Page 5: Lessons learned
What are the key lessons that Bryant Homes has learnt so far from using the Internet?
It is of little use achieving more hits and leads through the Internet if there are no resources to process them. As people request information through the website they will expect a speedy response. If it is not fulfilled quickly this gives a negative vibe to the customer. The original website did not have a section to enable customers to contact Bryant Homes directly. This was a clear omission, although the resource implication was that additional staff would be needed to handle enquiries.
Bryant Homes now recognises the importance of providing this service. A further weakness of the original site was that while there was a section for customer feedback, it was not structured tightly enough. Customers were using this opportunity for a multitude of things, such as offering land for sale; requesting information; or identifying sales leads.
Bryant now recognises that resources such as extra staff need to be provided to service enhanced customer expectations.
The website has achieved one of its major objectives in generating a sizeable number of new leads. Bryant Homes is now exploring ways in which these leads can be followed up. Initially this was done by sending a Bryant corporate brochure or a site specific brochure for more detailed enquiries. In many cases this was purely a duplication of what was on the screen. The company is therefore exploring new ways of following-up leads in a way that makes customers feel they are receiving more than they had been able to access through the website.
While the website has been a major innovation it now needs to be integrated more effectively into the overall advertising mix.
- Conventional ways of advertising such as press advertising and direct mail are still very significant. The website address has now been incorporated into all advertising materials.
- Online advertising - Placing on-line adverts in strategic places on the Internet attracts traffic to the website and potentially more leads/reservations. Placing banner ads and links on related websites such as those of leading building societies and banks increases customer awareness of the site. Bryant Homes is currently looking at ways of developing its online advertising campaign in order to achieve maximum customer interest and obtaining revenue back for Bryant.
Customer relationships online (CRM)
The Internet lends itself well to CRM. One of the most important things that customers look for when choosing to buy goods and services is the relationship that they have with the provider. A good website enables an organisation to build a good relationship with customers. This is done by gathering information about individual customers and storing this on a central database thus starting to build one-to-one relationships.
Originally the site focused on the 'hard sell'. Today, the emphasis is more on creating additional reasons for customers to re-visit the site by making it more interactive and individualistic. It is essential for Bryant to develop a close, long lasting relationship with its customers and to understand:
- What motivates them?
- What do they want?
- What do they need?
- How do they see themselves?
- How do they perceive the Bryant Brand?
As more people become expert users of the Internet, radical changes are taking place in the way that people access information and fact find. In addition, Bryant Homes’ current standard product range is changing.
In order to provide customers with specifications, details and up-to-the-minute views of the range of homes on offer, Bryant Homes is now increasingly using digital imagery to market its product. This gives the customer an excellent opportunity to see what the scheme will look like long before it starts. It also provides an opportunity to produce a CDROM to use as a mail shot for potential customers.
Bryant Homes will use the Internet to create an image library, which will eventually allow suppliers access to all photographs on-line. The company will place all its photography on a dedicated password protected website that suppliers can access and download images from to use in adverts, brochures etc. Images are to be saved in different formats and file sizes depending upon the client’s need.
The Internet provides customers with a way of communicating with Bryant Homes for information or purchasers who need to contact the company.