CRM Strategies for Home Builder & Real Estate
Lead With Strategy
As I’ve stressed from the outset, CRM is first and foremost a strategy, not a technology. Your first step should not be a software purchase; it should be an examination of how your company could become more customer-centric—and how it could benefit from such an approach. Know what you want to achieve and why you’re doing it. Once you’ve identified some target areas, you can look at how technology could help you streamline and automate the processes that affect the customer experience, helping ensure consistency and efficiency and embedding best practices into the system.
Choose the Right Technology
Software selection criteria will, of course, vary widely from company to company. Different software will be appropriate for different companies, based on their size, budget, processes, and goals. The most important overarching advice I can give on this point is to take care not to be shortsighted in your selection. Tackling one problem at a time is a great way to achieve “quick wins” and make a large project more manageable and affordable. But unless you’re thinking ahead, you could wind up with a different software solution for each problem—and an integration nightmare, the costs of which could exceed the initial software purchases.
Selecting a modular system or looking at phased roll-outs of a broader system are options you might want to consider. Another form of shortsightedness some builders succumb to is assuming that their needs today will be their needs tomorrow. All you have to do is consider the last five years to realize that market conditions and enabling technologies are forever changing— and builder processes need to evolve along with them. Whatever technology solution you choose to facilitate your customer for life strategy, ensure that it can grow with your organization and that it offers the flexibility to accommodate evolution in your needs and focus.
You don’t want to have to change systems in a few years due to changes in requirements or the growth of your organization.
Don’t Launch Until You’re Ready
The faster you get your new processes and systems off the ground, the faster you’ll start reaping the rewards, right? Not so—in fact, moving too fast can guarantee a new solution never gets off the ground at all. There are some critical steps you must take before launching to ensure your project is successful.
The first is making certain that your data quality is good. It’s sad but true: dirty data in means dirty data out. I’ve seen companies think they were dealing with software defects, when in fact they had simply migrated a bad database into a good system. As unglamorous as it may be, every bit of time and effort invested in data hygiene pays off several times over when it comes time to use the system.
Similarly, thorough testing is absolutely crucial. Whether there are software glitches, bad data sources, or unnatural workflows, any problem with the system will be a barrier to user acceptance.
Why invest time in data hygiene and testing up front? The answer is that even small system glitches at launch time, even if they can be easily fixed, can turn users against the system altogether—and you’ll have to work twice as hard to win them back. It’s just like the final walkthrough of a home with new homebuyers: if they discover problems of any kind, their first impression will be negative and they will be more disposed to find ongoing fault with the home, whereas a spotless walkthrough will lead to happier customers who respond less negatively to any future problems. First impressions have lasting repercussions, and users who see the new system as flawed will not be eager to adopt it.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Success!
It’s not hard to see why strategies designed to maximize the lifetime value and satisfaction of customers are profitable and appealing to home builders. And if you follow a few simple best practices in planning and implementing your strategy, there’s no reason putting such a strategy in motion should be difficult, either.
With a customer-for-life strategy supported by enabling technologies, home builders are positioned to achieve and maintain a competitive edge—not to mention a happy, supportive, and valuable customer base.
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