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April 2012

Loyalty and the Y Generation

By | Understanding Generational Differences: How to Appeal to Different Age Groups | No Comments

Loyalty and the Y Generation: When it comes to Brand Trust and Loyalty, Gen Y is Different

Gen Y is different. When it comes to brand trust and loyalty they are vastly different from their parents. They have single-handedly flipped the marketing model upside down. Lifetime trust to a brand is for the most part, over. They don’t trust brands or the marketing companies put behind them. When you consider that Gen Y is the fastest growing generation in the marketplace you can understand why this is creating a quandary for marketers.

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Y Generation Traits

By | Understanding Generational Differences: How to Appeal to Different Age Groups | No Comments

Y Generation Traits

In the Y generation world, your brand message is passed along virally through word-of-mouth – or word-of-mouse! – via Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, direct SMS/text messages and more. What an impact this makes to your brand and to your bottom line.

So how do you form that relationship with this “millennial” customer you’ve never met or are meeting for the first time?

  1. Your reputation MUST precede you! You’ve got to get in the social media game – interact with current customers, engage them in an online format so they will tell their friends about you. Don’t fear online ratings sites; research shows that 68% trust sites with mixed reviews (rather than merely those with only good things to say). They want to know they are getting both sides of the story!
  2. Be the person you represent yourself as! It’s still about truth in advertising. Your online listings must be truly representative of your product and more importantly their real customer experience must mirror what they have “heard” about you!
  3. Remember, Generation Y wants what you’ve got if you can persuade them you’ve got what they need. They need the latest and greatest in products, services, and technology – whether that’s the newest gym equipment, free Wi-Fi connectivity, a cool coffee lounge, or simply the ease of communicating with you online 24/7.

Interestingly, the Y generation traits have NOT shown brand loyalty in buying patterns. In fact, Martin & Turley (Article International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management) describe Gen Y as a “free spending but hard to reach generation”.

Yes, when it comes to brand trust and loyalty Gen Y are vastly different from their parents. Lifetime trust in any brand just isn’t part of their dynamic. They do not place their trust in a brand, nor do they buy into advertising and traditional marketing campaigns. 62% are apathetic to traditional advertising messages. (hanifinloyalty.com)

In sales, there is no “one size fits all”. You truly need to understand each customer’s unique needs and how to go about connecting with them in order to build the kind of relationship that inspires them to buy from you. It’s still true – people buy from people they like!

As the Millennial or Y generation has entered the market, salespeople have struggled with how to relate to this younger, ever social, collaborative generation. Being referred to as dependent on technology is not offensive to them – they like being connected: relying on a handy cell phone with Internet, chatting, and GPS ever ready for their latest query or social exchange.

“62% of young adults are apathetic to traditional advertising messages.”

Less information once made it easier to earn and retain loyal customers. Not the case today. The Y Generation Millennials are the first generation in US history to come of age long having had access to tools with which to make their own independent choices. Still, who does the Y generation trust? Family. Friends. Social Networks. And not necessarily in that order! Nobody agrees with their friends or family all the time.  Gen Y is constantly on the prowl for input even from people they do not know who share their opinions in an open forum.

For Generation Y, it’s all about the relationship, the experience, and the NOW factor!

The Y Generation trusts the opinions of their family, their friends, and their social networks. They also trust in the benevolence of someone they have never met who takes time to share their feelings online about you and your product or service.

They embrace a kind of global collaboration effort in educating each other as fellow citizens of the planet – helping all to make the best choices. Even in the absence of a prior personal relationship they feel joined with their often-massive social networks with whom they share and communicate daily via the Internet.

As such, the way to reach this Generation and ultimately be able to sell them on you and your products and services, is to give them every opportunity to connect with you even before they choose to do business with you!

 They need to know what you can do for them today, tomorrow, and in the future. It is harder to get brand loyalty from Gen Y, but once you’re “in”, this generation consistently rates its favorite brands 12% higher than other generations’ rate theirs. Their loyalty may be harder to earn, but its value is immense. They are vocal about products they love!

At the end of the day, the Y Generation is loyal to self – they will pay for the product and service that really hits home with them, but only to the extent that it grows with them and continues to be their ‘best’ choice.

 

What Is Customer Centricity and Why Does It Matter?

By | Customer Experience & Engagement: Keeping the Customer You Earned | No Comments

What Is Customer Centricity and Why Does It Matter?

Listening to the Voice of the Customer

Amidst the exponential growth of social media as a marketing tool and powerful influence to buyers of all demographics, we hear buzzwords like customer experience, customer centricity, and voice of the customer. Where does one end and the other begin?

Creating an exceptional customer experience by building on customer centric principles derived from listening to your customer’s voice is an unending but mutually beneficial process.

As businesses who are partners in our customers’ ultimate happiness, we must listen, learn, and act – then repeat!

In an era when one poor customer experience such as, the story that hit the internet airways: “United breaks guitar” can go “Viral” (in his case to the tune of over 11 million visits and counting!) and cost your business exponentially, it’s the voice of that single customer that must be heard and responded to effectively and timely in order to sustain and grow your business.

Providing great customer service is important, but it is an ‘inside looking out’ process – you have an array of products and services and you have developed a marketing program to aid your onsite staff in supporting those products and services in the best way possible. If they are projecting the desire to assist your prospects and customers, then surely you are perceived as “caring” and as a company people want to do business with. Right?

Wrong – even companies who provide excellent customer service may not be providing the “ultimate customer experience“.

Customer centric businesses at their core understand that to achieve success as an organization, you must first help the customer achieve their individual goals.

