A furniture shopper sends a text message to Neal’s Furniture after hours on a Sunday to inquire about a product featured on the retailer’s website. The customer receives a prompt auto reply from the store, stating the showroom has closed for the evening but they will return the message as soon as possible.
A Neal’s Furniture sales associate receives notification of the online lead on his cell phone and decides to respond by text within five minutes. The shopper visits the showroom and completes the sale the very next morning.
In a separate sale made the same day, a first-time customer sends a text message to Neal’s Furniture requesting information on the home furnishing retailer’s No Credit Check program after visiting the store’s website. The customer makes a purchase 30 minutes after the text exchange.
These two text message conversations really happened and converted into a quick furniture sale for the local retailer.
“Oftentimes, a customer would be hesitant or perhaps embarrassed to ask for this information in person,” says John Neal Jr., vice president of Neal’s Furniture in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, a small town about 40 miles from Tulsa. “Getting past these initial apprehensions and making the customer feel comfortable could be the difference between making a sale and never having the chance.
“Furniture is an emotional decision, and oftentimes requires careful consideration and planning from the buyer,” Neal continues. “The more comfortable we can make the customer, the more likely we are to earn their business. Hopefully, they have our number saved in their phone alongside their family and friends!”
Texting Furniture Shoppers OK by Most
It’s suddenly common to receive appointment reminders from your doctor and hairstylist by text and shipping updates or coupons from businesses you’ve bought from before. How did it catch on so fast? Turns out, the majority of consumers really like the approach.
“I love, love, love when companies communicate by text,” says Sara Westrich, a travel agency owner who recently purchased a couch for her family’s new home. While that furniture retailer didn’t use text messaging, she says she wishes they had utilized that level of personal communication while she waited for three months to get the furniture delivered after an internal ordering mishap (wrong L shape). Instead, she spent her time repeatedly calling the store to get updates. In her business, she frequently uses text to communicate with clients and leads.
Recent business college graduate Nichole Marchand says she also likes it when retailers send her coupons and incentives by text. She regularly gets messages from a wide variety of businesses, like fast food coupons and reminders for an upcoming salon appointment. Westrich says Honda and Safelite were the last two companies that sent her texts.
“As a whole, text message conversations for follow ups and initial conversions have been received by our customers and sales staff as a benefit, if not a preferred method,” Neal says. “We definitely get the ‘Never text me again!’ customer but that is few and far between. We don’t do cold texts, meaning the customer either initiated the conversation or gave their contact information to a sales associate at some point.”
Shannon Anderson, owner of a food truck business and a busy mom to little ones, may be a millennial but she’s one of those few who hates receiving texts from a business. “I might be weird, but I hate it when companies text me,” Anderson says. “I find it lazy and unprofessional. Shipping updates and coupons I’m OK with, but if you need to say something for business, you should pick up the phone and call that person.”
Texting has Become Normal Communication Method for Shoppers
No one can deny that the way our society communicates and gathers information has changed exponentially over the past several years. Businesses must try new digital marketing tactics to keep up with consumers’ evolving communication practices.
“You have to communicate on their terms and be willing to talk to them how they prefer,” says Justin Bowen, web content manager at The Great American Home Store. The furniture retailer is currently working on implementing a new texting system to go along with their automated email lead nurture and marketing cloud solutions.
“A lot of people think they should be doing what was in vogue a few years ago, but the rules of the game are changing,” Bowen says. “Social doesn’t matter like it did. Facebook ads are harder to do right.
He adds that SMS is where email was about 20 years ago — just starting to catch on as a marketing platform — and no one knows for sure what it’s fully capable of doing to the retail marketplace. With so many companies already texting shoppers, the marketing method will eventually become as saturated as email and lose some of its effectiveness.
“The time is to start now, not later,” Bowen says, when referring to texting furniture shoppers. “People already prefer it, but most of the competition isn’t doing it, which presents a prime opportunity.”
