HOME AWARDS 2017

2017 H.OM.E. Awards Finalists Announced!

Now in its 7th year, the Home Owner Mark of Excellence (H.O.M.E.) Awards celebrate those companies who have achieved exceptional customer experience scores throughout 2016, as rated by their clients.

Of the Customer-Certified™ builders who have met or exceeded the minimum customer satisfaction requirements, some top performers stand out in each of their markets, for their excellence in driving remarkable customer experiences.

It’s those top performers who have been nominated for our three

H.O.M.E. Awards

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Best Customer Experience – New homebuyers rated their builder twice, 30 days post-possession and 13 months post-possession.

Builder of Choice – New homebuyers rated their builder twice (as above), plus, their trade partners and employees evaluated them.

Best Trade Partner – Residential builder partners rated their trades on their workmanship, quality, reliability, warranty and customer service. (New)

“H.O.M.E. is a difficult achievement for companies because the only judge in these awards is the voice of the customer, trades and internal employees. Builders must deliver on their promises and follow through on one-year obligations to the customer. For the Builder of Choice, the company must also have employees and trade partners who have been treated as ‘part of the team’ – not an easy task,” says Christian Caswell, President & CEO, CustomerInsight.

Congratulations to  all ‘Customer-Certified™’ companies for your outstanding accomplishments .

Click here for a complete list of winners and finalists.

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Getting set up for the big event.
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2017 HOME Awards are coming!

Bigger and better than ever: we are so excited for our 2017 HOME awards. An event crafted for those who stand out. The HOME Gold status recognizes the best of the best, as rated by their customers. Top performing companies compete for two possible awards, Best Customer Experience and Builder of Choice. A highly sought-after award that is solely based on the voice of the customer.  This unique award deserves a one-a-kind look, so we’re thrilled to show you what went behind the creation of our beautiful new award.

Interesting Facts About the New Home Award

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• The designer and artisan of our beautiful statue, Jan Hoselton in collaboration with Jay Hennessy, is Canadian based in Belleville, Ontario and the creators of the CHBA SAM Award for the last 30 years.
• The design team works in collaboration to sculpt each award. Each artisan, uses his/her skill from the molten recycled aluminum pouring stage, through an intensive 7 step polishing/finishing process through to the last hand polish and quality control inspection; and only upon passing a strict quality control, does it have the final approval to be sent for the gold tone and platinum finish and fitted to the aluminum foundation, ready for engraving. Each piece is handled/passed through approximately 12 people.
• Although there are no perfect sculptures, as each one is individually created by hand, there are certain irregularities that to the trained artisan’s eye would be considered not acceptable. The “high five” statuettes present unique challenges due to their shape, colour requirements (gold and platinum tone) and uniquely precise placements on the aluminum foundation. Each award is hand fitted into the “high five” position, without a template, as each piece is unique. The subtle differences, in fractions of a millimeter, can cause the sculpture to not align correctly/not touch at the hands placement. After each award is completed, it is thoroughly rechecked and repolished prior to packaging.
• The designer and artisan captured the essence of HOME Awards, which is based on a foundation of relationships, trust and working together as a team. Symbolic to the builders/companies and their teams of people, it is very important to create amazing award winning homes.
• The inspiration of the infamous “high five” recognition between ‘people’ as a form of celebration and award-winning victory reminded us of how so often, people (sports teams, business team, sales teams, your friends, supporters, team members, etc.) show their enthusiasm, recognition and congratulatory spirit for their success. It’s a true testimony to the builder on their overall year’s success, by way of customer satisfaction, trade colleagues, suppliers, etc.
Our 2017 Home Awards take place March 30th in Calgary, Alberta. There’s still time to register.

HOME AWARDS 2017

Major Causes of Customer Dissatisfaction (and How to Make it Right)

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At CustomerInsight, we are constantly challenging conventional wisdom on the topics of customer perceptions, expectations and satisfaction and have some revealing facts from our research. After analyzing over 240,000 builder reviews, customers told us what their breaking point was where they behaved in a manner that they were embarrassed about afterwards.

