Value after the sale — how we helped Trilogy create lasting customer engagement, again.

This article was originally published on the Engine Digital site.

For many organizations, the connectedness of digital means there’s a real opportunity to extend customer engagement well after a purchase is made. Considering your customers as your best advocate, digital experiences become an enabler for extending the relationship weeks, months, and even years, providing a meaningful level of utility, not only a marketing channel.

Built for mobile, the new My Trilogy Life focuses on accessibility.

Part of getting to this level of digital maturity is looking at digital as far more than a marketing channel. Utility comes in all shapes and sizes, and figuring out the best way to present customers with this kind of added value starts with looking at the customer journey as a continual, sometimes circular line. The journey doesn’t end when the credit card is run, or, in the case of home buying, when the contract is signed.

It’s this kind of transformation we’ve been able to help our client, Shea Homes and their Trilogy brand to bring to their customers — residents of their communities throughout the US.

The Trilogy brand exists to create a residential community experience like no other. Beautifully designed homes lining incredibly crafted golf courses, with 5-star amenities provide the backdrop for connecting neighbors, while providing a sense of community, where residents are able to rediscover passions and create new lifelong friendships.

The Home feed provides Trilogy residents with a personalized summary of all their important info.

To bring this same mission online, our team was tasked with helping Trilogy launch My Trilogy Life — a private web and mobile community with a feature-set focused on helping residents connect, interact, learn, and live. In fact, our objective was to improve and rebuild the previous platform we originally created almost a decade ago.

Leveraging existing analytics and user research allowed our team to arrive at a roadmap of features along with platform architecture that would best serve the community’s needs. In addition to providing a relevant feature-set to residents, we also needed to define the admin side of the platform, enabling Trilogy community managers to engage with and manage members, content, and events.

The Concept Sprint workshop, where we collaborate with our client-side partners.

The deployment, onboarding, and change management process also required a clear plan, as we would be transitioning a team of community admins, 13 communities, and a significant number of residents to a whole new platform.

My Trilogy Life is a custom web app that provides administrators with a simple tool set for managing content, like community newsletters.

For example, improving the event registration process for both members and admins was a priority, along with a simplified approach to creating weekly-newsletters to drive engagement with featured events and news. Our planning and design approach required a clear understanding of what users needed most, and how best to deliver the right experience.

For residents, it’s easy to sign up for a Trilogy community event online.

As a custom web application, the new My Trilogy Life platform needed to deliver a seamless experience across both desktop and mobile web. It also needed to provide an older audience with a user-friendly interface. Clear navigation along with iconography and microcopy helps guide users through the platform with ease.

The main feed presented to users when they login provides members with a personalized experience, surfacing the most current and up-to-date community events, discussion topics, and news relevant specifically to them. Users can opt-in for a daily digest email of events for the day that arrives every morning. Club Leaders are given a profile page to manage their events and information, and communicate with their active members.

Responsive design means My Trilogy Life is fully accessible across desktop, tablet, and mobile web screens.

From an engineering perspective, we built My Trilogy Life on the Laravel PHP framework, as it provides a solid foundation upon which to build a custom web application. We looked at several off-the-shelf CMS, Community platforms, SAAS products and plugins, however there were enough unique requirements for our audience that it would be much more flexible and maintainable to build custom versus trying to customize or tweak an existing platform.

We also built out an API to allow kiosks within each community resort club to pull in the current event calendar. The API can be easily expanded on to provide more content to these kiosks, or in the future, to a native mobile app or even in home voice products such as Amazon Echo or Google Home.

To reduce server load we also offloaded all static file hosting (PDFs and images) to Amazon S3 via Cloudfront, and utilized Amazon Lambda to handle image resizing. Serverless architecture ensures the more resource intensive processes can scale on demand and handle any unexpected spikes in activity. The site search is powered by Algolia which offers so many out of the box features such a search relevance/ranking, fuzzy searches and customizations, on top of amazing speed and performance, that it was an easy decision for the end users. Of course its integration with Laravel Scout helped speed up development as well.

Constantly Improving

For traditional organizations that are typically not digitally-centric by nature, launching digital products can pose certain challenges. As we often say, if your mainline business is selling a physical product, service, or experience, and moving into the digital product/service space is your path forward (which often is the case), then making this transition can set off a need for other organizational behavior changes. As a consulting partner in this journey, we help our clients understand the changes which might need to be made to ensure the investment in these new connected products and services has a greater chance at success. A few learnings we’ve picked up along the way including:

1 — Design for users first, solve with technology second — It can sometimes be first instinct to find a technical solution or off-the-shelf platform to build a new product or service on top of. The assumption is that this cuts down on cost or time to market. But solving for real human needs by way of technology can often lead to low user adoption and engagement, or worse, a failed project. As CIO states it, “more than half of IT projects are still failing.” It’s our responsibility as partners to our clients to steer away from an approach that assumes a pre-baked platform will deliver the right feature-set to a specific and defined user-group.

2 — Co-creation is the best approach — More and more, we’re seeing a need to work closer with our client’s to co-create solutions. For us, gone are the days of the big-reveal presentation, where the work either hits on target, or its off and requires a complete rethink. While our team is expert in understanding how users interact with connected experiences, and how design can enable this interaction, today more than ever, we lean on a defined and closely tied team of client stakeholders to participate through the stages of our framework, bringing to the working group a sense of institutional knowledge. Through this approach, we ensure we’re uncovering the right problems to solve.

3 — Capturing insights for future growth — New information and requirements will continue to surface throughout complex builds. This should be looked at as an opportunity to consistently evaluate and prioritize the work being delivered against the objectives, and less about scope challenges and squashing anything new. Capturing ideas as they come, new scenarios that surface, and wishlist items all lead to product insights and a future roadmap that equip and excite our clients for the evolvement of the product, and ideally, a better solution for users.

We’re incredibly proud of the new My Trilogy Life as a product, and an incredibly powerful tool for Trilogy to continue to add value long after the real estate closing process. It’s a renewed commitment for Shea and Trilogy in making digital transformation a part of their own mission, and clear dedication to the value of customer engagement as a central business driver.

To find out more about My Trilogy Life, or to talk to us about our framework of co-creation, get in touch with us.

Written by Greg Ryder, Sr. Producer at Engine Digital.

Engine Digital is a NYC and Vancouver based digital consultancy focused on helping organizations like the NBA, Lululemon, Western Union, Adidas, and Pirelli Tires, improve the overall customer experience through foundational web, mobile, and social platforms, products, and services. We help our clients invent their future.

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