One of the most important pieces in the home building puzzle is customer service. It is a crucial part of the overall plan, from start to finish. In all industries, a happy customer is an outstanding marketing tool for referrals and continued business. Companies that have a thorough knowledge of the cost and effect of customer service, will have a higher rate of success and will propel their assets forward. How much does “customer service” cost your company?
By all accounts, time is money. The components involved in a homebuyer’s punchlist begin at the time the home is constructed. The least number of items on a punch list at the time of the buyers “walk-through” with the builder, can assist in minimizing the overall home-building cost. Return visits to correct the items, the calls made to bring back the tradespeople for these corrections, the follow-up to be sure the jobs were completed correctly, all have a financial implication. In addition, the project management and process flow for the superintendent, the receptionists, the contractors, the materials, the labor and the customers are all crucial parts of the bottom line for good customer service and financial success. If there is a breakdown in any part of this process, it may become a negative customer experience, which can lead to a whole other set of costs and be very detrimental to your company.
Key steps build a strong “customer support” system:
- Communicate company standards and expectations from the beginning.
- Set goals for your team – Bonus for great delivery performance.
- Identify your customers needs – Strive to meet their requests in a positive, polite, and professional manner.
- Value your client’s needs – Address their priorities with professionalism, Don’t let your customers feel unimportant and ignored.
- Remember that without each customer, your business would not exist and neither would the jobs of many involved in this process.
- Fix areas where negative experiences are common – “Because a single negative experience has four to five times greater relative impact than a positive one, companies should focus on reducing the poor customer experiences”.* Some people do have a more positive outlook, but almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.
- Do it now! – “Making additional investments to improve the customer experience without tightening the consistency of experience is just throwing good money after bad.”**
- Provide a Home Warranty – Offering additional assurances after the move-in on all of your sales speaks highly of you. This insurance backed tool gives your buyers written guidelines and an explanation of any discrepancies they might find in their home. It also addresses how these situations will be handled by their builder and the warranty company, extending a third party to assist in escalated situations and providing an additional level of trust and security. Furthermore, it offers your company another valuable risk management tool. Use a warranty as part of your team and part of the sale.
There is extraordinary value in supporting a strong customer service team. It is an important reminder that a service-minded company focus can positively impact your bottom line. Conversely, a lack of customer service can negatively affect a company’s bottom dollar and really damage a builder’s reputation. Excellent customer service creates loyalty, customer support and works as its own marketing tool in today’s new millenium industry!
*, ** Insights & Publications – www.mckinsey.com/insights/consumer_and_retail/the_three_cs_of_customer_satisfaction_consistency_consistency_consistency