Here are the Major Causes, and how to Avoid Them:

47% Workmanship Issues
Quality of delivery didn’t equal what the customers were shown, saw,  or expected when they purchased. Most customers point to poor trade selection and sloppy workmanship.
47% of customers say workmanship is the major cause of dissatisfaction
Solution:  Consider the real root-cause or influencing factors such as unrealistic scheduling of trades, site conditions, weather, incomplete statements of work or worse, no SOW’s or agreements in place, selecting the cheapest trades, etc.

21% Communication Issues
Most customers cite poor communication with builder personnel as the major cause of their dissatisfaction. “I was told one thing and received something totally different,” is a common statement on many builder reviews. Customers felt the employees were holding back from them, didn’t inform or advise them appropriately, issues with verbal and non-verbal communication, errors in marketing collateral, not setting proper expectations or realigning customer expectations. Remember, where there is a gap in the build process, your customers’ imagination will rush in to fill what they think it should be.
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Solution: Instead of pointing fingers, look at the company policies, protocols, training program, processes first that the team member is following. It could be their behaviour, but, most often, we find the root cause is a process issue that has been the culprit.

18% Issues Delivering on Commitments Made
Many companies are more focused on ‘WOWing’ customers than fulfilling plain-vanilla promises they said they would fulfill. This focus has caused internal conflict between departments, demotivated team members, increased staff turn-over, and increased customer dissatisfaction. Most comments from customers included examples of basic promises made in terms of appointments, outstanding work, information, next steps, even service gifts that weren’t delivered on.
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Solution: Companies should focus more on realistic, achievable commitments that are measurable and proven to create happy customers than formulating new ideas that causes confusion and turmoil internally on how to deliver a WOW experience.  Don’t set yourself up to fail, create a Universal Service guideline that your entire team can commit too and deliver.

14% Issues with Trust/Integrity
Starting with the sales experience through to orientation and possession/closing, an overwhelming number of customers share their discontentment with staff behaviours. Most often the customer points to a disagreement between what’s acceptable or not during a stressful time and ‘pushing’ through to completion when the customer doesn’t agree. “I don’t give you bad money do I”? Since 2010, there has been a steady increase in the number of complaints where customers state they ‘lack the trust’ they had when they purchased from their builder. This impacts us all in the residential homebuilding industry and the number one reason why more potential buyers seek other sources of information rather than dealing directly with new homes sales representatives.

Solution:  Start by identifying what is being promised to the customer. Listen to how your team interacts with the customer and what they say. We hear people stating all the time that a trade will be ‘right over’ to fix that when in reality, it’s probably a couple of months. Those two words are cemented in the customers mind and if you can’t deliver on that, you’re loosing trust.

Also, work with your team to identify what you can do throughout the build process to maintain that trust.

At CustomerInsight, we focus on uncovering valuable insights for home builders and trade partners. Our custom-designed software can provide meaningful feedback collected from customers based on each of our client’s specific process and terminology. The results is detailed research customized to our builders’ needs.
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The Misconception of Customer Experience

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We can all agree that ‘Service’ is an action of helping or doing work for someone.  Service involves such tasks as answering questions, providing  methods and modes of training, complaint handling,  as well as demonstrating how customers can protect and maintain their investment and many more.  Often-times, companies think their customer service representatives/department should also be designing and delivering ‘customer experience’ initiatives, which is drastically broader and involves more than just service.

Here are the major differences between customer service and customer experience:

  • Customer Experience involves planned, intentional service acts that the customer has not thought of or expecting. A good example of this is providing a new innovative tool, like an app, to keep them updated of how to maintain their investment.
  • Customer Experience involves the entire company. Everyone must come together and commit to reasonable and achievable actions that are consistently deliverable and measurable.
  • Customer Experience involves breaking through barriers and setting a new standard. Many builders state that having a home 100% complete by orientation is not possible, but, consider the possibilities and impact on your company if you were able to achieve this. For years, experts said that the human body was simply not capable of a 4-minute mile.  It wasn’t just dangerous; it was impossible. In May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4.  As part of his training, he relentlessly visualized the achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body. Setting a  new standard is what sets you apart.

