Self-Service Tech Thrives During Coronavirus

Software tools deliver improved convenience and control during stay-at-home mandates

By Lisa Meylor

Business agility, the ability to adapt in order to maintain the delivery of quality goods and services to customers, has never been more important than in this pandemic year. Many real estate companies are struggling with the new normal – the what, when, where and how of their business model in the face of COVID-19. But, with self-service technology (SST), homebuilders can adapt their service model while maintaining a quality customer experience.

In many ways, SST tools were already ahead of the game in their ability to cater to the homebuyer values of quickness and convenience. Well before stay-at-home mandates, customers preferred to remain at home during the information-gathering stage of homebuying. In many places, it’s no longer even possible to wait in line for information or hear an in-person sales pitch. Tools with real-time information about housing availability, lot location, and community look and feel save precious time through enhanced access and service delivery while elevating the customer experience.

With SST, such as CPS’ SiteViewer, homebuilders, apartment developers and property managers can not only deliver critical, on-demand home pricing and availability information straight to the fingertips of prospective buyers and renters in lieu of physical trips to a sales or leasing center, but also provide the prospective buyer with the builder story and a neighborhood tour. Customers can also leverage dynamic web-based, self-service maps updated instantaneously through a builder or developer’s CRM system or admin website.

Builders and developers see the value, too. Sitemaps can track key components including start date, current stage of construction, planned completion/availability date and, in the case of a for-sale home, the estimated close of escrow and actual close. While most online sitemaps are part of a larger application, SiteViewer is a stand-alone application that includes additional data about each lot or unit across the company’s sales, construction and warranty departments. Homebuilders can even use data analytics to learn about the evolving digital journey to better anticipate customer needs.

Buyers have always been faced with a complex, weighty process, especially when considering the biggest purchase of their lives. Now, with Coronavirus, it’s even more complicated. Simplicity and savings, both in time and stress, are even more essential during today’s buyer journey. According to one study*, consumers who have a very good customer experience versus a very poor one are five times more likely to recommend a homebuilder – a number likely to go up during these challenging times.

In the information age, buyers want more details before arriving on property, demanding high-volume data with even lower personal impact. With softwares such as SiteViewer, companies can display the real-time sitemap online, allowing prospective buyers to check the current inventory via their phone, tablet or computer. The technology goes in-depth, allowing buyers to select specific lots to see elevations, scroll through floor plan details, access brochures and much more.

It should be no surprise that homebuying – the biggest consumer purchase – requires the most effort in research and due diligence. SST facilitates that critical flow of information, helping both buyer and builder, freeing up the latter’s human resources during a sensitive time of physical distancing and pandemic precautions.

Greater agility for builders means enhanced ability for homebuyers. SST solutions offer reduced costs for homebuilders, catering to the key preferences of home shoppers, and more efficiency for everyone involved. As social distancing measures continue, builders and developers should emphasize the importance of providing a quality online experience for buyers. Not only does SST help with concierge-level service, it’s also a long-term solution for selling or leasing homes in the digital era, whether online or in-person.

Lisa Meylor is the Marketing Manager for Computer Presentation Systems (CPS, Inc), a Sacramento-area software development company that has provided solutions to new home builders for over 35 years. She may be reached at cpsusa.com.

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