Only one thing costs more than good customer care – NO customer care!

6th March 2017

There is a cost to managing your customers which, if overlooked can quickly spiral out of control. Thinking you can cope without a service will only lead to an expensive headache later on.

When it comes to managing warranty obligations we understand the economics of development. It’s a more complex and demanding responsibility than ever before – not least because the consumer has raised the bar in terms of their expectations.

There is an emerging school of thought that says “where possible, let’s not bother with a dedicated resource …any problems can be mopped up by the sales agent/the estate manager/the concierge”. Certainly that could imply a substantial avoidance of cost.

However, there is a wealth of evidence to significantly overturn this philosophy. Short-cuts in the short-term merely cause lengthy and expensive problems in the long-run. The “How” and “Why” to this is interesting, but not complicated to understand.

First and foremost, challenge any contractor who assures you that the product they are building will be ‘snag-free’. It won’t – to believe otherwise will lead to disappointment and unplanned expenditure. This is not to castigate contractors, but producing the perfect property is near impossible and an acceptance of this shows a reassuring realism.

Successfully handling customers during the Builder’s Liability period is dependent on several critical components:

UNDERSTANDING AND AWARENESS OF THE APPLICABLE WARRANTY STANDARDS

  • What is, and what is not a legitimate build defect? No contractor will thank you if you send them on a wild goose chase and this is one sure fire way to quickly destroy your working relationship.

HAVE STRONG CUSTOMER FACING SKILLS

  • Generally speaking you’re already on the back foot when a homeowner contacts you – they aren’t calling to compliment you on the quality of their new home – quite the opposite, they are complaining that something has gone wrong, so how you handle them is critical to a good outcome.

SYSTEM AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Every aspect of modern customer care is highly dependent on technology. This spans everything from how a homeowner is able to report the problem, how the problem is managed, raising job instructions, appointments and reports. A complete electronic work-flow to ensure timely resolution with a full and detailed audit, should it be required at a future point.

CONTRACTUAL CLARITY

  • Make your contract spell out precisely what you require from your contractor, when it comes to defects. Be clear about performance criteria and the consequences of non-performance. In almost all cases where a developer falls out with their contractor it’s because their contract is too vague and open to interpretation or legal abuse.

SALES AGENTS ARE GOOD AT SELLING – ESTATE MANAGERS ARE EQUIPPED TO MANAGE THE ESTATE …

But to expect either to handle customer care is a mistake which you will pay dearly for. Would you ask your bank to perform the role of architect to keep planning costs down? Or, expect the plumber to furnish the showhouse to keep a lid on interior design overheads?

Then avoid the predictable consequences of allowing the wrong people to handle customer care.

We understand how many developers face a dilemma when it comes to budgeting. As customer care comes at the end of a long and sometimes tortuous programme, cost overruns elsewhere can have eaten into any monies set aside for this exercise. All too often therefore, the budget is based on what is left!

But it is a truism that customer care will cost what it costs – eventually. Some will plan to pay for service from the outset while others may run with little to nothing, unavoidably facing the real cost of customer dissatisfaction, sooner or later. In the latter instance these costs can include not just ‘making good’ but also reputational damage to the business as a whole.

COST-EFFECTIVENESS AND VALUE ARE KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN COMMITTING TO A CUSTOMER CARE PROGRAMME

We aim to cost you less, than NO service would cost!
That might sound odd, but based on all of the above, it makes profound sense.

When all said, we’re realists and we know that budgets are finite and services have to reflect this. So, we tailor services accordingly and this means there will always be something available to meet your needs. And payment can be spread over 2 years through a FIXED known even monthly charge (irrespective of how busy things become).

BUSY PEOPLE NEED CONVENIENCE …

And we’re all busy people.

That’s one of the key reasons why we’re constantly investing in technology. Developers have access to their own secure portal (Client Portal) for real-time reports, trends and analysis of all calls received; this operates on ALL devices, in real time, 24/7. So you can see what’s happening without having to be involved (the very best sort of control).

Homeowners have access to the Occupant Portal to report a problem and track it – again with the same flexibility and effortless convenience. It’s professional, friendly and convenient.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

Over the 15 years we have operated in this market, no two clients have ever received the same service. There are infinite variations including white labelling where we can brand the service in your name, or the name of your development.

THE START POINT IS TO TALK TO US.

Let us know what you think you require and we can work with you to prepare it. There’s no cost or obligation at this stage and in most cases we work with prospective clients for months to ensure a service meets its need on all fronts.

Contact markf@afterbuild.com or tonip@afterbuild.com or call us on 01444 460129.

Unhappy homeowner
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