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Improving customer relations

publication date: Sep 24, 2008
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A few years ago the popular jargon included the frequent mantra ‘think outside the box’. Well, thinking outside the box is, of this month, out of fashion. We should now be looking at thinking INSIDE THE BOX. 

Another popular saying in tough times is ‘box clever’ and that is exactly what a new service is named that could help agents to make sure that those precious buyers end their relationship on a happy note! 

We went to meet Russell Fowler, Group Sales Manager, to find out more. 
Box Clever is a brand of the Taskforce Group; a privately owned company with interests in Field Marketing, warehousing, fulfilment, recruitment and training. The company works with a number of household name brands and retailers as well as supporting small companies in their quest for growth. 

The Taskforce Group has been operating a service on behalf of Akzo Nobel that provides ‘Home Maintenance Packs’ to new homes developers, which are handed to house buyers as part of the key handover process to welcome them to their new home.

During 2007 extensive research was carried out to see if this idea could be extended into the mainstream property market. The following key issues were identified:

  • The process of moving house often triggers changes in consumer buying habits – whether it is buying items to furnish and decorate a house; changes to service providers and even changes to lifestyle. Consumers can be very influenced by new ideas at this point in their life!
  • Companies who want to target these consumers tend to try and go direct by buying ‘lists’ of people or waiting for home movers to respond to more indirect means. The one set of people closest to the Home Mover – the Estate Agent is not in this loop!
  • The consumer perception of their relationship with their estate agent is often seen as negative, even though this can be driven by media hype –vs- reality.
  • Consumers often feel that they have not been ‘thanked’ sufficiently for their custom. Often their last contact with their agent is related to the final bill – not the ideal way to end a relationship!
  • Agency focus on customer marketing has been concentrated in the areas of brand image and the move away from traditional print based advertising to online and MMS based customer contact. This pulls customers in whether they be potential buyers or sellers. Less attention has been paid to the customer experience at the point of sale and the management of the ‘after sales’ opportunity.
  • There are wide differences in how different agents ‘sign off’ their relationship with a customer: Some produce a bunch of flowers (dead within days!), some a box of chocolates (eaten within hours!) or a bottle of wine (consumed within minutes!). The more imaginative put together a mini hamper. None of these present any branding opportunities or leave a lasting memory! Often, the customer will be presented with a voucher if they successfully recommend the agent to a friend, which they probably will – IF they end their agency relationship in a positive frame of mind!
  • Many agents do nothing to enhance the customer experience at this point!
  • Individual branches often do have local recommendations with local businesses but cannot negotiate bigger deals – no time and no contacts!
  • Agencies would welcome an efficient service that enabled them to offer centrally negotiated deals with the ability to input their own local ‘specials’. If this same process could offer better branding opportunities and also carry any existing after sales service, at the same price as a bouquet of flowers, then all the better!

So what is Box Clever? Taking all of the research into account, Box Clever set out to create a range of ‘Welcome Packs’, that offered:

Multiple price points (from £12 to £100 l A ‘bespoke’ service for those very special customers!
Full tailored solution for those that want and standard service for those that don’t.
Varied & eclectic content – people love opening presents!
Centrally negotiated products and services from practical to fun!
Unique introductions and discounts from major retailers to specialist food companies, utility and service providers, home & decorating suppliers; the list can be endless and ever changing!
Easy to order process, with deliveries direct to branch.
Ongoing offers for both customer and agent via ‘MyBoxClever’. 

Where do the packs come from? Box Clever’s principle partnerships are with Homebase and Argos for the bulk of the Welcome Packs. Their partners at the top end of the market are Daylesford Organic. 

In addition to these, they will have working relationships with a host of other product and service providers who can provide either unique, useful or downright interesting stuff! 

How does it work? 
1. You go to 
2. You register as a customer, or… 
3. You ‘Contact Us’ if you want to discuss with our marketing team how to tailor the service and see a sample pack. We can even work with our suppliers to tailor make reward & recognition packs for your own staff! 
4. You place an order from the site using a credit/debit card or via pre arranged billing facilities. 
5. The order goes direct to our own pick & pack warehouse. 
6. Your packs are delivered to your branch 
7. You hand them to your customer! 
8. Your customer beams with delight at getting such a useful present and tells all their friends and colleagues how wonderful their estate agent is! 

Box Clever will be launching this service at Agency Expo 14-15 October – you are warmly invited to meet the team and learn more!