie: Yeah, no, I’m super excited. And I think this is a fun one because it is a piece of, of marketing. Uh, you know, in, in the sense it’s not outward facing marketing, it’s not a sales ad.
Um, but the entire process from start to finish should be thought at thought of, you know, in a, in a marketing sense. So, um, yeah, uh, over the past few years, I will say this has come up more and more solely because. Builders in need as much outward facing marketing, or they had totally sold out of their inventory.
Um, so, you know, they didn’t have anything tangible to sell. So we kind of took our strategy, um, you know, in our marketing tactics inward and said, how can we make the buying process better? How can we. You know, get these people to buy in, to be loyal to you guys, to refer their friends, to really feel like they’re a part of something more.
I mean, obviously buying a house is not your typical transaction, so it shouldn’t feel like your typical transaction. It shouldn’t feel like, you know, buying a pair of sneakers or, you know, buying a bike. Um, so one of the biggest things that I’ve either started talking to my builders about, or they have already started to implement, um, is this this person or.
You know this, um, it potentially could be your OSC, but someone who is focused on the customer experience. So we do all this work upfront to, um, you know, get a buyer to sign a contract, right? You focus all this time and energy. You have OCS, you have salespeople. Um, but then what happens after they signed?
They don’t really have a dedicated person. They kind of get passed along from the salesperson to maybe the designer to the construction manager. Um, you know, to closing and they’re kind of bounced around and, uh, they don’t really have a familiar face. Um, they, it’s obviously probably very stressful process.
They don’t know, you know, who, um, their go-to person should be. So I’ve had a lot of builders implement this, um, experience leader. Some are calling it, they’re calling it an experience, ambassador, you know, a customer expects. Leader, um, you know, whatever this name might be. Uh, but really this person is there to, um, start when the buyer signs.
So when they’re kind of passed off from the OSC slash sales person and really stay with the buyers until they get their keys. Um, so one they’re familiar face, um, two they’re there to answer any and all questions. Um, and it’s much easier for. You know, you as a builder to manage what the customer is that this person, this customer experience leader is saying to buyers then to worry about what’s my construction manager saying, what’s my designer saying, you know, are they all telling them different answers to the same question?
Are they getting very. You know, timelines, dates, things like that. Whereas if the buyer is going to the sole person, you can definitely manage, you know, the flow of information a lot better. Um, so that’s, that’s one pro um, the other thing too, is that this person, um, you know, really becomes, I hate to say it, but a glorified, um, You know, therapist, um, to some of these people.
So I would say hearing from our builders, majority of the, uh, you know, frustrations and negative reviews from buyers end up being, Hey, we felt like someone wasn’t listening to me or I never could get a phone call back. Um, you know, this builder left me high and dry for six weeks and I didn’t know what was happening.
Like we hear that all the time. Um, so if they have. This customer experience, ambassador, the buyer can go right to them. And that person’s there to be like, Hey, I heard you going to get an answer, you know, really just there to like, hold their hand, make them feel better, say, Hey, we’re listening. Um, and again, it also it’s it saves your salespeople from being that person and your OSC from being that person because their job is to sign contracts.
Their job is not always to handhold, um, you know, through, through the process. So they’re always gonna put by. A little bit on the back burner and focus on the next prospective buyer. Um, whereas this experience leader, their sole job is just buyers. Um, so, so that’s a great benefit as well. Our Golder who
Chelsey: recently hired an experienced leader, I have.
The opportunity to have a long talk on a call with her. And she actually has a background in hospitality. She does not have a background in selling homes or in whole building or in construction. But think of when you walk into a hotel, there nothing feels better than walking in to a nice hotel and being greeted by smiling faces.
Most likely, always a pleasurable experience to go into a hotel and be treated and greeted like that. You’re only staying at that hotel for a couple of nights. Your house is not a short term stay. And so to have someone. With that thought process and that type of background in their head, like hospitality, to bring that to the housing industry too, which is kind of hospitality related.
I mean, you’re buying a home. This is, this is a stay in so many of our builders that are in tropical locations, even talk about, oh, live where you vacation. It’s a vacation all the time. Then make it feel like a vacation when you’re buying this home and finding people with different backgrounds and different thought processes brings a different perspective to the industry and a different perspective to your company.
And even in my short. Well, it was a long conversation, but even in my one conversation with her, I could see and recognize all of the change that was going to happen within their process and all of the positivity that was flowing through her to go to these home buyers or even prospects to sometimes to make that home buying and home building process even better.
Katie: Yeah. Yeah, no, those are all great points. And I think one of the biggest things with the process, like you said, Chelsea, it’s not a short, you know, it doesn’t take three days. It takes months. And as we know now, the build process takes a lot longer. Um, you know, then I think a lot of our builders were typically, uh, you know, like, so I think one of the biggest things we want to reiterate is, you know, Figure out where the, the lows right in, in this, in the build process are.
So obviously people are really excited after they pick all their selections. They have their paint, colors, their tile colors, that’s such a fun point. Um, but then as we know, nothing happens for sometimes six weeks or more, you know, their house hasn’t even started yet. And that’s definitely a low, um, you know, they did all this fun stuff, but then they don’t see anything transpiring on the construction side.