This article originally appeared on Casual Living.
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
In today’s reality, social distancing has become a part of normal business. Brick and mortar stores have closed storefronts or have limited business hours, forcing customers to shop online. How do you make the consumer feel important when you can only interact through a screen?
Providing a personalized, top-class shopping experience should not only happen when the consumer enters through your front door. Building any kind of relationship takes time and effort. Start building that relationship online the moment the consumer visits your website. Utilizing an AI-focused website and personalized lead follow-up approach gives the online consumer an experience similar to what they would receive during an in-store visit. Here’s how your business can create a VIP customer experience.
Personalize your lead follow-up while selling remotely
Utilize data when it comes to personalized lead follow-up. Retailers should be relying on tools on their website, such as assessments and quizzes to collect as much information as possible from their customers. You can learn what style of furniture they like, what room they are looking to furnish, or how soon they are going to buy. You are also able to collect basic information such as name, phone number and email address.
With that information, your sales team is equipped to personalize the outreach. If your customers are looking for a new bedroom set, leverage targeted content through email with a catalog of this year’s hottest bedroom trends. If you’ve already been in contact with them, send a picture through text message of the new set you just got in. This is also an easy way to send incentives or discounts of products to encourage them to buy.
Personalizing the marketing experience for your shoppers is an easy way to make them feel valued and continue to shop your products.
Communicate with the consumer through text messaging
Allowing the consumer an option to ask a question via a chat tool online, which gives your sales team the opportunity to follow-up with that customer immediately by text. From there, they are able to send pictures and videos of products in the showroom that the shopper isn’t able to see. This is an effective tool because unlike a chat box, the message is delivered directly to the customers phone as opposed to a chat bot online.
Text messaging helps build the relationship with the customer before they enter the store. By being intentional and personalizing the message, shoppers will be more inclined to respond and be engaged later when they are ready to buy.
Prioritize video calls over phone calls for the VIP customer experience
When shoppers were able to go in the store, video follow-up and video appointments were nice to have. Now, video appointments are essential and will likely be a preference for shoppers to save time in the future.
Instead of just a simple phone call, video calls bring an extra level of personalization to the conversation. Shoppers are able to see the face of the person they are speaking to much like they would in an in-store visit. Through video calls, you are also able to give tours of the showroom and let the consumer see the product for themselves as you are speaking about it. Tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Zoom are all platforms you can use to host video appointments. Follow these tips to ensure you host a successful video appointment.
Using these tips to treat the shopper like a VIP will ensure they choose you over another brand. Making someone feel important goes a long way in building consumer trust. Good luck!
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
Your doors to your leasing office may be closed for the public, but that doesn’t mean prospective renters aren’t looking for their new home. Connect with your renters digitally and empower your team with the best digital leasing practices and tips during COVID-19 by using our Digital Leasing Guide
Use our Digital Leasing Guide to learn how to effectively generate opportunities online while there are little to no in-person visits. The guide outlines how to leverage your website to generate and manage quality leads, tips on how to budget your marketing spend, and the best ways to stay connected to rental prospects during COVID-19.
Check it out to learn how to increase your occupancy during COVID-19, byvisiting this link:https://drift.perq.com/Multifamily_COVID_Guide
Additional Multifamily Resources:
Let’s face it. Most of us walk around with our phones in our hands or at arms-reach the majority of the time. Don’t overlook the easiest way to connect with your customers, text messaging. But, easy doesn’t mean you should do it without forethought and planning.
Make Texting Personal
This is your chance to really connect with the person. Plan your first message out in advance and make it memorable.
Just because you are using technology where you can’t see or hear the customer, don’t forget you are still talking with a person. Make it personal. Use their name, suggest information based on previous conversations. Don’t be a robot!
You aren’t texting your friends. While it’s important to sound friendly and connect with the customer, you need to be sure all texts are professional.
