Blending digital sales techniques with real world strategies
Worldwide spending on customer experience (CX) technologies is expected to reach $641 billion in 20221 – an incredible number that signals not only a huge demand from customers, but a commitment by companies to prioritize and invest in it. And it’s more important than ever in the largest consumer industry — homebuilding. During this pivotal time in our industry, the right virtual sales and marketing strategies are key to enhancing the overall homebuying experience.
Many home shoppers start the home shopping journey online, and optimizing the digital experience to be fast, responsive, and frictionless across various channels and devices is important. The pandemic normalized online shopping for homes and as such, customers have come to expect expansive digital features and robust functionality, such as the ability to “walk” through the home, add and personalize options and experience the community virtually.
Convene with Convenience
For Tri Pointe Homes, virtual sales and marketing strategy starts with the home search. A digital home shopping toolbox allows customers to begin the process on their own time, at their own pace, from wherever they’re most comfortable. It begins by using the online Find Your Home Search tool to narrow down the location or community the person is interested in, then filter by price, square footage, or even choose from available move-in ready homes or homes that will be ready at a future date.
The ease and ability to meet with an online New Home Specialist has become a very popular part of Tri Pointe’s customer journey. In the pre-virtual days, it could be more difficult to schedule appointments and tours, especially when customers were relocating from out of town. Juggling tight in-person schedules, then making a quick decision while they were in town over a couple days, was usually not the best way to boost the customer experience. Now with virtual appointments and online tools that allow home shoppers to get so much information early in the process, a lot of that stress and extra effort is significantly minimized and the experience improved.
More than 80 percent of millennials – currently the largest generation of homebuyers – would like to view 3D virtual tours and digital floor plans2 when shopping for a home. That’s a rather big confirmation of one of the biggest homebuying innovations to emerge over the last few years.
Customers who have found a neighborhood they like but aren’t sure which floor plan will best accommodate their lifestyle can take a quick and easy virtual look. On virtual tours, people can view kitchens made for chef-inspired creations, closet space to dream of and outdoor living for relaxing and entertaining. This helpful interactive tool leads many to discover their ideal home but could also help a person decide to build a new home from the ground up.
While photos show customers how each room looks, it’s hard to really know how a home flows without walking through it. A virtual tour lets customers experience the home without leaving theirs. They can stand in the great room to imagine where they will put their furniture, or view the kitchen layout to see if it suits their cooking style. When the customer finds a home they love, a new home specialist can arrange an in-person tour.
Interactive Floor Plans
Customers should be able to use technology such as interactive floor plans to experiment with different home options like flex spaces, offices, lofts, game rooms, extra bedrooms, or a multi-generational suite. Perhaps a customer would appreciate easy outdoor access from several rooms. Using the interactive floor plans, customers can even arrange furniture virtually to envision how their own furniture might fit into their new space. Nothing’s more important and personal than a person’s home — it should be able to bring out their inner designer, customizing and personalizing the visual setup to their heart’s content.
In 2020, while Tri Pointe Homes’ Houston division saw reductions in overall in-person consumer traffic due to the pandemic, the company’s website traffic was increasing. With innovations already available, including virtual home tours, an online design center, and more advanced features, it quickly became clear how important it was for a technology-driven company like Tri Pointe to offer even more virtual, interactive tools and other digital assets to serve cross-channel demand.
While physical distancing and other pandemic-era restrictions have lessened, a customer’s embrace of convenience never will. They demand speed and options, and information should never be further away than their fingertips. While the desire for customers to have in-person visits is still evident, Tri Pointe will continue to invest in virtual sales and marketing strategies to enhance the overall home shopping and buying experience.
Article by Rhoda Davignon, Vice President of Community Experience, Tri Pointe Homes® Houston. For more information, visit www.TriPointeHomes.com.