Um, so it’s kind of thinking about. Keeping, you know, the highs and lows, a little more streamlined. Um, so when you know that they’re hitting this law, you know, Hey, maybe there’s a wall in construction. Maybe there hasn’t been any vertical construction yet. And they’re feeling like nothing’s happening.
Whereas, you know, as a builder, you’re doing site work, you know, you’re doing all this other stuff, tons of stuff is happening, but to a buyer it’s, you know, quote unquote pouring. Um, what can you do during that? Those low points. So I have a builder that actually sends postcards and little mailers to their buyers while they’re in the process.
Um, again, how exciting is it to get something in the mail these days? You know, we all get text messages. We all get emails. That’s great. But what they do is they actually pinpoint like where the low points in the process are and they make sure that there is a card mailed out to the buyers at those points.
And it can have fun little tidbits about, you know, Hey, here are, there are five favorite restaurants, you know, in the, the area that you’re moving to or, um, you know, little things like that are, you know, as it gets closer to the closing date, they do like a save the date. Um, you know, like you get with weddings and.
Um, to, you know, get the buyers excited to know that their closing date is coming up. So, um, those are, they’re all very small touches, but they go such a long, a long.
Chelsey: To give a little background now that we’re already almost 10 minutes into this podcast, but to give a little background on why Katie and I are so passionate about customer experience or why we’ve recently started up this obsession with customer experience is after the builders’ show, we went to Disney together and.
Obviously go into Disney when you’re older and going to Disney as a marketer is much different than going to Disney as a child. And when you can walk through and really take in the entire experience and recognize all of the different touch points that Disney has created throughout your entire experience to make it.
Beyond to make the customer experience beyond any expectation you have, so that it is so wonderful. It’s incredible. It’s amazing to, to Katie and I, we would end the day and just talk about all of the incredible ways. If we were upset, if something went wrong, if we saw a kid crying, how did Disney jump right in and fix it?
And how do they use their voice? How do they use their brand? How did they wrap that all together to make the customer experience? Fantastic. Also, if you didn’t already know, if you didn’t already hear the news Disney announced that they were breaking into the new home industry. I know they are building a community in Palm Springs called Contino, and they’re starting an entire line called story living by Disney.
And if you don’t think that their customer experience for their new home building is going to be out of this world, you’re so wrong. And I know all of us, we are at group two. We are so excited to finally get to secret, shop them and see what their experiences like, what their followup is like, what their, what their emails are like.
I would say, I’m going to do a case study on it, pin it down. Now I’m doing a case study, but I cannot wait to see what their experience is like and how they change the home building experience and to track all of this change, that’s going to happen. But in my opinion, and from, from what, what I have seen from how Disney elevates every other experience from hospitality to food to amusement, to entertainment, They are also going to elevate the new home industry.
And so it’s kind of time for everybody else to think about this too, and get working on elevating our own customer experience. And, yeah, so that’s a little bit background, but that’s, that’s why we’re here today talking about it because customer experience obviously has always been a part of the new home industry, but.
I don’t think it’s ever been as thought of as seriously as now, now that a lot is done virtually a lot is done digitally. Um, it’s more important than ever to get people in and make them feel wonderful from the very first contact.
Katie: Yeah. And you, you mentioned, you know, you talk about. Touches, uh, you know, when we were at Disney, I think one ones, you know, they, they like knew your name, like before you even walked in the door,
Chelsey: they knew everything.
Katie: no, it’s amazing. And also like, um, the, the verbiage that they use, right? So they call you friends, like all of the workers call you friend. You’re not just a. You know, a customer, um, you know, a person, your people, they say they say friends. So, you know, I like that a lot for our builders, you know, you should never be calling them a consumer to their face or a client.
Um, you know, they’re a homeowner like, or a future homeowner, you know, whatever, whatever you call. I mean that, that little bit of language can go a long way. Um,
Chelsey: Yeah. Yeah. I was also going to say, speaking of language, there’s a podcast that I did with Alexis, one of our, um, account managers and she also runs our OSC program.
There’s a podcast that I did with her awhile back that we talked about language and how to bring your brand into your messaging in terms of your OSC. And I have, I’ve actually been looking through a couple of Facebook conversations between builders and prospects and. It’s really baffling to me how the language that some agents or OCS are using to reach out to these people that write and are very interested or seem very interested in building a home and how short and blunt and off putting the language can be coming.
Across online. And so if anything, from what Katie and I have said today, if, if anything, take a step back, also listen to the podcast that Alexis and I had done, where she talks more about bringing your brand and your language into your answers online. But think about that step back and say is everything that we are saying to buyers, whether it’s an email follow-up, whether it’s a message back on social media.
How does it sound? Does it match our brand? Are we making this in an enjoyable conversation for them? Honestly, I was reading through some of these and I’ve had more enjoyable conversations when I was buying a t-shirt or trying to return a t-shirt to a company. And so it, this, this is, and we’ve said this a million times before.
