Unexpected service yields powerful stories in social media
By BOB MIRMAN
I read today that the family of a teenager killed in a 116 mile-per-hour Tesla crash is currently suing the automaker, claiming it makes “unreasonably dangerous” cars. Note that the 18-year-old driver achieved this unreasonable speed on a curve marked with a 30 mile-per-hour limit.
In a now-infamous case, a woman successfully sued McDonalds for $2.9 million for burns she suffered after she spilled a cup of coffee on herself at the drive-through window.
And then there is the curious case of Roy L. Pearson, who sued his local dry cleaners for $67-million for losing his gray pants. You know, for the inconvenience and mental anguish. (Case dismissed.)
Unfortunately, these are the negative customer experience stories that all too often grab social media headlines. If your glass is half empty, you could read these and other similar stories about homebuyers and conclude that customers are crazy, buyers are liars, and that there IS a natural adversarial relationship between homebuilders and consumers.
And you would be wrong.
After 35 years of collecting survey evaluations from almost 3 million homebuyers and owners, almost 90 percent of these customers say they would recommend their builder to a friend. Buyers’ comments in these surveys make it perfectly clear that most are looking to develop a positive relationship with their homebuilder, anxious to confirm that they were right in choosing this company to build their dream home.
Although I will easily agree that about two to three percent of homebuyers create excessive stress and absorb a disproportionate amount of your time, these buyers are aberrations. Do not allow the negative stories about unreasonable consumers to cloud your vision.
“No one can sing your praises with more credibility than your customers.”
Homebuilders must overwhelm potential negative publicity by proactively looking for ways to create incredibly positive stories, which are bound to be repeated, passed from person to person. Word-of-mouth is extraordinarily powerful.
In fact, the strongest sales team you have is an army of delighted homebuyers.
And after being retold over time, these stories become legends. Now we are talking about your reputation.
- “I have to admit I wasn’t very happy my refrigerator wasn’t working within days after move-in. And even less so with (manufacturer’s) offer to have the part delivered ‘within 3-4 days.’ But we were blown away by your service rep (Steve), who took over a half-day to personally drive up to Houston to pick up the part and have it installed, all within 24 hours. Thank you!”
- “At my closing, I was totally surprised when I received a dog-tag for “Lucy” (my new puppy), with my new contact info. I was no longer as worried about losing my pup on move-in day!”
- “I never expected my design consultant to contact me just before the final walk to let me know she had inspected my home and was calling to confirm that my selections had been correctly installed. This had been my biggest fear; it was a relief to hear from her!”
Regardless of the well-crafted messages created by your marketing agency, no one can sing your praises with more credibility than your customers.
Look for ways to surprise your customers with unexpected service and you will be rewarded with incredible stories that will find their way to social media and drive prospects to your sales offices.
Bob Mirman is a psychologist and founder/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