By Rick Buchholz
Shinn Builder Partnerships Consultant
How can a builder that is providing a well-built home, packed with standard features beyond that of its competitors, offered at a reasonably competitive market price, find itself mired in low customer satisfaction ratings? Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to accomplish.
While building an exceptional product is paramount to a happy home owner, many other things go into the process of building a new home. If you focus only on the final product, you may be missing many of the little things that affect your customer’s perception of that process.
How do you increase satisfaction and ensure that your efforts create a base of customers who are willing to recommend your homes to family and friends? Here are five steps to help make it happen.
1. Communicate. Customers expect to be kept informed of all aspects of their new home purchase and construction in a timely manner. Have a process in place to regularly inform your purchasers about progress on their home. Respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion, too. It is not uncommon for buyers and owners to create social media pages to share complaints and comments with others in a community. Don’t allow social media to be the source of your customer’s answers; provide them yourself. Control the conversation!
2. Measure. It is critical that you measure your customers’ satisfaction with your product, with the process of the build, and with their overall willingness to recommend your homes to a friend or family member. When you gather this information, mine it for the valuable information it provides you. Who gets the customer surveys? Who reads them, and most importantly, what is your response to them? Surveys can be a valuable tool in helping you to refine your processes and procedures to ensure the experience of your customer meets their expectations.
3. Create a culture of customer satisfaction. It’s not enough to want good customer satisfaction. It takes a company-wide dedication to achieving the highest levels of customer experience. From the first contact with the customer at the sales office and your field construction manager interactions to your mortgage company representatives, closing coordinator, and warranty manager, every associate should be trained in personal interactions and customer service. Set goals for your home buyer experience based on the responses you receive to your surveys. Know where you are now and know where you want to be.
4. Maintain a quality assurance program. A good quality assurance review process is important to building a consistent product throughout the company. Since different trade partners may be working in various communities, it’s important to ensure that every home is built to your company specs, not those of a trade partner or even a construction manager. In a good quality assurance program, you are inspecting every home for quality across your company and scoring them for compliance. This ensures that when your customer walks in the home for an orientation, it is complete, clean, and ready.
5. Incentivize your team. Customer satisfaction should be the pillar of associate incentive plans. Use a well-crafted incentive program to create the behavior you want. The ultimate goal is to build a home and a process that you are proud of and that yields a customer base that will recommend your homes and help grow your business.
In a highly competitive housing market, prospective home buyers have the choice to purchase from multiple builders. Having a satisfied customer base can reduce your cost of sales. It can allow you to compete with other builders on more than just price.
We can help you create proven quality assurance programs, incentive programs, and the policies and procedures that will energize your associates and wow your customers. Contact us today for a consultation.