Managing Buyers’ Expectations
BY BOB MIRMAN
Each of us has a different perspective, a unique way of looking at the ongoing turmoil around us. Every day, we each interpret what’s happening in our world because we need to see it this way to validate our beliefs and provide a rationale for the way we behave.
You may have heard about the man who goes to his psychiatrist and says “Doctor, my brother is nuts. He thinks he’s a chicken.” The shrink says “Why don’t you have him committed?” The man says “Because I need the eggs.”
So how do you rationalize those low scores on your customer satisfaction evaluations? What’s your perspective: Do you take responsibility for your buyers’ high – and often unrealistic – expectations about the purchase and ownership experience? Or do you believe that each buyer brings his own expectations, and these are cast in stone?
You may be thinking that the only way to improve your customers’ perceptions of your team’s performance is to perform better. That is your perspective, your way of explaining the world around you. But there is another element which you need to consider. Customer satisfaction is simply the difference between what your customers expect… and what they receive. So, you can perform better, or you can CHANGE THE PROMISES YOU MAKE.
For our highest rated builders, managing customers’ expectations is a systematic, planned process. All customer-facing team members play a role. The builder brings a selected group of sales, design, mortgage, construction, and warranty representatives together for a half-day to systematically plan how they will pro-actively manage their buyers’ expectations. Some of our clients provide a list of these expectations to their buyers. This level of transparency is not only good for your buyers, but it also reminds your team members that meeting or exceeding these expectations is now a required part of their performance criteria.
Customer satisfaction levels will rise when you consistently communicate realistic expectations.
Here is a short test to self-evaluate the manner in which your company is setting proper expectations for your homebuyers.
And remember your response when someone asks you why you are working on setting these expectations: “Because I need the eggs.”
Respond to each question with a 1, 2, or 3:
1 = We do NOT do this at all
2 = We do this SOME of the time
3 = We do this MOST of the time
How often does your company/division give buyers specific expectations for…
1. Rigidity of interior design cut-off dates? (Circle ONE: 1 2 3)
2. Anticipated closing date (at least 40-days in advance) (1 2 3)
3. Typical time for sales rep to return call (1 2 3)
4.Typical time for service rep to respond to request (1 2 3)
5. Policies for contacting construction superin tendent (1 2 3)
6. Likelihood of punch-list at move-in (1 2 3)
7. Punch-list completion time (1 2 3)
8. Probable multiple requests for same docu ments during mortgage process (1 2 3)
9. Settling effects during years 1-5 (1 2 3)
10. How often do you make promises you can beat 95% of the time? (1 2 3)
Scoring Guide: <12 = Terrible; 13-16 = Poor; 17-21 = Unimpressive; 22-27 = Good; >28 = Excellent!
Bob Mirman is a psychologist and founder and CEO of 34-year old Eliant, the building industry’s largest firm specializing in managing the customer experience. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.