2021 redefined what it meant to offer exceptional customer experiences for consumers across multiple industries, but particularly for the residential property industry. As consumer priorities and expectations have evolved so too has the technology which agencies can use to enhance and streamline the customer journey.
In my previous feature I highlighted the new type of consumer that has emerged over the past year as digital trends accelerated during the pandemic – one in which expectations of the digital journey converge across generations to push property market consumers to be far more digitally savvy than years past.
With that in mind, here is a look at several ways in which technology can help agents to shape unique and fulfilling customer experiences, with an emphasis on how technology can help agents to attract, engage, and retain the 2021 consumer.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ strategy or tactic that you can use to transform your customer business, and many of these I’m sure you are either familiar with or already putting into good practice, but the following guidelines will help you to leverage technology to shape the customer experience beyond 2021.
Attract customers with an active and dynamic digital presence
Having a strong online profile is essential for any business looking to attract customers in 2021, and getting pieces together helps to create a brand image that invites customers through the door before they choose to engage. The first step here is to have a good, optimised website – essential for an agency in 2021. 53% of all consumers do their own research before they approach you for a purchase, and your website will usually be the front door, that first step on their customer journey. your website should be able to provide valuable information to help guide buyers or sellers throughout the buying or selling process and be well designed and functional, easy to use, optimised for mobile and optimised for search and social media.
Another key area to consider with attracting customers is persona-based data segmentation. Your database is a potential goldmine that when segmented can help you to deliver highly personalised customer experiences. Segmentation types may vary but there are four basic forms that can streamline the process: Demographic, Psychographic, Geographic, and Behavioural. Your data should be able to tell you who your customers are, why they are looking to buy or sell, where they are located (and where they are looking) and how they interact with your agency.
Segmenting your data can directly help with the next step which is digital marketing. 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine and 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of search results. A successful digital marketing strategy that also utilises optimised SEO and your segmented data can help you build brand awareness and target the right customer with the right information. Social media is also a platform that agencies should be targeting, research from DataReportal found that social media user numbers increased by more than 13% over 2020 and as of January 2021, 77.9% of the UK’s total population used social media in some form. Utilising your social platforms effectively can help agencies to drive traffic to your website and generate new leads.
Engage your audience with streamlined processes and teamwork
What often separates a satisfactory customer experience from a great one is often the personal touch, and the extra mile that a business is prepared to take with their customers. Whilst consumers in 2021 increasingly share expectations when it comes to digital customer experiences, a richer digital service delivery will customise each journey for an experience that is unique.
This quote from the global professional services firm EY about elevating customer experiences in a post COVID-19 world really emphasises the importance of synergy between technology and people to deliver better customer experiences:
“Consumer companies must invest in the data, technology and systems required so they are able to deliver the kinds of exceptional consumer experiences that will give them a competitive edge and position them as the next customer-experience leaders.”
As I mentioned, data collection and segmentation really are powerful tools, and with right software you can use your data to match customers to their ideal properties with much great efficiency and accuracy. Part of that richer customer experience comes from having better defined customer profiles as a result of your data. This can help agents to create processes to understand what it is that their customers are looking for – the 2021 consumer will likely have a good idea about what it is that they’re looking for in a home, but it is the agent that helps guide them through the process.
Technology that can automate the flow of required data in the background to provide agents with the right info to target their customers core motivators, whether they are looking for their first home or perhaps a property to expand their BTL portfolio. There’s a critical point to this, a report from PwC found that 78% of UK consumers want to interact with a real person more as technology improves, which returns to an age-old philosophy that I’m sure all agents understand – at the end of the day, all great customer experiences put the human connection at the centre.
Retain your business and reap the rewards
Great customer experiences don’t simply end with the sale, what happens both during and after is just as important because, for better or worse, buying and selling a home is a process that few customers are likely to forget. The Pareto Principle suggests that 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales, and according to HubSpot, 93% of customers are more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service, as such, customer retention is vitally important for agents looking to offer great customer experiences beyond 2021.
Key to this process is simply maintaining consistent and engaging communication with your customers, responding quickly when they get in contact about their transaction or being receptive to any feedback both during and after the process is complete. Automated processes and self-service tools will go a long way to avoid negative perceptions. And if your agents are using CRM software, they can set reminders and notes about key milestones or updates so that they know both when to contact the customer, and what needs to be shared.
Feedback logged in your CRM can also help agencies to improve how they deliver customer experiences – this might not only help you to retain business but can also be instrumental in attracting new business from positive word of mouth. Digitally savvy consumers in 2021 are quick to share feedback or negative views, and it is much better that they share that with you to act upon rather than an open platform, in this regard customer feedback tools are a great way to collect valuable data that can help agents identify and address issues as early as possible.
Finally, the last point about how technology can shape the customer experience is not what it offers your customers but how it can elevate your staff. A 2021 report from global public relations and marketing consultancy firm Edelman found that employees had for the first time in their survey superseded the customer as the most important stakeholder in a company’s long-term success. Technology training will lead to a more efficient agency, but well trained, empathetic, and happy employees will go even further to deliver exceptional customer experience to customers beyond 2021.
Interested in more insights on how consumers have changed? Download your free copy of Reapit’s newest report on the Consumer (R)evolution: how to attract, engage and retain the 2021 consumer.