The premise of customer centric behavior is that of being on the ‘outside looking in’. Instead of traditional satisfaction surveys that only gauge your customer’s opinion of existing products and services, in order to become customer-centric you must determine what it is your customer needs most and begin to deliver on that.

For example, do your residents actually read that monthly newsletter you place on their door, or would they rather receive a text or email a few days in advance of social events?  Is it more important to have a 2000 sq foot fitness center, or would your residents benefit more from using a portion of that space for a viewing theatre? Is space a valuable commodity, or does style and finish-out have a bigger draw?

It is all about the customer’s wants and needs

Once you understand what customers are seeking, you can brainstorm and devise mutually advantageous solutions. Of course, with planning comes the need for implementation, and that takes time and effort. It also requires buy-in at all levels of the organization to the idea that the voice of the customer reigns supreme. Listen or not – it could well be a prime deciding factor in the long-term success of the company.

You can only make yourself more appealing if you know what the customer needs and desires – what they value in a home. The most straightforward way you can accomplish this is to ASK the right questions.  But, even if you aren’t asking – your customers are talking! And even if you are not listening, someone is – probably a great number of ‘someones’ – because they are telling everyone they know and thousands they do not via the Internet and social media how they feel about you.

Rather than sitting back and hoping for the best, you need to be proactive. Seek out the voice of your customer! Listen to and focus on the perceptions they have about your products and services. Doing so will enable you to make changes that impact those perceptions for the better, resulting in a positive effect on profitability and long term success.

Responding to customer feedback is vital to your success!

By embracing a customer centric corporate culture, you not only add value to your company but differentiate yourself from competitors who do not offer the same customer experience.

While our focus is on resident retention, “customer service is customer service”. Please visit our resident surveys page for additional tips and information on how to effectively survey your customers and extract that valuable customer feedback which is so vital to your success.

 

Customer Analytics and Resident Retention

By | Customer Loyalty & Retention: Connecting with Your Customer, Uncategorized | No Comments

Big Data Processes: Customer Analytics and Resident Retention

Unless you’ve had your head buried in traditional “marketing sand” so to speak, you know there’s a major push recently toward the concept and impact of business intelligence. What do you do after you make the sale? How do your customers perceive your product, and what are you doing to ensure their ongoing patronage? Are your residents likely to renew their lease at the end of their term?

Big Data is the term for the collective information about your customers – their purchasing behavior, feedback, interactions, transactions, etc. For many, understanding Big Data processes can be an overwhelming and difficult to manage process.  Companies need a solution that can capture, store, easily search, and analyze this information – ultimately giving them a holistic picture from which to work for attaining product and service solutions. Understanding what is making an impression on your residents – good or bad – can help ensure a higher lease renewal rate at your apartment community.

Customer analytics is not a new proposition – chain grocery stores instituted ‘loyalty card’ programs years ago and have been mailing coupons for identical and competing brand items to consumers based on purchase history.  Stores like Target and Sears in addition to other big name brands are tracking customer purchase patterns and analyzing the information to provide personalized recommendations and savings for their customers – not based solely on identical items purchased but rather also on seemingly unrelated products and services that have proven correlations to similar customer group needs.

Apartment communities and multifamily management companies have allied with local businesses to provide discounted services for residents and instituted loyalty programs of their own with perks for residents who choose to renew their lease. But these types of customer loyalty programs aren’t the entire solution to increasing resident retention.

Amazon.com utilizes a recommendation system for users, which is – in very oversimplified terms – based on typical consumer behavior by other users who looked at or purchased the identical item you’ve viewed or bought.  The mathematical and computational programming that goes into boxed products that deliver analytic solutions is extremely complicated but produces effectively targeted results. Big Data collection and utilization has taken on such an important role in business because it benefits not only the business but also the customer.

What if your Big Data processes determine most of your apartment rental prospects are finding you on a particular website? You can not only devote marketing spend to that source but you are making it easier for those customers to do business with you because you are putting relevant information in front of them right where they first look.  It saves them time and effort, which leads them to believe this is an indicator of what their overall customer experience with you will be like!

The percentage of companies using big data processes to understand customer experiences and expectations is expected to increase overall by 40% by 2015. But data analytics historically has only been undertaken by the largest corporations and once was a hit-and-miss and time-consuming process. Not to mention the uselessness of data that just sits idly in storage after it’s been collected, much like what happens with traditional resident or customer satisfaction survey results.

Companies in the past were merely looking at what had transpired rather than examining improvements that could be made to change the results they were getting. You cannot stop there!

To make a true impact in lead conversion, resident retention, and overall profit margins, you cannot merely collect data; you must in turn find meaning in it. Once you’ve interpreted the data, then you can make informed choices about actions in your business model that can drive growth and profitability.

Steps to take once you’ve collected your big data:

  • Summarize the data
  • List facts discovered in the data
  • Determine common themes
  • Define the impact of any recurring concerns on purchase and repurchase decisions
  • Brainstorm ideas for corrective action

Selecting a product or provider to aid you with collection and analysis of customer purchase and customer experience patterns is the most viable option for many companies. It allows you to focus on day to day operations and by completing all these steps for you, allows you to get on the fast track to effective solutions to drive sales, lease renewals, and resident retention.

Article Provided by Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, a partner in the journey to discover the voice of the customer through an integrated program of mystery shops, resident surveys, and social media sentiment.

 

BUSTING Baby Boomer Myths: Myth #1

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Baby Boomer Myth #1: Understand One Boomer and You Understand Them All

The Baby Boomers have been making waves since their arrival in 1946. History tells us that we were a country unprepared for this generation from the start. Far different than the generation before them, the Baby Boomers choose to march to the beat of their own drum. As they move through each season and stage of their life they continue to redefine who they are, what they need and set new objectives.

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