In this customer journey map series, we’re diving deeper into each phase of the homebuyer journey to help homebuilders create a better customer experience.
Not sure what customer journey mapping is or how to do it? We have an entire guide for housing professionals that explains what it is, why it’s valuable, and steps to create a map. If you missed our articles about the inspiration and discovery phase and the decision-making phase you can find them here.
The third phase of the homebuyer journey is the selections and construction phase. Your prospective customer has officially signed their contract and now it’s time for the design and decor meetings and construction to go underway.
Tips for nailing the selections phase of homebuying
The selections phase can be an (understandably) overwhelming and emotional process for homebuyers. The goal during this phase should be to provide a comfortable, helpful, and pressure-free environment.
Learn about the common selection phase pain points and how you can create a better experience for your homebuyers with these tips.
Design and decor meeting
At this point buyers have usually visited your design center as a part of the inspiration and discovery stage of their journey, so they’re excited to begin making selections. But there are a few potential problems to be aware of.
First, homebuyers are much more aware of the options “available” to them in the market than ever before. HGTV, Pinterest, and other design-focused media have heavily influenced homebuyer desires and understanding of the homebuilding process. Homebuyers are also doing more research on textiles, paint, flooring, and home products, which can give them unrealistic expectations about what options are available to them. It’s important at this touchpoint to realign homebuyer expectations with what your company offers for standard selections and explain the reasoning and value of those selections (price, warranty, style, etc.).
Secondly, more choices do not necessarily mean greater homebuyer satisfaction. In fact, too many choices can lower satisfaction scores because homebuyers are overwhelmed and stressed about making decisions. To mitigate these negative feelings, it’s best to showcase pre-defined designer palettes for design elements, simplifying the decision-making process.
Thirdly, it’s important to think of the design center environment and experience like a retail-shopping trip. The atmosphere should be relaxed and customer-focused with an efficient layout and flow, and selection options and upgrades clearly showcased.
Lastly, “value of options for price paid” is a common pain point for homebuyers. If the experience you provide delivers positive, rewarding, and informative interactions, the value of building a home with you increases. The opposite is true if the experience is overwhelming, disappointing, or unpleasant in any way. That’s why it’s necessary to provide homebuyers with enough time and information to make their design selections with confidence.
The pre-construction meeting is an opportune time to reinforce your company as an expert guide for the homebuilding journey. The most important pain point to consider at this meeting is the difficulty homebuyers can have visualizing plans or renderings as a home that will exist in real-life. Patience here is key. Take the time to explain the plan, go into detail, cover proposed schedules, upcoming milestones the homebuyers should expect, and confirm any plan change requests that were made.
This is also a good time to discuss the possibility of delays, backorders, and weather condition issues during construction. Communicating the potential for setbacks early on helps control homebuyer expectations and avoid dissatisfaction associated with the “unknown”.
Discussing expectations and policies for visiting the site while under construction is also important for managing homebuyer satisfaction. Clearly explain the procedure for visiting the site (e.g scheduling an appointment and not showing up unannounced), why these procedures are in place (control workflow and efficiency, the site may not be safe at certain times, etc.), and the safety equipment they need to have with them.
Tips for nailing the construction phase of homebuying
Once construction begins, homebuyers often feel a bit abandoned. The attention they received during the initial stages of the sales, design, and pre-construction meetings has “faded away” with the focus now on construction. To overcome any feelings of disconnect or even regret, proactive and strategic communication is imperative. Here’s how to provide reassurance and a positive experience for your homebuyers during construction.
Construction update communication
A very simple way to make homebuyers feel more secure and happy with their homebuilding journey is to send progress updates, videos, and pictures of the construction regularly. Ask each homebuyer what their preferred method of communication is (email, text, phone call, etc.) to deliver a more personalized experience.
It’s also a great idea to send additional messages about upcoming homebuyer responsibilities and meetings to keep the homebuyer engaged. You want to maintain their excitement for the finished home and continue managing their expectations to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Not all builders have a pre-drywall meeting, but data does show it increases customer satisfaction. At this point, the frame is up and the home is coming to life, which is a great time to bring your homebuyer to the site to get a feel for the layout. You can point out switch and receptacle locations, plumbing and HVAC details, and any other features beneficial for the homebuyer’s knowledge before the drywall covers them up. You also have a special opportunity to show off the unique quality differentiators of your construction and design to reinforce your buyer’s decision to work with you.
Additionally, this is a chance to bring up the next milestone in the construction process to keep buyers engaged with the process and to start educating them about warranty coverage and service.
Pre-delivery orientation scheduling
During this conversation, you have the opportunity to inform homebuyers of any items they should plan to complete prior to the appointment such as getting movers scheduled. This is also another time to review all of your warranty and service documents with them, as well as third-party warranty information if applicable.
The pre-delivery orientation is often considered an inspection, but it’s really the home reveal. The homebuyers are seeing the finished home for the first time, so make the moment special. As you walk them through the home reinforce their decisions; Point out the benefits of the layout and how great their design selections look. It’s also a good idea to educate the buyer on how their home operates, which further solidifies you as an expert guide for the homebuilding journey.
Closing and key delivery
The most important thing to consider for closing day is providing a smooth, positive, and celebratory moment for the homebuyers. There is a lot of information to review and understand at this point, so make sure you have all the documents and home details the homebuyer needs in an accessible, digestible format that they can refer to at any time. You want them to leave feeling confident they have the tools they need to manage and maintain their investment.