To paraphrase Paul Simon, “Sometimes, the issue is simply that their ceiling is your floor. “
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Organizational Misalignment Impacts Customer Experience

Customer-Certified™” companies all have one thing in common, an obsession with delivering exceptional customer experiences. Yet, some continue to be out of sync, lack the focus or drive to get everyone onboard.

So, what can you do?

Create a compelling case for a Customer Experience Program. One of the most often asked questions is how can I get executives to buy-in to the idea. This includes reviewing any customer comments in emails, phone calls, in-person feedback. Speak with the front-line and ask how many problems they are hearing from customers. Compare the cost to service post-possession versus doing it right the first time. Finally, always look at the source and come up with solutions to present. Most executives will agree that they hear about problems, but, don’t always understand the cause.

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Your front-line can offer key insights into what a customer wants.

Create a customer experience team that includes representatives from different functions. Alignment is about the collective action of the entire group and helps remove silos or functional boundaries.

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Map your customer journey from the outside-in. Start making bullet points from the time customers search online to the sales centre visit, selections, construction through past orientation and living in their new home. Document each milestone, task, how it is accomplished and who is responsible for that task. Bottlenecks will quickly appear in the process.

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The result? A clear focus for the entire team that centres on the best possible customer experience.

 

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Customer Experience Goals for 2017

Customer Experience goal planning was on the list in many company retreats this January. Without a clear CE goal companies, and employees, don’t know where they’re headed and end up, year after year, going through survival mode with a focus on just putting out fires.

Here’s how you can push past just a reactive position:

Set Tough, but, Realistic Goals
We are well into 2017, but, it’s not too late. The first thing to do is think a little about last season/building year. Make a realistic assessment.
Ask yourself the following:

  • What went well in 2016?
  • Where could you improve?
  • Did you and/or your team start strong but fade in a particular community or product?
  • Did you and/or your team feel like you could have been better in a certain area?
  • Did you and/or your team challenge yourself enough, or maybe bite off more than you could chew?

Don’t beat yourself up, but be honest and think about the parts of your company that need work. Remember, improving as a homebuilding company means assessing and training your weaknesses, not just your strengths. No one can be good at everything day in and day out, but the successful homebuilders are well-rounded in all aspects of product, service and process delivery.

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Set a couple of Intermediate Goals
for yourself/departments and a major goal for the company. Then, figure out how to achieve those goals.
Reference your mission and vision statement, your customer experience results and ask yourself if the said Goal(s) are achievable. Remember, not everyone on your team can run at a marathon pace, so, setting unrealistic, unachievable customer satisfaction goals in the 90’s when you are currently in the low 80’s might be too much of a stretch.

When you set goals, think about setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym and mnemonic that provides a framework for thinking about goals.
SMART stands for: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. Everyone needs support and coaching to stay focused and help achieve their goals.

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If the goal for 2017 is an increase in performance of 5 – 6%, your team may need some guidance, leadership, training or coaching to help get them there. Working even harder and doing the same thing with the same outcome can create internal conflict and demotivated staff. Consider those external sources who can provide the skill set to keep your team focused and successful.

Measure what you want to improve:

Assign questions on your customer surveys/reviews to your departments/employees. Doing so will help you drastically improve your customers’ experience. There is a big difference between reviewing how the company performed and measuring individual and/or departmental performance. People become keenly interested when they are measured on their performance.

Include those who build your homes:
Ever hear the phrase, “You are only as good as those who build your homes and manage your customers’ experience”? If you are not extending training, performance results to your trades/supply partners and frontline, you are missing out on a lot of lost profitability. Those companies/people want to perform the best they can for you and your customers. How are they supposed to do that without performance results?

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Look at the Big Picture
This is the foundation of keeping track of your progress and accomplishing your goals. A lot of us just go through the motions day-to-day. We are on pure “survival mode” rather than living each day to its fullest. In order for you to start tracking your progress, you must take a step back and look at the big picture with the end result in mind. Take the time to reflect upon your goals and imagine what the big picture looks like. It’s important for you to see the bigger picture rather than just living day-to-day with no direction or motivation. Consider your team members that are probably doing the same thing without clear direction from management.

