Unless you’ve been living under a rock since March, you’ll be aware of the increase in awareness and use of virtual, augmented, and digital sales technology as a result of the lockdown.
Despite these technologies developing in the background before March, social distancing has shone a spotlight onto forward-thinking technology, and these new ways of selling something look here to stay in a post-Covid world.
The new normal of consists of a greater reliance on digital and online platforms, as these technologies have transitioned away from simply being desirable, to be essential.
The increased awareness of online and digital sales methods in the last few months has been an eye-opener for some industries to transform how they do things, and a new term has been gaining traction:
Digital customer experience (DCX).
How industries have grown their digital customer experience
Digital customer experience is a relatively new term, which summarises the way organisations talk to their customers through digital means (think mobile, desktop, tablet, and even digital billboards).
One industry that has championed a digital customer experience (long before lockdown) is the new car industry, offering an improved experience of buying a new car and changing the way they were previously purchased.
The Mercedes-Benz website is a prime example of a well thought out DCX from the car industry.
Their digital customer experience has been set up to make purchasing a new car almost done before a customer even sets foot in the marketing suite – and from the comfort of their own home.
The process starts with you being able to scroll down the list of Mercedes cars available and select the vehicle you’re interested in.
After selecting the car, you can configure it to suit your individuality.
You could even look at what the car would look like in different lighting…
After you’ve finished configuring your vehicle, the site then allows you to progress to making an enquiry about the car, email the car configuration to yourself (or someone else), or even downloading your custom car to create a wallpaper background.
This level of digital customer experience is something that’s often found in the new car industry and is something that could be transferred to other industries where valuable products are being purchased, such as new-build housing.
Challenging the way new homes are sold
The need for new-build developers to adapt the way their homes are sold is more apparent than ever.
With social distancing measures loosening, yet some regulations still in place, there are potential customers that don’t want to risk visiting a marketing suite or meet with a sales agent.
There’s also a large section of potential audience members who’ve changed their own mindsets and habits to adapt to more of a digital experience.
People are starting to realise that they can get further along the buying process online than ever before with more and more products and services, if not completing the entire buying process in their own home.
This poses a challenge to developers to update the way they sell their homes, and make discussing, analysing and changing their digital customer experience a larger part of their marketing and sales meetings.
The aim should be to add more engagement at the very start of the house buying process, similar to how a new car can be purchased from Mercedes-Benz.
Enhancing the digital customer experience when buying a new home
There are solutions out there to enhance the digital customer experience when purchasing a new home, and these solutions can be applied right at the start of the home buying process when a potential buyer is visiting a developers’ website.
Home-buyers could also choose to showcase potential by observing a furnished home, or turn off furnishings and showcase the space they have to make their own.
Choices can be selected and visualised as easy they can be for the car industry but in an immersive 360 tour. These choices can then be recorded, like in the Mercedes example, and delivered to a sales advisor to express an interest in the plot.
This interactive way of purchasing a new home speeds up the buying process, with customers being able to decide their choices without even stepping foot inside a marketing suite.
There are also advantages to whittling out ’just browsing’ visitors earlier in the sales process, as more customers will be able to figure out if they’re interested or not by seeing what the development and new home has to offer from their laptop, tablet or smartphone – with the assistance of a virtual tour.
This gives sales agents more time to engage and pursue warmer leads, and move customers through the house-buying process quicker and earlier than before, with a more engaging and interactive sales process.
The same technology can also be applied to marketing suites and site launches, by improving the digital customer experience of the marketing suite by engaging visitors more than the current way of showing a small example of a finish option.
This method worked in the past, however, customers now expect to see what their own personalised home would look like with the options they’ve selected.
The digital customer engagement process also doesn’t stop there, with CGI’s becoming more and more standard across a developers platform, creating a need for developers to become more creative with their social media posts.
(This is actually how we’ve been running our demo meetings during the lockdown, and it’s been a useful way to both show and explain to potential clients what we do. You could do the same!)
What does all this mean for a house-builders DCX?
An overall improvement to the DCX is needed amongst the housebuilding industry, due to the growth in customer expectation from other industries being early adopters to improve their DCX.
The new customer journey will start earlier, and inside customers’ own homes. This is before even visiting a marketing suite, and before development even begins.
Digital customer experience is here to stay, and something that will be at the centre of an effective sales and marketing plan sooner rather than later for the housebuilding industry.
For more information on how you could improve your digital customer experience, drop me a line: [email protected]