June 6, 2019

A breakfast event with Instinctif Partners – bagels, brand loyalty and bras


According to the latest IPSOS MORI Veracity Index, just 30% of consumers trust estate agents to tell them the truth, placing them alongside journalists, government ministers and politicians.

To understand whether the sector feels it can shake off the negative perceptions and create an emotional connection with customers, we hosted the first in a series of panel events featuring experts from Zoopla, Redrow, Vodafone and KFH. The four panellists provided advice from their own experience of establishing trust, increasing brand recognition and improving customer satisfaction.

Establishing brand loyalty and emotional connections with customers in the digital age can be difficult for any business. With the average British person living in seven homes during their lifetime, it certainly doesn’t make sense for housebuilders or agents to walk off into the sunset once the sale completes, as Matt (Redrow) put it.

Here are four key takeaways from our event, including a fantastic example of identifying an unmet need:

  1. Learn from the best in other sectors

Brands cannot afford to rest on their laurels and only come knocking on a customer’s door when they need them. To truly create a customer journey that’s best in class, businesses need to consider not only what peers in their sector are doing, but what leaders in other industries are implementing. Gary (Zoopla) spoke about the impact which brands such as Netflix and Spotify were having on the market and how they were becoming the benchmark upon which consumers were basing their expectations. Matt reinforced this by saying that when they implemented their customer service journey, they looked externally to see what impact technology and mid-point assessments would do to ensure trust and keep lines of communication open.

  1. We can’t all be five star rated

Paul (KFH) focused on reviews and made the point that the reality is that not everyone is going to have a five-star experience – indeed the odd one or two-star rating makes reviews seem more legitimate and authentic.  It’s how you deal with those reviews once they are received that offer the most opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your customers. When asked about the future of reviews, Maria (Vodafone) made an important statement that in her view the next step was for reviews to become more personalised and demographically based – people are more likely to trust others with similar attitudes and lifestyles to assess a customer experience accurately.

  1. Don’t be shy of social media

15 years ago a person would discuss their customer experience at a dinner party or at the gates of the school playground. And while this still happens today, it also happens in a far more visible forum – on social media. But all agreed that it doesn’t do to be afraid of social media – people expect you to have a presence and as Matt pointed out, it’s just another channel similar to the telephone or email that customers use to communicate. Creating that all important brand consideration is impossible to do if you’re hiding from the world. In the housing sector where localism plays a very important role, it pays off to involve local teams in the social media strategy. If a customer or member of the local community gets in touch the issue is going to be local, so don’t try and tackle it from the other side of the country as you’ll just appear uninformed and unhelpful.

  1. Beyond a brand – addressing unmet needs and niche audiences

When working at M&S, Maria and her team undertook an important project to address unmet needs in the marketplace that would give them the edge over competitors. New mums have a requirement to change maternity bras frequently, but are at a time in their lives when they are not desperate to get undressed and measured, whilst also juggling the lack of time which a newborn baby brings. The retailer launched a scheme that was underpinned by communicating through WhatsApp (because you’re often one-handed in those early months) to order maternity bras. Every two weeks, following some simple questions, the company could assess whether a new size was required and pop one in the post. Crucially, it was delivered in a postbox sized parcel, because they recognised that new mums would not be keen to go to the post office. The box with the new bra doubled up as the returns box and the old bras were recycled as part of their CSR strategy. The key thing here is that the thought process identified a problem for a particular audience, not just a problem M&S encountered, and that the solution involved establishing a clear end-to-end customer service journey that made things as simple as possible. With a variety of niche audiences within the broader subset of buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords, the opportunity to solve unmet needs within the housing sector could be endless.

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