CustomerInsightTM Blog

Tag Archives: Customer Satisfaction

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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.

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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handshake-deal

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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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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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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