Leaving a Legacy

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The Mattamy National Cycling Centre is now open in Milton and CustomerInsight is proud to have helped Make It Happen.  The centre houses the only indoor UCI homologated velodrome in Canada and only the second in North America.

It will serve as both a community recreation facility and a venue for provincial,  national and international events, including the 2015 PanAm games .

This is the beginning of a new chapter for cycling in Canada and will stand as a testament to the calibre of Canadian cycling and CustomerInsight is proud to take the lead and be part of this legacy that will benefit Canadian athletes and the community for years to come.

Setting up for the  Canadian National Track Cycling Championships via The Spec
Setting up for the Canadian National Track Cycling Championships via The Spec

 

Strategic Plan for 2015: Back to Basics

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As organizations continue to modify budgets in response to a slower new year, greater attention has been placed on “getting back to basics.”   Focusing on customer service and reinvigorating relationships are part of taking time to refocus attention on the fundamental business elements and habits that may have been neglected.

When times are good, it’s easy to say that we are “too busy” to focus on rudimentary details but, when times get tougher, it’s essential to evaluate those things that made us successful and begin implementing those strategies once again.

As such, the idea of getting back to basics even may need to be incorporated into goal-setting and/or strategic planning activities.

Here are CustomerInsight we’re starting off 2015 by focusing on:

The Basics:

  • Evaluate how we treat and value our customers, employees and trade partners.
  • Focus on ‘custom’ service.
  • Incorporate training and continuing education opportunities.
  • Provide more personalized service and attention.
  • Do not forget to listen to your clients, customers, and service partners.

Bottom Line:  Determine your value added proposition and capitalize on it.

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Gauging Customer Loyalty

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A question we often get is whether or not measuring referral potential is a sufficient gauge of customer loyalty. What do you think?

Consider the difference between loyalty and referral.

In a simple example, a loyal customer is one who talks positively about you and/or your brand without asking them or giving them incentives to do so. They won’t consider alternatives and frequently spread the word about you without you prompting them.

A referral, on the other hand, is the act of referring someone that most often carries the incentive or program behind it to prompt the customer to do so.

Our research proves they are not only different, but, the drivers of true loyalty are different than what some may expect and begs the question, if you intend to measure loyalty, measuring referral on its own, may not be sufficient.

Our research proves that reducing the customers effort or energy throughout the build process is a significant factor and more compelling than measuring referral.

Customer Effort Score (CES) determines the degree of required customer effort during a service process. Builder-Customer interaction happens at several service touch points. The efficiency of builder service is determined by how precise, convenient and helpful it is for the customer. The better the service, the customer effort would be lower, which in turn result in higher customer satisfaction.

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In terms of survey scores, CES is directly proportional to how loyal customers are. Any customer who has felt that their builder’s process was easy and the amount of effort needed to understand the process was less will result in a higher score. The higher the score, the better is the service delivery process.

What are you after, customer loyalty or customer referral?

Driver of Customer Loyalty by Kaptan Singh, Research Analyst, Customer Insight.

Managing Response Rates

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Ever wonder how many of your customers respond to builder reviews, how many they complete, don’t complete and why?
How about those who elect to remain confidential, ever get any of those?

Here are some interesting facts about respondents:

Fact:  80% of respondents who elect to be confidential state one of two reasons for withholding personal information:
1.  Scared of the builder staff lashing out at them or treating them poorly.
2.  Ending up on the, “will get done last”, list.

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Fact:  The highest response rates are received between 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Where are we, typically, during that time?

Fact:  The average response rate across Canada is 67%. Companies who set expectations of the builder reviews throughout the process and utilize CustomerInsights’ program collateral have realized as high as 82%.

Fact: 18% of customers love to talk with our Survey Administrators. Longest recorded call to date, 1hour 37 minutes and 47 seconds!

 

What’s New:
In CustomerInsights’ OnePlatform software, under ‘Response Rates’, you can click on a month to view the detailed breakdowns of respondents versus non-respondents. We have now added even more information to help explain “Undeliverables”, such as unable to contact via email, home phone, work phone, etc. based on information collected from our attempts to contact your customers. This will help your team identify areas where CustomerInsight may need more accurate or updated contact information of your customers.