CustomerInsightTM Blog

Tag Archives: Customer Experience

windowcondensation

Condensation – Top of Mind with Homeowners

We all know that Interior window condensation is caused by excessive moisture in the house, and it often occurs in the winter when the warm air inside the house condenses on the cold windows. Exterior window condensation can also occur in warmer months and is simply dew forming when the window is colder than the dew point. However, your homeowners may not know, or remember, when you explained this to them.

At CustomerInsight, we wanted to know how often condensation was mentioned in customer builder reviews and if this was an opportunity to remind customers how to best control this naturally occurring phenomenon.

Here’s what we discovered:
• More than any other time throughout the year, homeowners mentioned condensation on their windows in December and January, a total of 2,574 mentions, compared to 183 times in November, 67 times in February or 11 times in August.

• Of those homeowners who commented about condensation on their 1 month or 13 month surveys during December and January, 82% of the comments were negative. Homeowners felt their builder lacked quality workmanship they were promised or that the windows installed in their home were cheap.

A shocking finding for those who sink their teeth into warranty/post-occupancy service and client care and who field these incoming inquiries. Wouldn’t it be nice to alleviate some of those questions?

If you consider the amount of information we provide to customers, especially during pdi orientation and at time of possession, it’s overwhelming. We all have a limited bandwidth of information we can process at any one time, and for new homeowners, they just moved into a brand new home that carries a 1 year warranty plus extended warranties. They care, but, not so much at that particular time.

At time of sale buyers can be overwhelmed with all the information provided to them.
At time of sale buyers can be overwhelmed with all the information provided to them.

So, the question is, when do they care? The answer:  when it happens. We spend so much time educating customers about maintaining their home, sump pump, furnace filters, HRV, solar hot water collector, to name a few, that they tune out after 12-15 minutes. And if you’re sending information to read that is longer than 2 paragraphs, you may loose them. With so much going on it’s no wonder  they forget what was told to them earlier in the process.  This has  a big impact on how customers rate their warranty /customer service representatives on their post-possession builder reviews.

What can you do?
To understand how we can be successful is to understand the psychology of the customer. Consider when people are looking for a new home, their stress level is low, there’s not a lot of pressure because they are in fact, just looking. However, as they commit, purchasing a new home increases the pressure and stress level because it can’t be returned. Customers can’t use the home for a month or two then return it for a full refund, like many other purchases they have experienced.

Fast forward to the pdi orientation and possession and it’s information overload. How are we helping customers prepare for another transition?

From purchaser to homeownership and maintaining their investment? Some builders feel that providing the customer a 3-ring binder or thumb drive full of information is sufficient. But, it is those who go above and beyond who are winning customer-choice awards and top of mind when talking about how great their builder was. Providing a book of information is not enough and probably the reason why you may have so many incoming calls about the same concerns. What we need to do is have a process that supports the customer when they need the information.

For example, if you have customers taking possession in April – October, they will most certainly forget what you told them about condensation and how to correct it.

We need to remind them. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been in the homebuilding industry long enough to know what frequently asked questions come to you throughout the year. Therefore, we need to be pre-emptive and remind the customers at the right time. Send out regular notifications to your customers just before something happening. With most customers commenting about condensation in December and January, you could send them a notice in October to help set expectations of what condensation is, why it happens and the best way to correct it.

Doing so will show how much your team cares about the customer, reduces incoming calls, helps keep your brand top of mind and a great reminder of why they built with you over any other builder.

Some of our H.O.M.E. Award winners have shown us the notification they send with a Youtube link about condensation because they know people are more willing to watch a quick 2-3 minute video than they are to read a 2 page notice.

checklist2To some, home building is full of dry, boring material that needs our customers’ attention. We need to understand our buyers’ and how to best transfer our knowledge base so they can maintain their investment.

homeownergifts

What are The Best Types of Gifts for Your Homeowners?

When it comes to new home gift ideas and what residential builders could consider, it’s time to move beyond the inexpensive and company branded items. In fact, it’s pretty much time to move beyond anything with your logo on it when it comes to giving gifts.

