May 04, 2022
What Do Homebuyers Expect From Their Home Builder Customer Experience?
Home builders may think their customer experience is up to par, but are they truly living up to homebuyer expectations? The home builder customer experience you deliver can make or break your brand. The series of interactions that occur between customers and your brand during the homebuying process, as well as how buyers perceive these exchanges has a significant impact on your company’s success.
Customer experiences ultimately determine your company’s reputation and reviews, as well as the quality of relationships you have with customers. When homebuyers enjoy a satisfying experience, they’re more likely to demonstrate greater loyalty and recommend home builders to new buyers.
Offering an exceptional home builder customer experience is a great way to establish stronger brand awareness, improve brand engagement and stand out from competitors. However, failing to meet homebuyer expectations causes your brand to fall flat against competitors, face buyer frustration and lose potential sales.
Why Does the Home Builder Customer Experience Matter?
Today is the Age of the Customer, meaning that buyers hold a great deal of power in driving business decisions. Resources like the internet and social media have given homebuyers easy access to form expectations about their customer experience. Thoroughly researching their options is common for most buyers, and it’s easier than ever for customers to know what a great experience looks like. The more buyers learn about outstanding experiences from the testimonials that other homeowners share, the more they expect home builders to deliver experiences that match that standard.
If done well, high-quality customer experiences can be a crucial factor that helps homebuyers decide to purchase with your company. In fact, 73% of consumers prioritize the customer experience when making a purchasing decision, regardless of your prices and quality. Homebuyers are willing to pay more when home builders can guarantee a fantastic experience.
As is this a top priority for your buyers, it’s crucial to remember that satisfied customers are undeniable assets. The happier your homeowners, the more referrals your company is likely to receive. And as we all know, the more prospects within the funnel, the more sales home builders can facilitate. Focusing on customer experience may be a long-term investment, but it provides substantial returns.
Improving your home builder customer experience comes down to meeting, and ideally exceeding, homebuyer expectations. If your company chooses not to live up to those expectations, prospective homebuyers will quickly move on to find a home builder that does. That’s why it’s important to assess the features and services competing home builders provide their customers and make note of the gaps in your brand’s customer experience.
Even if customer feedback is generally positive, why not aim to attract and satisfy even more new customers? There are never any drawbacks to elevating the customer experience – only missed opportunities to succeed!
Let’s take a look at several features, services and communication styles homebuyers expect from their home builder customer experience!
Setting Expectations Early
Many builders mistakenly assume that homebuyers have a greater understanding of the buying and building process than most actually do. However, several steps go into these processes and it’s easy for buyers to encounter instances of confusion. To ensure all parties are on the same page, builders should set realistic expectations from initial interactions to combat buyer misconceptions and assumptions about the next steps throughout the journey.
Setting expectations early on and proactively addressing common challenges allows home builders to avoid common customer complaints and misunderstandings. It’s critical to provide education to ensure buyers feel secure in knowing what to expect each step of the way. Improving a customer’s understanding of the homebuying or homebuilding process can be done through in-depth discussions or by providing helpful guides that customers can refer to throughout their experience. Creating and distributing explanatory homebuyer guides also helps substantially build their knowledge, while also providing a great marketing tool that complements the customer experience.
Buyers often mistrust builders and assume they prioritize their potential for sales over the customer experience. Communicating well from the start is a fantastic way to demonstrate that you’re committed to gaining their trust and providing a positive customer experience. The more you set the tone with thorough, informative communication, the easier it will be for each buyer to understand the process and enjoy a smooth customer experience.
Let’s face it – issues and bumps in the road are often inevitable when building a new home. Things don’t always go to plan or may be out of your control. But buyers want to know the status of their home, even if the update may be frustrating. Being kept in the dark about the building process for their new home is one of buyers’ biggest pet peeves. One of the most critical actions builders can take when problems arise is openly communicating with the buyer. If you know something may cause a significant delay or affect home pricing, be as proactive and timely as possible when delivering that information. Although it may displease them, waiting to mention it or never bringing it up at all will only lead to frustration and buyer mistrust.
Perfection isn’t possible as far as the homebuilding process, which makes it even more important to maintain transparency with the customer. Coming across a challenge and taking the time to discuss it with the buyer builds their trust, but smoothing over the situation can have detrimental effects on the relationship. The best way to provide a great home builder customer experience is by consistently maintaining transparency and honesty with every buyer.
Buyers want to feel like they’re part of the homebuilding journey, and that requires consistent conversations. Being transparent within every interaction is great, but only goes so far if you don’t speak with the buyer very frequently. To reduce their stress and help them feel informed, home builders must keep buyers informed through regular updates and chats that include summaries from the week, as well as plans for the upcoming one. Provide routine updates to buyers whether it’s through email, text messages or phone calls. If buyers want to contact you to have a more in-depth discussion about certain circumstances be sure to give them your time.