Try not to use texting abbreviations when communicating. Spell out your words and phrases. Write complete sentences and punctuate. All it takes to turn off some customers is a misspelled word or an incorrect phrase. Not sure you have everything right? Run it by a colleague or spell check it on a computer.
A tasteful emoji here or there is fine, but don’t overuse them. Limit them to a thumbs up or smiley face. Your texts shouldn’t look like an 8-year-old got hold of your phone.
Offer VIP Deals through Text
Texting is a great way to offer VIP deals.
Special discounts or deals make your consumers feel special during this time and like you’re taking care of them. The pleasant feeling VIP deals give customers may just be enough to close your own deal.
In the season opener of The Bridge, co-hosts Andy Medley and Muhammad Yasin sit down (a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic) with Matt Weirich, CEO and co-founder of Realync, and Jordan Easley, their Director of Operations. The pair at Realync, a multifamily video leasing and engagement solution that enables leasing teams, talk about a topic that is now top of mind for many businesses: “How do I connect with rental prospects when they can’t visit in-person?”
Video touring, whether it be pre-recorded or live, gives a human interaction that static images can’t compete with. “A video can be used to establish that first connection between a rental property and a consumer who’s looking for a new place to live,” says Weirich. “Video tours allow these consumers to experience a space on their own time and to see the exact unit they could be living.”
If you want to learn more about how Realync is bridging the gap by using video touring, check out Season 2, Episode 1 of The Bridge podcast now. The Bridge season 2 is available wherever you get your podcasts including, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify. You can see all of the episodes, on your podcast app of choice, by visiting this link.
Connect with Matt
Connect with Jordan
Learn More about Realync
Connect with Andy
Connect with Muhammad
Additional Multifamily Resources
For more consumers, texting has become the preferred method of communication. In today’s world of immediate satisfaction, texting often provides an instant response. Multifamily properties are starting to favor texting because of its effectiveness in reaching out to consumers quickly to answer their questions. Marketing research shows companies that text customers get 7.5 times more responses than with emails.
Clients we spoke to believe leveraging an online tool that drives prospects to text with the community is most effective because they can answer a rental prospect’s question while they are on their phone. It’s much easier to use than just an online chat option that requires users to stay logged onto an internet browser to get a response or continue a conversation. Once a prospect leaves a live chat platform, the property often lacks a way to follow up with that consumer, who must start the process all over when they initiate another online chat session.
Ask a Question Multifamily Tool Easy for Rental Prospects and Leasing Teams
With PERQ’s new Ask a Question tool for multifamily properties, our conversational “smart” form helps prospects quickly ask questions right from your website, which can feed right to your leasing team.
Your leasing team can quickly qualify and contact your most engaged leads, answer prospect questions using text messaging, and help prospects choose their dream home with photo or video message.
Ask a Question integrates into the PERQ Marketing Cloud, giving you continued access to helpful prospect data such as desired move-in timeframe, favorite floor plans, interests and more.
One client who recently introduced the chat to text feature on their website is finding consumers are highly engaged and more likely to convert than the average online visitor. “They’re further along in the cycle,” he says. “The interesting thing though is it seems like it’s all ages of demographics who engage. Everybody wants to text now.”
Leverage your Multifamily Website to Engage Visitors through Chat/Text
The Ask a Question tool collects prospect questions right from your website, helps you to quickly qualify and contact your most engaged leads through text, and helps you progress toward your occupancy goal, even in these trying times where COVID-19 limits our face-to-face interaction with rental prospects.
“As a whole, text message conversations used for follow-ups and initial conversations have been received by our customers and sales staff as a benefit, if not a preferred method,” says one PERQ client. “Conversations, pictures, quotes, reviews, emojis, etc. can be sent directly to the device that the customer uses all day and lives in their pocket! Why wouldn’t that be the way businesses talk to their customers?”
Ask a Question helps multifamily properties build relationships with rental prospects. By starting the conversation online and following up by text, you’ll turn more of your leads into leases.
Additional Multifamily Resources