Want to Improve Customer Experience? Focus on Employee Satisfaction

by Paul Cardis

“Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” -J.W. Marriott

If I asked you how you could improve your customer experience today, what would you say? Would you guess that employee satisfaction plays a key role in how your customers experience your brand?

By now, the link between employee satisfaction and customer experience is irrefutable. According to Forbes, which has called employee engagement the “wonder drug for customer satisfaction,” companies that lead in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees. Another impressive statistic? Workplace Research Foundation reports that employee engagement programs can increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year.

It makes sense. Satisfied employees are pleasant and engaged during customer interactions. They’re more helpful and willing go out of their way to solve customer issues. They feel connected to the brand, and are careful to portray it in a positive light. In sum, employees that feel engaged, trusted, and empowered will deliver the best customer service, ultimately improving the customer’s overall experience with the brand.

As for how to improve employee satisfaction — how to make employees feel engaged, trusted, and empowered — start by identifying the factors that play a role in their workplace happiness. Most likely, an employee’s relationship with their manager will significantly impact their level of contentment, as will their compensation. Make sure that your management team is skilled in leading others, and that your compensation package is competitive within the industry.

To improve employee satisfaction, I also recommend you go directly to the source. Ask your employees what your company can do to better serve them. Not only is treating your employees well the right thing to do, but it will also benefit your business in the long run.

Go forward,
Paul

Customer Experience: More Than a Cookie and a Smile

by Paul Cardis

What do wildly successful industry disruptors like Amazon, Starbucks, Tesla, and Apple have in common? They’re all built on a cornerstone of providing an exceptional customer experience. Customer experience, or CX, is all the rage in today’s corporate world, and for good reason. Without it you’re simply providing a product or service, which won’t be enough to excite today’s experience-hungry consumer.

What people fail to understand is that good CX does not have to be “perfect” CX. In fact, I can think of many examples of companies who have made mistakes or failed their customers in some way but still have a strong CX, which is enough to overcome their shortcomings. The key is the total amount of CX you offer, not whether or not it’s perfect.

For example, have you ever had to wait in line for a Starbucks coffee? I certainly have. In fact, every time I pass a Starbucks, whether it be near my office or at the airport, there’s a line at the drive-through or inside the store. Long lines are a major imperfection of this great company, but consumers overlook this flaw and continue to spend more and more money on their overpriced — but worth it — morning coffee. Now, Starbucks didn’t invent coffee or coffee shops, but they did revolutionize CX around coffee, creating massive wealth in the process.

Thinking about CX in other industries has led me to reflect on CX in the homebuilding industry. Why is it that homebuyers become incredibly upset when we inform them of a delay or let them know that something was installed incorrectly?  Why don’t homebuilders get the same level of forgiveness and tolerance that coffee drinkers around the world extend to Starbucks?

The answer? Our industry’s overall lack of CX. Without a doubt, a renewed focus on CX could carry the homebuying experience to a new level: a level that’s impervious to smaller imperfections. As an industry, we’re not there yet — but here at Avid, we’re working to provide our customers with insights that will help them reshape their CX and grow their business.

I’d like to invite you to contact our wonderful Client Success Managers at clientservices@avidratings.com to ask for a complimentary webinar on CX. Our team will schedule a time to share best practices that will ultimately strengthen your business.

Go forward,
Paul

 

The Power of Big Data in the Homebuilding Industry

by Paul Cardis

“Big data.” It’s been a buzzword since the early 2000s, but the homebuilding industry is just starting to wrap itself around the concept. What is big data and why should you care about it?

In essence, big data contains what Oracle calls the Three Vs of Big Data: a greater variety of data in increasing volumes and with ever-higher velocity. This means that big data is just larger, more complex data that one can use to make more insightful observations and takeaways. So, why should you care about big data? The answer is this: harness it, and you’ll be that much closer to achieving your business goals. Take a step back and evaluate your business as it stands today. Do you truly understand what your customers like and dislike? Could you describe exactly what they desire in a homebuilding experience?

Digging even deeper — do you have live data on each of your trade contractors to inform you of their performance out in the field? What about data on your products: do you know which model of toilets buyers prefer or which countertops are sure to delight?

Many builders rely solely on experience and anecdotal feedback from buyers to make multi-million dollar business decisions. But they don’t have to. By using the Avid platform builders can harness the power of big data to make more accurate, more efficient business decisions.

At Avid Ratings, our mission is to help clients advance their business goals by offering them cutting edge technology coupled with expert knowledge and dedicated customer service. We’ve recently secured additional funding which will allow us to expand our resources and enhance our products so that we can help our clients take their businesses to new heights. We thank you for joining us on this journey and we invite you to stay tuned as we release exciting new technology in the near future.

