Industry is listening to the consumer

2nd April 2020

It is the 15th year of the combined HBF and NHBC survey for customer satisfaction. The industry has used the survey as a barometer, not just for individual house builders but for the sector. This against a backdrop of negative media coverage with regular stories of poor build quality and lack lustre service has clearly forced the sector to focus harder on what needs to change. And it appears to be working!

This year is a record year for 5-star status. The survey results for 2019 have awarded 5-stars to thirty six developers which is the highest score possible (last year only 21 achieved the same accolade).

Notable results include McCarthy and Stone’s 15th year of scoring a 5-star rating. Their outstanding example in customer service is clear whenever we speak with industry colleagues. We’re also pleased to see some of the top 20 developers continuing to impress in their category. Large developers like Bellway and Barratt, while Bovis will also be celebrating their 5-star award following difficult recent years.

The survey is not ubiquitous and will only apply to those builders who have subscribed to be included through the HBF. For this reason, we can’t know that the results indicate a turning tide in customer service, but we can hope. Recognising the particularly challenging times we currently live in, HBF executive Chairman Stewart Basely said …”During the current coronavirus crisis, builders’ relationships with their customers will be especially key as they help them through the sales and after care processes whilst prioritising measures to keep both customers and staff safe.” 

The improvement of customer satisfaction is, to use the phrase, not rocket science. It requires not only selling a product which is ready to be sold but following up consistently when other issues arise. For reasons we all know too well, this has proved challenging. The remedy has focused on these two areas and so we have seen developers employing new checklist procedures for sign off as well as customer service champions and dedicated teams to deliver customer satisfaction.

2020 heralded the announcement that a New Homes Ombudsman shall be appointed which is a testament to government’s desire to improve the quality of house building as well as the number of houses the industry builds. This new authoritative body will surely only drive satisfaction up, if not directly, then by forcing builders to look carefully at their policies and procedures in lieu of regulations being enshrined in law.

The survey, media negativism and the introduction of the New Homes Ombudsman pose the question for many developers … “How can we make our customers happy?” For those who have gone the extra mile over the last year and been awarded the coveted 5- stars, After Build congratulate you. We have always known the true value of making After Care a central principle in any organisation.

There will be other builders who are simply not in a position right now to give After Care the focus they know it needs. If you find yourself in this position then we would strongly recommend outsourcing to the experts in this area. After Build has helped many developers achieve high satisfaction for their customers and if you have specific goals related to the HBF survey or otherwise, we can help. 

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During this difficult time After Build’s service continues as normal. Given our technology platform, the team is able to operate remotely without impacting on service levels – this includes Out of Hours Emergency cover.

In the event that a developer’s contractor is unable to attend a property (either because they are instructed not to, or because a homeowner does not wish it) the Property Coordinator will take full details of the issue, recording it on our system in readiness for making an appointment just as soon as matters return to normal.

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