Home builders are going online with a new way to distinguish their companies from the competition, that is by publishing their customer reviews on the Internet for the world to see. In fact, this approach is fast becoming the most significant change in builder marketing since the advent of social networking. Powered by Facebook, Twitter, and Google, 2012 will be the year that customer transparency goes viral in home building.
In the world of Facebook, great companies now are defined by how many “likes” are awarded by customers. For leading home builders the same principle applies for their customer reviews—garner as many positive customer comments as possible. How does your company stack up in this new measure of success? Do you publish your customer comments on a daily/weekly basis? How about posting actual customer comments from satisfaction surveys direct to Facebook and Twitter? What about posting all your customer feedback regardless of whether it’s good or bad directly to Google? This may sound crazy, but it is exactly what successful builders are doing, with dramatic increases in sales as a result.
Who are these adventurous home builders that dare to break the century old “code of silence” when it comes to what customers actually think about their products and services? Well, the names may surprise you, and it’s a strategy engaged in by companies big and small.
Meritage Homes and Facebook:Meritage Homes, a national, publicly traded home builder, publishes its customer comments directly to Facebook on a daily and weekly basis. These posts engender incredibly positive feedback from followers, but also occasionally draw customer service requests from homeowners, which the company openly allows and publicly responds to as needed. You can visit its Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/meritagehomes to observe how it goes live with customer reviews. Meritage now has over 15,000 likes in just an 18-month period. It leads in sales compared to other builders selling in the same communities throughout the U.S. with award-winning customer satisfaction, daring grassroots marketing, and ground-breaking, energy-efficient homes.
Veridian Homes and Google:Veridian Homes, a single-market builder based in Madison, Wis., leads the market by publishing all its customer satisfaction survey results directly to Google. Simply type “Veridian Homes Reviews” in Google, and you will see a listing displaying its results along with Google Stars that correspond to its level of performance. Veridian goes one step further by displaying actual customer survey scores by community within virtual home tours that are also displayed by Google for easy access by customers. The company has been a leading builder within Wisconsin since the 1950s and continues its success with award-winning customer satisfaction, stylish energy-efficient homes, and a renowned company culture.
Ideal Homes and Twitter:Ideal Homes, based in Norman, Okla., regularly posts its customer reviews to Twitter (through Facebook). Its strategy is to intermix the positive feedback it receives from customers with updates regarding new product releases, market updates, and general company news. Ideal is one of the first builders to embrace Twitter as an extension of its Facebook strategy on a regular basis. You can view its Twitter page @idealhomesok. Ideal is a market leader recognized nationally for its energy-efficient designs, innovative marketing, and award-winning customer satisfaction.
The world is evolving toward corporate transparency due to the astonishing success of social networking, which broadcasts the “voice of the customer” whether positive or negative. Truly, it’s a brave new world that industry leaders have embraced, with marketing that is customer-centric and genuine, and captivates today’s socially connected buyer.