Go forward,
Paul

 

Homebuilding and Buying: How Millennials are Different

by Paul Cardis

If you’re at a loss when it comes to marketing to millennials, you’re not alone. A quick Google search on the subject yields approximately 26 million results: articles with titles like “8 Modern Tips for Marketing to Millennials,” “How to Market to Millennials: 5 Brands Who Are Doing it Right,” and “The Psychology of Marketing to Millennials.”

Millennials — the roughly 75 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996 — are about to bypass baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult population. That being said, it comes as no surprise that their buying preferences have significant impact on every industry they touch.

The beer industry is one that has been severely impacted by the purchase habits of millennials, who are creating a mounting crisis for beer industry giants like Coors Light, Budweiser, and Heineken. In fact, beer sales are slipping as millennials diverge from the preferences of preceding generations, choosing wine and spirits over beer. Some key players in the beer industry, to their credit, have started to adapt to millennial preferences, launching new products in an attempt to reverse declining sales.  

Another industry being shaken up by millennials? You guessed it — the home buying and homebuilding industry. Millennials are different buyers than the generations that came before them. A few key buying habits define them:

  1. They’re very cautious and they want to be informed. Millennials grew up during the great recession. Some saw their parents struggle to pay their mortgage, or even lose their home. On top of that, many millennials carry a ton of student debt. As a result, they won’t make homebuilding decisions lightly, and they’ll seek out as much information as possible prior to making a decision. Homebuilders that can provide comprehensive information and be readily accessible to answer questions will thrive in a millennial-dominated market.  

  2. They’re quick studies, thanks in part to technology, but they’re also uneasy buyers. Millennials have access to millions of online resources, and they may be more educated first-time home buyers than the generations who came before them. However, an abundance of resources doesn’t necessarily alleviate anxiety. Industry surveys have shown that a whopping 87% of millennial homebuyers still feel uneasy about the homebuying process. Again, homebuilders that are upfront and transparent, and can provide information and resources that will allay millennials’ nerves will come out on top.   

  3. They’re highly attuned to homebuilding trends around the world. Through the magic of the internet, millennials are in the know when it comes to the latest homebuilding trends, and will expect homebuilders to execute on their vision. Homebuilders that stay on top of industry trends and remain carefully attuned to their millennials clients’ needs will thrive.

Another important thing to keep in mind is tech-savvy millennials’ reliance on online reviews. Buyers — especially cautious, information-seekers like millennials — want to know how the homebuilders are reviewed and rated by other buyers. Honest, peer recommendations are of the utmost importance.

So, as millennials become an increasingly important part of the homebuilding industry, I encourage you to take a proactive approach to meeting their needs — needs which are different than those of the first-time homebuyers who have come before them. Your business will be better off because of it.  And as I always say, millennials won’t buy a pizza without a star rating – why would they make the most important purchase of their life – buying a home – without a star rating.

Transparency: What Clients & Customers are Looking For

by Paul Cardis

Giving customers what they want is the name of the game when it comes to running a business, no matter what type of product or service you provide. And one thing we can be certain customers want is transparency. According to Label Insight, 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency. In other words, if your company’s policies and products come off as anything approaching opaque, you’re fighting a losing battle. Without easy access to the information they crave, homebuyers will look elsewhere.  

So, the question remains: how can you differentiate your brand by offering a level of transparency that sets you apart? For starters, homeowners want more detailed information regarding the makeup of their home. They want to know:

  1. Where the materials originated
  2. How the materials were made
  3. Whether the materials are environmentally friendly

Most importantly, however, buyers want to know how the homebuilders are reviewed and rated by other buyers. Companies spend a significant amount of money on advertising but often underestimate the power of online reviews. Pretty pictures and virtual home tours can only go so far — eventually, customers want honest peer recommendations.

So, in the spirit of transparency, I encourage you to be proactive and share with homebuyers both the good and the bad, giving them a full representation of your company. You’ll be surprised by the effect transparency has on your business.

Not convinced? We can all learn a lesson from Facebook’s biggest PR crisis to date, when a number of shady, opaque policies led to the manipulation of pre-election public opinion. In the aftermath, Facebook has promised to start taking transparency seriously. More on that here.

The Skilled Worker Shortage

Out of the many homebuilders our team works with, the vast majority call worker shortage their top problem when it comes to delivering projects on budget and on time. As we see the market recover, the greatest problem we face is the trade shortage. Simply put, those who worked in the market prior to the downturn have not come back. Furthermore, millennials are not stepping in to take jobs in trade industries, such as construction, which is adding to the shortage.

The experts at MarketWatch put together a very informative article that highlights this problem and provides a national focus on the issue along with ways we can fix the labor shortage going forward. In the end, nobody really knows what we are going to do as we have over 150 million young kids entering the housing market with a shortage of housing for them sure to follow. Builders may be able to fill the void, but not if we don’t have the trade base to execute the work.

We are grateful to MarketWatch for including Avid Ratings in the story. Read the full article here.

