Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Rising Importance in Real Estate

In view of the rapid advancements in the real estate domain, with regard to increasing numbers of developers, customers, projects, locations, trends & practices, the secret to building long term equity for a brand rests in creating a competitive advantage through value-added and differentiated service of the customer. Strategic tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) play an important role in fulfillment of such an objective.

With the entry of renowned names in realty sector and increasing FDI, the competition is becoming stiff. The rising spending power of the working population, demand for premium & luxury housing, heavy NRI investments in Indian realty market, and the rising importance of the ‘Service’ aspect is making the real estate developers go for high standards of professionalism.

Relationship management is a customer-oriented feature with service response based on customer input, one-to-one solutions to customers’ requirements, direct online communications with customer and customer service centers. This function can also deliver sales effectiveness such as sales promotion analysis, automate tracking of a client’s account history for repeat sales, and also сo-ordinate sales-marketing-call centers-retail outlets in order to realize the salesforce automation. It can also track and measure marketing campaigns over multiple networks. These systems can track customer analysis by customer clicks and sales.

Across functions, it uses technology to make “up-to-the-second” customer data available. It applies data warehouse technology in order to aggregate transaction information, to merge the information with CRM products, and to provide KPI (key performance indicators).

In the world of real estate, every project is unique in terms of location, project features, pricing, post sales services and other offerings. With every developer managing a number of projects, the main challenge is to identify the target segment through data from primary and secondary sources, manage lead generation campaigns for different projects effectively, analyze the leads scientifically, find cross-selling (offering customers complimentary products based on their previous purchases) and up-selling (offering customers, premium products in the same category) opportunities and sustained follow-up efforts that convert the footfalls into business. Also based on analysis of past sales success and various metrics related to it, it becomes easier to define strategies for the future. The facility to create a variety of reports and dashboards with critical sales data becomes the basis for effective decision making.

It thus helps in improving segmentation scalability for targeting millions of prospects. This also helps in enhancing marketing productivity, increasing conversion rates and reduces campaign execution costs.

From a buyer viewpoint, property related decisions whether buying or leasing are capital-intensive and involve a number of interactions with the developers before finalizing. Keeping a record of all these interactions and analyzing the outcome of each interaction and taking appropriate action to facilitate the lead-to-customer conversion is a vital element of CRM principles.

CRM enables a holistic, disciplined approach to planning and budgeting. With world-class CRM it is possible to create a marketing calendar integrated with the financials, providing a centralized view to manage and schedule all relevant enterprise marketing plans and campaigns.

In a typical real estate sales lifecycle, the real estate company has to communicate with the customer on numerous occasions such as milestone completion, demand letters for payment, maintenance related communications etc. Any errors/redundancy here can cause a serious damage to customer relationships. With CRM systems, it is possible to configure and trigger automated communications through email/mobile messages, based on transactions taking place in the customer/prospect account. An example would be to send out birthday greetings, wishing on special memorable occasions and so on. For an existing customer, this could also mean sending out updates on new properties coming up, sending out referral scheme details etc.

CRM is imperative in today’s business and consumer context, especially in the real estate industry. For companies which adopt it on a holistic scale, it spells the strong possibility of building strong and enduring customer relationships, thereby reflecting shine on brand value metrics.

About P. Sahel

As Vice Chairman of Lotus Greens, Sahel is responsible for giving directions on overall business strategy and key investments decisions of the firm. Being one of the founding members of Lotus Greens, Sahel has been instrumental in formulating various company policies, setting up systems and processes, and building a strong team of professionals. Prior to Lotus Greens, Sahel worked for more than 16 years in some of India’s largest and most respected real estate companies like Jones Lang LaSalle for 13 years as the Managing Director of the Markets & Solution Development and DLF prior to that. The views expressed are personal

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