We’ll say it a million times again, to drill it into people’s heads. This is the largest person. Anybody is going to make. And so why shouldn’t the customer experience be the best customer experience that they’ve ever experienced?
Katie: Yeah. Yeah. And I think we, we started off talking a lot about the experience during the build process, because it is so long, but what you were talking about with, you know, just a Facebook message, someone who might not even be in your.
CRM system yet, you know, they, they just chatted you on Facebook. Like first impressions are everything. Um, so, so yeah, I kind of jumped
Katie: Um, you might not think that, you know, you need to spend all this time on every single person and you don’t, you obviously have to prioritize, you know, your leads, but, um, you know, people will remember that.
Um, and if they’re talking to multiple. Builders or, you know, they’re deciding between you and resale, if they get an off-putting experience right. In the very beginning, there’s no, they’ve already moved on. Like you don’t have, you know, a second chance. And, um, you know, it’s not just in conversation, it’s in how your, your website works, the experience of your website too, right?
Like if someone can’t figure out how to, you know, look at your pictures or send you a contact form or all of these things right off the bat, I mean, They’re writing you off and they’ve, they’ve moved on. So, um, it, it is hard to talk about now what Chelsea said, we jumped around, but it’s every, every point in your process should, you know, the customer experience should be, should be thought of.
Chelsey: I had a terrible experience at crumble cookies and I will never forget it and I will never go back. And it was the way in which they talked to me from beginning to end and granted, it was just a cookie being made. From the line to the checking out to the actually getting my cookies to eating my cookie.
It wasn’t even that good when I tasted it. And guess what? I’m never going to go back. And that was just a cookie people. People like what Katie was saying, people are, whether it is their first impression, their first time talking to you, whether they signed a contract and they’re going through the bill process.
How they’re treated and the experience they go through absolutely matters, depending on what they’re going to say to other people. Are they going to refer you to their friends and their family and everyone they know based on the experience they had, or are they going to tell people no, don’t build with them.
Are they going to bash you on social media? Are they going to go on Google reviews and write a one-star review? All of this matters, not just. For that perspective, homeowner or homeowner, but for future homeowners that could come in based on what that, what only of your homeowners have gone through. So yeah, I feel like the more, the more we go through marketing and the more we go through our day to day marketing skills, the more.
Touch points. We find like customer experience. It is all I can think about now. It’s all I love thinking about it. And I love that so many builders are taking so many different steps to improve their customer
Katie: experience. I think consumers are just used to. Catered to, or they should be, I mean, I think of, you know, other industries and how easy, um, you know, it, it is to, to do stuff and how nice it is.
I, you know, I’ll use Peloton as the example. I think someone was telling me they were returning, you know, their Peloton bike and all they had to do was like chat someone on their website. And they were like, if you’re done, really sent them a return label and it was like the easiest thing. You know, ever, and again, it’s like, it’s a lot different than a whole, um, you know, I think a lot of brands are doing everything they can to make.
Beer, their brand feels special. And not just from a product standpoint, like from the overall experience, I’ll use my Peloton example. Again, people buy into the experience of having a Peloton. It’s not the best bike. If you want the best, like stationary bike, you know, there’s other ones that Nordic track or something, I don’t know what they are, but I know it’s that Peloton hold like middle of the road.
It might even be like the least, I don’t know. But they have done such a great job from creating. Brand around their experience around, um, their company that has nothing to do with the actual physical product you’re buying again, houses are different, obviously you’re not going to sacrifice, you know, um, a house the same way you would a bike.
But I think it’s the same deal. Like are, is your product, you know, maybe a little lesser or a little different than your competitor, but you can out-compete them in your. You absolutely can. Um, you know, and I think everyone we think about USP’s and what sets you apart. And I think our builders always think about physical things, you know, Hey, we build a better home.
We’ve better price per square foot, or, um, you know, we’d better features like it doesn’t always have to be that you can compete, um, in your overall experience in your sales process, in your, your, your team, your customer service. So it’s just, it’s just a different way to, to think about your.
Chelsey: Yeah. Well, Katie and I are recording this on a Friday afternoon and now I’m really, really hyped up on customer experience. So I’m gonna offer everyone that is listening to this. If you would like to like us to judge your customer experience, I would love to secret shop your company. So email me, see Keenan, K E N a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two was filled out two. I have to say that to everyone on the phone. So I would say it all the time, but email me and I will secret shop your companies and let you know what. What the customer experience was like, what it was like again, from a first impression, obviously I’m not buying a home and going through the entire bill process, but from a first impression, what is that first impression customer experience like for your company?
If you don’t want me to secret shop you, if you’re not quite ready for that. That’s okay. Just think what is my customer experience like from, from first hello, to. Giving over the keys. Um, we’d love to start a conversation with everyone. So if you guys want to talk about it in the building perspective group, we can get that chat started when we post this.
But again, if you want to talk to us more about it, Katie and I are a little, um, a little passionate about it. If you couldn’t tell, definitely feel free to reach out to us. Uh, thank you for listening and we hope you enjoyed this podcast experience and we hope you have a good week.