Home buyers across the country often complain about the lack of accountability, with respect to what is possibly the biggest investment of their lives. Cynics argue that this deficiency makes it a sellers’ market, with developers often adopting a ‘take it or leave it’ approach. Developers on their part, insist that they have started interacting with home buyers. Some say that they even address queries of visitors on their websites, which has started reflecting in their conversion ratio, as well. Nevertheless, the practice of addressing consumer touchpoints, remains few and far between in the Indian housing market.
“Even when I buy perishable consumer goods, in case I am dissatisfied, I write to the company and most often, they address my concerns. Why should the benchmark be so different when it comes to buying a house?” questions Ajay Raj, a dissatisfied real estate buyer from Chandigarh. Developers today, are more concerned about consumer backlash, than addressing grievances and being seen as a responsible and committed real estate brand.
Bridging buyers’ needs using digital platforms
“There is ample room for improvement and innovation, on the part of developers, to connect better with investors and give them the information that they need, to make a purchase decision. As builders expand their presence in the online space, the focus is on tapping NRI customers and other HNIs outside the catchment area or advertised geographical boundaries, rather than creating a meaningful platform for dialogue, with buyers,” laments Devika Menon, a dissatisfied home buyer in Chennai.
Ravi Saund, COO of JMS Buildtech, however, maintains that innovation in the industry, has always been in sync with buyers’ needs. With the advent of e-commerce, customers are increasingly demanding virtual walk-throughs of projects, as it helps them to save time. Up-to-date depictions of the status of projects and online helpdesks for queries, have become necessities for all well-known developers. Lucrative and feasible financial schemes, will also help to attract customers, he feels.
“From a time, when engagement between buyers and sellers hardly existed; the real estate market has evolved tremendously, over the last two decades” Saund maintains. “Nowadays, consumer awareness, customer satisfaction and loyalty, have become crucial. Most real estate companies intuitively understand the return on investment that comes from improving customer experience. India’s realty market is witnessing a phase of consolidation and developers have been able to segregate their target audience well. Taking a cue from queries and website traffic data, we have been able to fine-tune our supply, to meet customers’ demand,” he explains.
In contrast, consumer brands have a focussed and strategic approach, towards reaching their clients. Of late, several well-known consumer brands have effectively leveraged the e-commerce platform and engaged customers, to strengthen their brand recall. The real estate sector, on the other hand, is still trying to utilise this platform smartly, to reach its target audience. Success, will depend on long-term planning, research, availability of finance and educating customers/investors. Meanwhile, the sector has a long way to go, in order to create an experience that consumer brands conveniently manage to do.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)