As many new homebuyers stated in our recent annual study, “I’ll wear their brand if they earned it.”

So, if you are one of those builders who have ‘earned it’, slap that logo on everything.
Otherwise, what makes a great closing gift?

Customer Comments:
In the past year, CustomerInsight received thousands of responses from new homebuyers on this topic and decided to share the findings with our valued clients.

  • Do NOT waste time and money on a gift unless you have the home 100% complete, clean and move-in ready.
  • Do NOT think a gift will cover up poor workmanship or help offset homeowners’ time off work to allow trades to finish or fix issues. “My time is worth month than you would spend on a gift.”
  • The gift should be thoughtful, unique.
  • Don’t include items that have already become an expectation such as any type of home cleaning service/product or items (‘Why didn’t you clean my house before delivering it to me?’), tools (‘I shouldn’t have to fix these deficiencies myself’), or home upgrades such as CFL light bulbs, faucet aerators, etc. (‘Why didn’t you just include this in my home in the first place?”)
  • Be careful not to offend.  A personalized gift can go wrong if you don’t get it right. Some items may offend based on lifestyle or culture. Know your customer before making assumptions.
  • ‘Floating’ the value of the gift based on the value of home is dangerous. Neighbours do talk and compare notes. Any new home is that homeowner’s biggest investment, regardless of size.

Top Customer Gift Recommendations:
Here are suggestions left by homeowners of their favourite gift ideas.  Remember a gift should be in addition to fulfilling your obligations and commitments. An extravagant gift will not replace lost good will.  Microsoft Word - chart.docx

Best practices:
Keep in mind, the gift should be relevant to the individual(s) receiving it, it should be about them not you. Show them you value their business and have put some serious thought into finding the perfect way to say thank you. The larger the builder, the more challenging it is to personalize the gift, but, well worth the effort. Here’s what many of our top performing builders had to say on this topic:
• “We always make sure that the gift is presented to the customer once they take possession – usually in the afternoon. We have heard of other builders telling their customer to stop by the sales centre to pick up their gift, which is horrible.”
• “Our gift always includes a hand-written thank you card from the President of our company which could be 560 letters this year.”
• “We source local businesses for our gifts and it’s important to support the community.”
• “Our team has a budget they use over the course of three months instead of one large gift at closing. It keeps us top-of-mind and the customer sees us still engaged well after closing.”
• “We know that everything we do speaks to our brand and always provide a personalized gift. The information we use comes from the interaction from our sales team early on.”

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Couple standing in front of a new home with agent.

Facts of Selling New Homes

Selling To Today’s Customer

  1. Successful sales people ask more questions.
  2. Selling must be based on strategy … which must be based on customer purchase decisions.
  3. If a selling system is focused on how an associate needs to sell, rather than on how a customer buys, it is less likely to be successful.
  4. As pressure increases, a customer’s awareness of “Purchase Risk” increases, which causes sales effectiveness to decrease.9152570
  5. Buyers shop and shop and shop because they are concerned about the consequences involved with a bad decision.
  6. Buyers shop and shop and shop because they unconsciously know that “they don’t know … what they don’t know”.
  7. Associates that “Close” (offer solutions) before a “Need is Fully Developed”, end up with more objections to handle (developing is different than asking about a need).
  8. When they don’t have a strategy for selling, an associate’s focus turns toward relationship building and presenting.
  9. When an associate “sells” based on what a customer would get, price sensitivity will follow.
  10. Selling new homes is work. If you think you can get away with an order taking mentality, you will be replaced.Couple at real estate agencyToday’s sales success is directly proportional to helping customers realize the need for change. Let CustomerInsight help you gain insight. OnePlatform is the only software to monitor your prospective buyer experiences, customer satisfaction, employee and trade performance.

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Customer service satisfaction survey

The Misconception of Customer Experience

Customer service satisfaction survey

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.

customerexperience
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.

workplacedepartments

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.

2017

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.

Smart Marketing

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.