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The OSC: The answer to humanizing your new virtual process

The home-building industry is changing. Quickly. And whether we are ready or not, embracing and integrating technology into the builders’ process is what our consumers are demanding. We’re being met with options for 3D printing, virtual reality tours, virtual assistants to streamline selling processes and the list goes on. As with any innovative solution that promises to revolutionize how we operate, there is an unspoken threat to the old way of doing things. Status quo isn’t always bad because “how we’ve always done it” has laid the foundation for tried-and-true practices; practices which have built the foundation for previous success. Thus, utilizing technology to make our lives easier comes with an important question: “With all this technology, are we losing the much-needed human touch?”

 

This very question becomes pivotal as new home builders look to use the “self-guided model tour” as a method to allow buyers to explore their model homes when they are ready to. Nationally low-inventory means more and more buyers are exploring new construction; the buyer profile has a new expectation of their experience and when and how they will get information. With overloaded backlogs and waitlists to manage, our onsite sales agents don’t necessarily have the time to tour models at all hours of the day. Companies like Utour and NterNow have emerged with incredible solutions but the question still remains: How do we connect with our buyers if we never see them?

 

As an industry that is defined by the importance of customer service; how do we navigate this delicate balance of providing personalized human support while leveraging the digital tools that our customers have grown to expect?

 

Thankfully, the answer to the challenge has been right in front of our noses all along.  The Online Sales Counselor (OSC) is the perfect marriage of technology and humanity. Not only does your OSC understand how to use technology to build deeper relationships with prospective buyers, but they can also build the processes that will maintain that relationship well after that initial self-guided tour. The following are some of the key benefits that an OSC can provide in order to maximize the self-guided tour experience.

 

Before an OSC guided tour

When builders roll out new features, it’s often difficult to educate buyers once there is already some sort of awareness (and preconceived assumptions) of the project. Sometimes this new feature, in this case a self-guided tour, can seem so new that it’s off-putting. The OSC has the unique ability to mitigate uncertainty and educate the buyer while they’re still on the builder’s website. Most importantly, the OSC can qualify and guide the buyer to the correct model. There is nothing worse than a buyer self-touring a home that is not a good fit for them and, as a result, automatically crossing you off their short list without realizing you have more to offer.

 

Now let’s face it, the purpose of the self-guided tour is for a customer or agent to have the flexibility of touring models in their own time.  They may not call to schedule an appointment ahead of time.  However, they will call when they’re in the home to ask questions.  Having an OSC who is always prepared and ready to take a call will elevate the customer experience.

 

During an OSC guided tour

One of the biggest objection sales professionals have to a self-guided tour is that the customer is in the model home alone.  There is no one to ask questions in the moment and there is no guidance to point out certain features that would be important to that particular customer. One proposed solution would be that many of these concerns can be solved by well-placed signs. However, signs are just another form of feature dumping. Who will address the true doubts and concerns the customer is having about the purchase of a brand new home? Who will ask the questions that matter to that buyer and provide the answers tailored to their needs? A simple video chat queued up, ready at the push of a button may be the human touch that solves all of these obstacles. Your OSC having already qualified and interacted with the customer would be the perfect contactless model guide.  Even if the buyer has never spoken to your OSC, the OSC is well-versed in picking up a conversation and helping to guide towards understanding. Your OSC has the right amount of knowledge of all of your products to be able to create the next step for the buyer. This is OSC 101: discovery process, now with added props.

 

After an OSC guided tour

At this point the customer has seen the model and the OSC has discovered both what they are looking for in a new home and some of the objections they’re already coming up with. Now what? Now is the time where the OSC really shines. Your OSC will be able to make an educated recommendation for the buyer, create a personalized next step (typically, a 1:1 meeting to get down to brass tacks) and they’ll be able download all the information your salesperson needs to write up the sale via your CRM—they are after all, your technology pro.

 

While the way customers research and purchase homes has undoubtedly shifted to a more contactless and online experience, one thing remains the same: people buy from people they trust. By integrating the Online Sales Counselor into your self-guided tours, it enables opportunities for builders to both educate and create solid relationships with your customers.

Written By

Shari Morton

Shared Drive | CGO