Happy reading,

Paul

 

What the Latest News on TripAdvisor Means For Our Industry

Paul Cardis - Avid Ratings

Ask yourself how often a customer review or product star rating has influenced your purchasing decision. Many of us have come to trust and rely on customer online reviews as it offers peace of mind – especially when it’s something that we haven’t purchased before.  If a business removes negative reviews or falsifies the information shared by a consumer, the impact can be far greater than simply a loss of business or a wavered purchasing decision.  In an article published about TripAdvisor, a popular online travel resource, we’ve learned that reviews posted by travelers on the site were removed by the company, and the reviews could have kept travelers out of harm’s way.

The TripAdvisor news is a wake-up call for all companies who are not aware of the Consumer Review Fairness Act. The federal law protects consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products or services and prohibits companies from suppressing negative consumer reviews. For many, this seems obvious but TripAdvisor was regularly allowing clients to suppress negative feedback from consumers on the TripAdvisor website, jeopardizing the safety of travelers to certain areas in Mexico. This is wrong on many fronts and TripAdvisor should be held accountable for allowing this to happen.

In this case, the lesson for the homebuilding industry is that review washing is illegal. The Consumer Review Fairness Act is a federal law being prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Furthermore, if you are using a survey system that simply makes it “easy” for you to suppress your negative reviews from appearing online, you need to stop engaging in that practice and likely switch providers. Your current survey company could be the next TripAdvisor and with it your surveys could cease to show up at all online.  We know consumers depend upon verified customer reviews, and without them, your company could suffer significant damage.  Worse yet, you could become the poster child for the FTC on review washing and that would be bad for the entire industry.

There is no easy quick fix to bad reviews and if someone is selling you that option, buyer beware. There are safe and legal options to manage your reviews that are fully compliant with federal laws. Seek a provider who understands this and can keep you in safe harbor.

 All the best,

 Paul

Voting Is Now Open for the Industry Choice – Best Digital Home Tour

GoTour Industry Choice - Best Digital Home Tour

Avid Friends,

In September we announced that Avid is once again a premier sponsor for The Nationals Sales and Marketing Awards at the 2018 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida. Our goal with The Nationals is to help the homebuilding industry recognize leading technologies that deliver amazing customer experiences for homebuyers.

Voting is now open for the Industry Choice – Best Digital Home Tour. From now through November 15th navigate to www.votewithavid.com to vote for your favorite digital home tour. Digital home tour submissions will be judged on overall integration of user experience, aesthetics, and design of the home, as well as the level of metadata available.

The winner will be announced and presented with their award at The Nationals 2018 on January 9th in Orlando, Florida.

Good luck to all participants!

We invite you to vote for your favorite digital home tour at votewithavid.com.

All the best,
Paul

The Trade Shortage Dilemma

In this installment of Avid Today, we focus on the trade shortage dilemma facing the entire industry. Rather than bemoan a difficult reality, we are sharing innovative and inspirational stories to show how homebuilding can become more efficient without sacrificing quality and customer satisfaction.
First we hear from Mark Hodges, who oversaw one of the most ambitious projects in our industry, building an entire production home in just 6 days!!! We were very fortunate to observe this project and are grateful to have Mark himself sharing the story… enjoy.
We also have a video of one of the first bricklaying robots developed for the homebuilding industry. This is without question a glimpse into our future and frankly, these advancements are happening much faster than most of us realize. This video is a must see.

See SAM in action:

Interview with Scott Peters, President & Co-Fonuder, Construction Robotics:

All the best,
Paul

Do The Right Thing

Although it has now been three months since the U.S. federal government passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, many builders still lag a bit behind in ensuring they are compliant. In this issue of Avid Today, we focus on integrity, company culture and simply “doing the right thing”. Not only is this ethically and legally correct, but it is best for improving your business and obtaining long-term success.

The following actions are now in direct violation of FTC guidelines, and your company can be fined $100,000s and be publically named as a violator on the FTC website:

  • Having employees fill out surveys or provide public-facing customer reviews (on sites such as Facebook, Google, Yelp or any other) without disclosing they are an employee of your company in the review.
  • Providing any type of compensation to customers for their reviews without disclosing this fact on the review page. (Note: This disclosure is automatically included for all Avid clients within the GoSocial engine.)
  • Deleting negative surveys or falsifying results by entering fabricated surveys. The analogy I like to give: Imagine you are a vitamin company and you claimed your products cured cancer, citing research supporting their effectiveness while deleting the results of patients who had poor outcomes, only reporting the positive; or worse, you simply made up the results. This is clearly in violation of consumer protection laws. Likewise, customer reviews and star ratings are increasingly being viewed in the same light.

In the end, a company with a culture that endorses “doing the right thing” will always win out. Unfortunately, I have seen companies who haven’t created that bright line of what is acceptable or not, and like a cancer this lack of integrity spreads, driving out the good employees who are the lifeblood of your organization.

Simply, do the right thing and great things will happen.