Customer Care is Not a Department. It’s Everyone’s Job

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Providing your customer with a great experience is one of the most important things a home builder can do. Good word of mouth leads to referrals and more business for you.

You’re servicing emotional needs, so it’s important to look at how you are treating your customers at each milestone and embedded touchpoint in the process. When you get a call from a customer saying, “you installed the wrong countertop,” you need to understand their issue and find the right messaging to address the problem. Saying, “We have verified on your selection sheet that this is the one you chose” isn’t going to fit the bill.

In a recent webinar Kerry Mulcrone, New Home Sales Consultant and Trainer with Kerry & Co., provides you with the steps on how to manage (and prevent) negative situations and give your customers a great experience.

Customer Service, Care, and Experience. What's the Difference?

While customer service, care, and experience are used somewhat interchangeably, there is a difference:

  • Customer Service and Warranty: How you assist and handle your customers in specific situations. Reactive
  • Customer Care: How well you care, treat, and interact with your customers throughout their buying, building, and after journey. Proactive
  • Customer Experience: What your customer feels and tells others, based on the combination of your service & care! Always Active

Understanding the differences between these terms helps you when setting up your customer care program. But for your program to thrive, it’s essential that you create a culture in your company to support your goal of creating a great experience for your customers.

Creating the Culture: Departments Without Borders

Which department is responsible for delivering outstanding customer experience? Every person in every department. You need to create a “Departments without borders” mindset as part of your company culture in which every person in your company owns the process and shares the customer insights across departments.

Sharing Insights Across Departments

When information and knowledge about a buyer transfers from person to person, or department to department, it makes the experience seamless across the organization. When everybody shares what they learned about the customer, they “feel the love” because everyone they interact with understands their needs and concerns. You want it to be a seamless experience.

There is both a technology and human component to sharing. Adding notes in your CRM or back-office system so it’s visible to all your co-workers, is one way to ensure that key points about the customer are captured. But it’s also important to keep the human component—call your co-worker and give them more information about the customer coming to the design studio.

For example, make sure that the Online Sales Consultant (OSC) doesn’t just transfer the appointment to the salesperson—they should share what they learned and what would be important for the onsite agent to know when they meet the buyer.

Planning for a Great Customer Experience

Understand what you want to achieve and then develop your process by mapping out customer care at each stage of the process. Figure out the touchpoints that happen in all departments so you can decide where you should embed a customer care moment. (This is when someone does something to make a difference for that customer.)

When you plan what the customer experience should be, it’s important to try to figure out the potential anomalies along the way and what you need to do to “get it right” for the customer. Put it in your process and into your system.

By caring about your customer at different points of interaction, you can avoid negative situations that needlessly arise. Figure out what works for your company, supports your brand, and determine messaging needed during the build process.

  • Pre-construction Meetings - Handing off customers from sales to construction can be a critical time where things break down. As part of ensuring the customer has a great experience, you need to support your teams with the right messaging. Make sure that sales and construction meet before the pre-construction meeting with the customer so sales can provide the construction team with information about any concerns or questions the customer may have. Taking the time to transfer this knowledge means that the construction team can address these directly with the customer—they will feel heard and provides them with a ‘wow’ moment.
  • During Construction - For each person involved in the construction, whether it’s a supervisor or trade partner, you want to establish a culture around how each role speaks to the customer. They are part of the overall experience, so you need to outline how you want the trade partner to interact with the customer. During construction, when there is a lot of excitement around the build, is a key time to get referrals in the long run. Your words and conversations will help your referrals. Explaining what will happen next—setting expectations—gives the customer a better understanding of the construction process so they feel comfortable. Make sure that you inform customers of common things they might see while their home is under construction, so when they see some of those things, they're not surprised by it.
  • Handing off to Warranty or Customer Care - This stage is a common time when problems arise, if any. It is make or break on how you hand off the baton because both departments have their hand on it at the same time. Communication and processes are critical at this point. Put your plan in writing, create a mini-script, and make it personal. If you developed a process last year, make sure that you evaluate it this year to vet that it’s still effective and works for the customer.

Common Language Creates a Common Experience

When setting up your plan, creating a common language is important. Pick 3 to 5 words that are threaded through all the processes so that the customer continues to hear the same messages that will reinforce your brand. Make sure everyone—from sales to your closing department to your trades--understands this is how we treat people.

Be prepared and planned in your presentation, but not overly scripted. While there are a lot of items that you may want to show in your pre-construction meeting with the client, it’s important to ask the customer about what they want to see to make sure it’s covered.

Planning for a Great Customer Experience

When building a home, things don’t always go as planned. That’s why it’s important to plan your customer care—defining the level of communication, both internally to each other and externally to trades and customers, and processes across departments to give your customer a great experience along the way. Happy customers will share their experience with others and can lead to referrals and more business for you!

Watch the on-demand webinar with Kerry Mulcrone, “Customer Care is Not a Department, it is Your Future

ECI Staff Contributors

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.