More Virtual Options
Virtual home selling features have quickly become a driving force within the homebuilding industry that has dramatically changed the way consumers explore homes. Although virtual reality isn’t new, the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased need for this technology. While these tools may have previously been strategies home builders could showcase out of curiosity, today, they have become an absolute must-have in today’s market.
The modern homebuying process has shifted so drastically that consumers refuse to turn back. Virtual tours and immersive 3D models are now the expectation for a high-quality home builder customer experience. When asked which technology features they would find most helpful during the home search, 61% of buyers said virtual home tours and 39% said property walkthroughs via video. The result of prioritizing these innovative tools is having the ability to offer a streamlined buying experience, as well as increased buyer satisfaction.
With virtual reality, buyers receive more realistic views of potential homes and gain more information to determine the best fit for their family all from the comfort of their own home. Inability to visit homes in person has become a thing of the past, and instead, buyers are embracing immersive experiences that allow them to virtually step into the home at any time, from anywhere.
There are several ways these digital tools can be implemented to simulate an in-person homebuying experience. Home builders could feature click-through representations on their website or experiences delivered to interested buyers through virtual reality headsets. These headsets enable buyers to better envision the home’s interior spaces while allowing home builders to deliver an elevated customer experience.
Another innovative option for transforming the homebuying process into a digital customer experience is a virtual design center. These tools allow buyers to easily browse all their design options, as well as view a realistic portrayal of the appointments within the virtual home. Many home builders also utilize apps that serve as communication tools to seamlessly send construction updates and other notes to homebuyers on a regular basis. This ties back to maintaining open, constant communication. By using these apps, homeowners receive peace of mind knowing the progress being made, while your company presents itself as forward-thinking and customer-focused.
If you don’t currently offer virtual reality, it’s time to consider how many other home builders buyers can choose from that do prioritize keeping up with trending buyer preferences. Investing in this technology tells customers that the company cares about standing out and providing an exceptional home builder experience. For many homebuyers, virtual features are a must-have that shouldn’t be overlooked if you want to gain their business!
Online Sales Counselor Assistance
Buying a home is a big decision, and it’s not one that homebuyers take lightly. The truth is that they want someone to help them along the buying journey and allow them to feel heard. That’s where Online Sales Counselors (OSCs) come in!
Hiring an OSC that actively engages your buyers sets high expectations for the customer experience from a buyer’s very first interaction with your company. Buyers will appreciate feeling prioritized as your OSC utilizes clarifying questions to actively inquire about their needs, expectations and goals for their new home. By guiding buyers through the homebuying process and learning about their desires, OSCs set the tone for your company as one that places the customer at the forefront.
Often buyers want someone to hold their hand throughout their homebuying experience, and OSCs are the supportive representatives they need to nurture them through the sales funnel. As buyers continuously engage in these positive interactions, feel understood and receive the information they need, they are more confident placing their trust in your brand.
Putting Homebuyers First
The way you address your buyers should be frequent, thorough and considerate. Ensure that every prospect is treated with importance, no matter the time or market circumstances. Don’t brush them off or ignore their interest when you don’t have homes or home sites to offer or provide feedback or comments that can be considered negative in terms of best offers or implying you don’t need another buyer in a hot market. Regardless of what your company is facing, the customer experience you provide should always remain consistent and positive. Your potential buyers should always be treated as a priority, even if you can’t sell to them right away. They may be back in the market in the future and how they are treated now will positively or negatively affect their perception of your company and your home buying process.
Home builders who have not appreciated all their prospects will suffer if they don’t shift their approach. Neglect your buyers during a hot market, and they won’t forget that treatment when the time is right for them to buy. If your competitor positively engaged them as you turned them away, they’ll easily know the right company to look to for their new home.
Builders that offer a consistent customer approach are often more highly regarded among homebuyers, while those that ignore buyer calls for communication often suffer tarnished reputations. Not only does treating your potential buyers well lead to greater chances of a future sale but it also builds brand reputation and positive word-of-mouth immensely.
What’s important to each of your buyers as they search for a new home? What are their preferred price points, locations, home designs, lifestyles, amenities, etc.? If you don’t already know, there’s no better time to find out!
Along with consistent and thorough communication, buyers need personalized messages that address their unique needs and preferences. Every buyer deserves a memorable, personalized experience that makes them feel that they’re more than just a potential sale, they’re a valued customer. Distributing personalized communication to each buyer makes it even easier for them to envision themselves in your homes the more relevant content they receive.
Exceed Expectations by Delivering an Exceptional Home Builder Customer Experience
Buyer demands and preferences are constantly shifting, and it’s up to home builders whether they will innovate or fall flat. Builders that fail to met buyer expectations are doomed to be left behind as buyers seek out exceptional customer experiences that incorporate modern selling strategies.
Take it from the Milesbrand team - we've been improving home builders' customer experiences for over 30 years, and we know keeping up with trends is the way to get ahead. Get started finding ways to elevate your home builder customer experience by reaching out to our team today!