Posted in on October 9, 2013

What Over 55 Housing Can Learn From Nordstrom

Creating Results is always shopping for consumer insights that can help our clients motivate baby boomers, and were delighted to see Market Force’s annual survey on fashion retailers.

Nordstrom logoThousands were surveyed, but any woman who loves shoes could’ve saved them the time: Nordstrom is the best! Of course the survey, as reported in MediaPost, was very scientific and provided insights into why consumers prefer one chain over another.

Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force noted “its real claim to fame is quality customer service.” She said that Nordstrom’s and Kohl’s (which got top honors last year and came in number two this year) “share a customer-centric approach.”

How can active adult and senior communities incorporate a customer-centric approach into their marketing? Here are four of my top insights, with three more to come in tomorrow’s post.

1. People talk. To their friends, neighbors and family. Your Welcome Centers must be, welcoming, staffed with friendly people who are good listeners and dedicated to helping their customers.

As I walked through one of our local Nordstroms (I’m lucky enough to have 3 within 10 miles of my house) I was greeted by a sales person in each and every department. And not just with a smile and “hello,” but with a “how can I help you today” or “let me know if I can help you find something.” That told me that they were truly interested in finding out how they could help me.

Traditions of America, a Pennsylvania builder and developer of active lifestyle communities, had their sales staff take Listening Training to help them develop relationships through active listening. Through this, the team has uncovered new ways to help prospects.

2. Boomers and seniors have no urgency to move to your community. Expect to see them several times before signing on the bottom line. You want them to be comfortable and come back as many times as they feel they need. Don’t rush them; you risk them feeling pressured and leaving without buying AND turned off about coming back.

I’ve found patient salespeople at both Nordstrom and Kohl’s. Kohl’s doesn’t employ as many salespeople on the floor as Nordstrom’s, of course, but my experience shows that they are still helpful, will take you to the area of the store you are looking for. So greet your “be-backs” as energetically the fourth time as you did the first.

3. Engage your customers. At North Hill , a CCRC in Needham, MA, current residents, prospective residents and people from the surrounding community come together for a wide variety of courses and events through its PurposeFULL Living initiative.

Nordstrom stores also put on great variety of events from fashion trends to beauty tips. And if you’re wondering whether all of your events need to be free to get a good turnout, the answer is “no.” Some North Hill events, and some events Nordstrom sponsors, are paid events. Just make sure they are value priced, meaning your target market will consider the price fair and reasonable.

4. Customer service doesn’t end once the sale is made. The Lifestyle Directors at Traditions of Americas’ communities are dedicated to enriching the lives of their baby boomer residents by organizing classes, parties and events. The builder’s Facebook page gives residents an easy way to share (and show) these events with friends, and they’ve also invited residents to serve as guest bloggers. Last year some residents blogged as they took a grand adventure touring some of our beautiful national parks. They aren’t just residents of the community, they are the community.

Traditions of America residents shared their grand canyon travel experiences on the corporate blog.

And what does Nordstrom do to demonstrate service doesn’t end after the sale? Their return policy is legendary and they ship for free AND pay for return shipping as well. They have customer service representatives available 7 days a week from 7am until 1am ET and you can call, email or contact via “Live Chat.”

These active adult and senior communities have found a number of ways to make sure their staff, buying process and environment are positive experiences. Tomorrow we’ll have three more lessons from Market Force’s annual survey on fashion retailers for active adult and senior housing communities.

Download the MarketForce survey:

RELATED: Case Study – North Hill Events

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