It’s not enough to meet your customers’ expectations. You must exceed those expectations.
One way to do this is by implementing what Bob Mirman, CEO of Eliant Experience Management and co-author of our upcoming book on the homebuyer experience, calls “planned surprises. Let’s talk about customer care in new home sales.
I want to talk about your customer’s bank account. Not their actual bank account but their experiential bank account. Every customer loosely monitors a kind of bank account of experiences throughout their buying process. Good experiences provided by the home builder or the sales representative are deposited into that account. Bad experiences act as withdrawals. The objective, of course, is never to be overdrawn.
This requires an intentional effort to seek out deposit opportunities, but it also requires a strategic and systematic process for doing so. There is an intentionality to this concept that is simple to grasp but too often ignored. This is an opportunity for a huge payoff with relatively minimal effort.
The Planned Surprise Strategy
It’s a process based upon a remarkably simple premise. If you do what your customers expect, you get satisfied homebuyers. When you surprise your customers with unexpected experiences, you get elated home buyers. Let me break that down. When you meet your promises and commitments, you get satisfied homebuyers, right? You told them what you would do, and then you did it.
You don’t get extra credit when the food server brings you their food. That’s what they’re supposed to do. But since satisfied customers neither passionately nor proactively refer their friends to you. Customer satisfaction must not be the end goal. The goal is to create frequent, passionate referrals from ecstatic home buyers.
Think about it for a moment, passion is an essential element of a referral. When was the last time you received a passionate endorsement of an excellent tuna sandwich or a good pencil? People are not passionate about such things, so they do not offer referrals. The presence of passion drives referrals both positive and negative, by the way. So to help you reach that goal, you need to look for ways to delight homebuyers by doing small and unexpected extras that will take them by surprise, delivering just a bit more than they expected from their salesperson.
You must consistently perform in a manner that compels home buyers to tell their friends. Oh, I never expected my salesperson to, whatever it is. I can finish that sentence in any number of ways. I never expected my salesperson to remind me of the AYSO soccer sign-ups. I never expected my salesperson to arrange a block party for the neighbors. I never expected my salesperson to deliver pizza on our move-in day. I never expected my salesperson to pick up our used boxes after we unpacked.
Don’t think that any of this has to be over the top. It doesn’t. Most of our client’s planned surprises are low-cost or no-cost items. Here are some ideas:
- A photo at contract signing
- Emailing school schedules
- Little league sign-up alerts
- A list of community events coming up in the next six months
- Email tips to help make the home packing process more efficient
- Custom home builder keychains
- Builder branded packing box labels
- Introductions to backyard landscape companies
- An interior design magazine
You see, these small little moments may come as a surprise to your customers, but your team should plan them for a systematic delivery process to every home buyer.
Don’t leave this activity to chance or to last-minute impulse. Now, look, this is important. The key is to deliver these planned surprises as surprises. Don’t ever promise or allude to these surprises. You should not mention these planned surprises to prospective home buyers as a means of bragging about the home builder’s commitment to delighting their customers. Surprise is the required element to the success of the process. If customers know what’s coming, they’ll receive what they’re now expecting. And this only creates satisfaction, not delight.
It’s time to do far more than meet expectations. Let’s blow past those expectations and provide truly world-class service. As a reminder, my new book, From Contract to Close, co-written by Bob Mirman, is available for preorder today. Go to shop.jeffshore.com to reserve your copy for a reduced price and with some special bonuses that will be coming soon.
Until next time, learn more to earn more!