Your customers should hear three specific voices during their journey with you. Regrettably, one of these voices is often entirely absent, and another tends to be consistently undervalued. This deficiency results in damaged trust and diminished clarity in communication, despite a significant increase in the number of messages sent to prospects and buyers.
In an effort to shield ourselves from the world's relentless attempts to grab our attention, we all rely on filters (consciously or unconsciously). These filters serve as a valuable protective mechanism, yet they frequently impede the ability to deliver an exceptional experience—even to those who have actively chosen to engage with us. I believe the most powerful way to get past these filters is through the relative simplicity of utilizing a distinct and clear voice.
Voices hold incredible power. Take a moment to think of a person you love dearly who is no longer in your life. Imagine sitting down in your home, your back to the door, and hearing the door softly open and, “Hi there,” in the voice of your loved one as they surprise you. If you took the time to do that exercise you likely just felt a shiver or shed a tear because of the power voices hold.
To develop that kind of power, you have to become familiar with a voice over time, and it must be consistent. This is where the concept of a brand voice comes from. With time and consistency, something that clearly isn’t alive—a company like Disney or Apple, for example—can have a clear voice that it uses to connect with its customers.
The amount of time a customer engages with a builder varies, of course, but it is the longest and most emotional business-to-consumer relationship most people will experience in their lifetime.
This truth means that a single voice won’t work for any builder of significant size. There are also needs that the consumer has that are best met by a unique voice.
After nearly 60 hours of reviewing journey maps, process diagrams, and messaging from companies across the country, I’ve narrowed the number of voices necessary down to three: the system, the marketer, and the human. I’ve also created a few illustrations to try to give a more concrete framework as I dive into each in more detail.
Receipts, confirmations, and automated updates of all kinds—these belong to the voice of the system. This clear, factual voice has an important role to play and yet is often missing entirely.
An overused analogy is the “track my pizza” experience offered by most large chains, but the visceral reaction most consumers have of “Why don’t all companies do this?” shouldn’t be ignored. It isn’t so much about having an app or a slick interface, although that can help. Too much of the process is completely opaque to consumers. Having a sheet of paper that shows your “8 Steps to Homeownership” isn’t enough.
It isn’t just about status updates, either. The system should be communicating about any upcoming appointments, reminders, receipts, confirmations, copies of paperwork, etc. This type of communication is typically saved by consumers for use at a later date. Getting a third reminder about an upcoming meeting may feel annoying if it came from someone on the construction team, but systems are given a pass precisely because we know the voice isn’t human. It can become dependable, predictable, accurate—but we know whatever it is doing isn’t personal. Customers actually enjoy impersonal systems if they help solve problems. Google is the best example of this. People type in their deepest questions to an impersonal prompt precisely because they know it has nothing in common with their best friend.
An unexpected benefit of implementing the system is that your customers will begin to give you more honest and direct feedback throughout their journey. It’s hard to give accurate feedback to the manager of the sales representative who tried their best and was pleasant but ultimately didn’t seem to listen. Each message sent by the system could have a micro-survey opportunity at the end of every email, text, or app notification.
Here is a final example. If a customer shares with a member of the sales team that they are only interested in four-bedroom homes but later discovers that they would prefer a three-bedroom option, what steps would they need to take? In most situations the prospect would need to verbally share this with the team members, admit they were incorrect, and say they wanted to change their preferences. This interaction, though straightforward, is filled with friction and often doesn’t occur at all. Why can’t your customers tell the system when their product preferences change during their search? Shouldn’t your website be able to remember who they are and filter out all the products that don’t match their current interests, but also quickly allow them to update their preferences at any time?
The voice of marketing should be inspirational, educational, or entertaining. The goal is to build certainty in the mind of the customer that your company has the solution they are looking for by sharing tailored content, whenever possible, to their unique interests.
Curating the best content and packaging it within brand standards and distributing it to the right audience—that’s the goal. When marketing stays focused on this kind of communication, it is usually welcomed by the customer. It gets past the junk mail filters because the content is interacted with at a high rate. The voice of marketing is built to nurture and increase desire or a feeling of satisfaction in an already made decision.
The challenge is that marketing often ends up being asked to carry nearly all communication with the customer because other departments are busy, and digital communication isn’t their strongest skill set. This results in customers being less excited to open the next communication from marketing because they can’t anticipate the kind of content they will find. This lower interaction rate results in lower deliverability by the filters in their lives. They also intuitively know that marketing can’t help them directly. If they want to take a next step or need help, they aren’t going to reply to the marketing email about “10 Kitchens That Impress” to ask for an appointment.
The human voice should be the most protected. As soon as your customers sense a nonhuman voice trying to pass itself off as human they relegate that voice to “junk mail” status.
For over 10 years at Do You Convert we have stressed the importance that emails from humans not be filled with paragraphs of marketing speak, formatted flyers, or a footer with eight outbound links. Humans don’t send those kinds of emails. The highest response rates always come from relatively short and simple text-only emails. Yet, the simplicity of that strategy makes companies feel uneasy—that without a special font or animated GIF the customer won’t pay attention. They pay attention precisely because the voice is clearly human, speaking human, for a human.
I’m not saying that automation and artificial intelligence don’t have a role to play to help make humans more efficient at communicating, but I would argue that, for now, that role is generally one of preparation or recommendation. Who should receive a personal message next? Let the CRM make the recommendation. What does the customer need to hear from a human to help them move forward? AI might have a good idea to share. But having AI write the email for you? Not if conversion is important to you.
Work Together for Your Customer
The next time you need to communicate something to your prospects or customers, take a moment to think about which voice is best to deliver the message.
In the intricate tapestry of customer engagement, the interplay of three voices—the system, the marketer, and the human—forms the core of a truly impactful experience. Recognizing and harnessing these voices, while respecting their unique functions, can strengthen your connection with your customers.
Embrace the system’s dependability and impersonal nature, the marketer’s inspiration, and the human’s authenticity to craft a deeper relationship. Strive for a symphony of communication that resonates with clarity and compassion, enabling your customers to feel seen, heard, and understood. It is in this harmony that home builders become more than a logo, they become a unified voice that echoes in the hearts and minds of the people they serve.