A good builder knows that customer satisfaction starts long before the sales process even begins
By Zack Johnston
Homebuilding is a trade that has always seen constant changes and adjustments. Whether it is for demographic changes or seasonal trends, the industry knows how to reinvigorate itself when needed. What has not changed, however, is the oh-so-important goal shared by all in the industry: customer satisfaction.
This common motivation goes beyond just the realtor/buyer relationship, as good customer service is needed in every part of the home development and sales process to ensure all parties walk away with a smile. Whether you’re aiming to sell out a new community, or simply supplying developers with raw material, the goal is still the same. Providing the best quality product, as well as the best service, is a recipe for success.
It’s much like how builders and architects put a great deal of their efforts into making sure their homes are designed with integrity and security. Things like a high-performance building envelope, convenient smart-home technology, or an energy-efficient HVAC system are all great features that would not be immediately obvious to the average buyer. Yet, these are the kind of subtle, but impactful features that show customers you care about their homeownership experience.
A builder can boast their visual aesthetics or varied amenities, but really this is the low-hanging fruit compared to the kinds of details that exude quality to customers. Most buyers can sense when something is all flash and no substance. A home that is all show will not provide a comfortable shelter in harsh weather, or provide the healthiest environment for daily living.
“Since most people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, a home’s indoor environment can influence almost every aspect of a person’s or family’s life including their health, their moods, how well they sleep, how productive they can be, and much more,” according to Bill Ramsey, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, a principal with KTGY Architecture + Planning.
Whenever new home listings are completely void of any details about things like indoor air quality or insulation, it becomes clear very quickly where corners have been cut. This all comes back eventually to hurt the stakeholders, as today’s savvy customers take this information and form snap judgments that can easily make or break a sale. You only get to make one first impression, and homebuyers need to see right away the quality and attention that has been put into their potential purchase.
By putting in the time to select quality products and use best practices, builders can prove the value of their products easily to customers at the start. The interesting designs and eye-catching amenities are part of the equation, certainly, but these details should be the icing on the cake and not the whole meal. This means putting greater attention on things like air ventilation, eliminating toxins, or reducing energy dependence. Customers will see the value when the building techniques and materials have been properly explained to them.
This is all part of how great companies have achieved great customer service records; they understand that customer service starts even before the initial contact with a potential customer is made.
The ability to provide good service comes from a sense of accountability and being proactive. Good service should always be present in any interactions with customers, but it begins with the homes themselves and what goes in them.
Building up a foundation, no pun intended, of best homebuilding practices and high-performance features will lead to an overall easier and more successful customer service process. Buyers will see from the get-go that you are committed to the quality and craftsmanship of homebuilding, which allows the transaction to begin with a foot in the right direction.
Marketers and relators can then be that much more effective at communicating the benefits and values of their homes knowing it isn’t just smoke and mirrors. As long as the folks tasked with making the sales are well versed and communicate clearly, the product can then speak for itself and they can focus more on creating a connection.
All great salespeople will tell you that customers do not buy the product; they buy the salesperson. They buy the realtor who can make them feel right at home, or the architect that can clearly map out their vision, or the builder that makes buyers feel confident in their decision.
Purchasing a home is undoubtedly a big decision for most people, so they need the reassurance of quality customer expertise to ease their worries. This is the kind of service that can only come from places with a culture of quality. Putting in the necessary care attention to constructing homes will build up that culture, and carrying it through to the sales side will untimely lead to far greater success.
Zack Johnston is an Assistant Editor for Builder and Developer Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com