Good times or bad times… Take care of your existing customers

Buying a home is perhaps the priciest acquisition by an individual.  Ironically, real estate marketers too burn huge amounts of time, effort and finances on connecting with the prospective buyer(s) through every conceivable medium, to win their confidence   and be their chosen builder.

Sadly however, the customers so acquired at a great cost and effort increasingly feel neglected by the builders across different asset classes, barring a few exceptions.  Quite naturally, there is lot of heart burn and frustration, amongst the customers, which gets amplified in different ways and quite often denting the image of the developer (s) , which  has been assiduously  built over several years. 

Home buying and move in, more often than not, is spread over several months and possibly years too, and the long wait laced with a good dose of hope and anxiety. And to help the customers feel at home with their choice and to keep them happy, it is increasingly necessary for developers to find time and means to engage with the customers and address their concerns and give comfort on a continuous basis. 

Many developers have systems to track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and the sales teams in converting customer enquiries into sales. But very few developers have the systems in place to guage the customer satisfaction and /or and engage them cordially, once they are on board. The CRM teams- mostly focus on the amounts due from the customers ignoring the importance to nurture the relations into a lasting, mutually beneficial association.

It calls for a highly proactive approach to identify the potential and real concerns of the customers already on board and to keep addressing them at regular intervals to give them the required comfort that the customer has indeed made the right choice and is on the way to get delivery of the property as showcased and as the customers have begun to expect.

Just as marketers are trying to spot and track the prospective buyers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, Customers too,  in the recent times have started connecting with the Sales/CRM team and quite often with Senior Management members too,  thro Facebook, Whatsapp, Linkedin.  Customer’s interest and enthusiasm to stay connected with the Developer and the designated persons is understandable, even as it potentially cuts into to the personal time of the company staff, with the customer engagement thro social forums, extending beyond business hours. This can however be countered and minimized through well orchestrated communication and customer engagement policy.

To begin with developers need to ensure timely completion of the booking related documentation and also responses to the enquiring customers with a proper escalation mechanism in case of staff erring in response or behaviour. The common and most important concern of customers regarding project’s progress can be addressed by regularly posting visuals of project’s progress on the developer’s website, which helps not just the existing customers but the prospective ones too. Some progressive developers are sharing the project’s progress thro informative newsletters, updated on a monthly/quarterly basis. It is also very beneficial to invite the customers for a well planned walk-around of the project and a detailed interaction with the seniors of the Management and projects team. Such meetings, if organized in a very pro-active, congenial atmosphere, will go a long way in building harmonious relations with the customers… reflecting the caring attitude of the developer.

By being in touch with the customers on a regular basis, and encouraging a healthy interaction, Developers can sense and limit customer negativity  during any turbulent times enroute, and restrict the damage from  the formal or  informal customer  interactions in different customer groups active in  cyberspace.

We do have several developers offering a variety of freebies and gifts to customers to keep them in good humour.. Whether it’s the co-branded discount coupons for a leading store or the tickets to a block buster movie/theatre or music concert…. each is meant to renew and reinforce the relation with the developer.

Developers will do better to pause and spare time to look backwards at the completed projects too. And not just look at them in past tense. Part of the marketing budget can be diverted to these projects, to improve on either the number or quality of the amenities provided therein. Sponsoring a cultural festival or a new gym equipment or Organizing a Free-Health Check up camp in association with a leading hospital or a diagnostic chain or Running Free Plumbing cum Electrical works assistance or assisting to sell or lease the premises through the company website…..are only a few of the many thoughtful new initiatives that go a long way in renewing an otherwise seemingly lost relation and building up enormous goodwill for the developer.

Notwithstanding the advent of RERA, it is not an exaggeration to say that there are developers, small and big, around the country for whom it is business as usual. They have their tested and trusted business model and a very loyal customer base who swear by the quality of the homes built and their timely delivery…two most important things for any customer. Many of these developers don’t even advertise their projects but the sales happen thanks to the references from their old, happy customers, thanks to their informal ways and means of remaining in contact with them.   It’s only when developers scale up and spread far and wide, the multi-layered hierarchy distances the customer and dilutes the relationship due to improper or poor customer handling. It is essential that developers in their enthusiasm to expand business don’t lose sight of their customers, leaving the customer relations to the mercy of the junior employees. Managements need to involve more in these initiatives and /or educate and empower the CRM team more to implement the management plans and ensure the customers remain a happy lot.

Every positive customer engagement, through whatever means, will slowly but surely turn the customers into favorable brand ambassadors for the developers, leading to easy and inexpensive positive referrals for the projects and bringing down the cost of acquiring new customers.  Time and money invested on a sustained, cordial customer engagement, will come back to benefit the developer immensely in more ways than one.

COVID-19 has halted the real estate industry also in its tracks. And it is a common apprehension and point of worry that new customers might take longer than expected to drop by and choose their new home. It has also presented a new reason and opportunity for builders across the country to reconnect with the existing customers and engage them in a delightful manner and carry them along through the times ahead.

It will not be a surprise, if these delighted existing customers turn out to be the most vocal and active sales persons churning out more sales than before for the developers.

Amen.

Author: PVS Bhanu Murthy

For more visit our website at https://www.bigrealty.co.in/

4 thoughts on “Good times or bad times… Take care of your existing customers

  1. Pl throw some light on the future of farm house projects .

    What according to you will be future scenario of these kind of projects.

    Will the prospective customers go for these projects post covid 19

    Will people realise and would want to be close to the nature.

    Like

    1. Devender,thanks for reaching out. Farm house projects are going to be popular in the coming years. customers are most likely to go for bigger plots than planned earlier for.. One would love to be locked up in a farm house, if COVID times were to repeat. With improved connectivity and easy commute, distances are not a bother. Reach for Mr.Srikanth Rayani of BigRealty on 6281725252 for interesting options.

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  2. Well said Bhanu sir. Customer service plays a very important role. After this lockdown is lifted, it will be the buyer’s market. It is in the hands of the CRM team to make sales happen from existing customers.

    Like

  3. Yes. The take from this subject is very well focused. The real sustaining power of a real estate business comes from a 100% well defined, well controlled, well managed customer care department which will only define the proper existence of a real estate organisation in a long run.
    A 100% satisfied Customer will be equal to 100 prospective leads coming up.
    But unfortunately organizations seldom practice and implement this strategy. They just talk and advertise. But end result will be lots of unsatisfied customers.

    Like

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