It’s all about perspective
Was reading yesterday a little article by Tom Peters, customer service guru, about his experience with a small remodeling project at his own house. My first thought was that the remodeler must have been crazy to take on this guy’s project. He had to know that the experience would be documented in some book or magazine article. If you want to read Tom’s blog go to http://www.tompeters.com/entries.php?note=008037.php He could have done the best remodel in his company’s history, but doing it for a customer service consultant, what’s he thinking?
So, I began asking myself the question, what if we built a home for someone as gifted in writing as Tom Peters? What if our buyer was a “customer service” nut, would we be happy with the articles and comments? Or, better yet, doesn’t every customer deserve the care that Tom Peter’s gets because he can write articles about the process?
Ouch. In today’s world of internet and business technology, our customers legitimately have high expectations for the not only a great product, but a very exhilarating process. Have you ever heard someone say: “Don’t build a new home, it will be the most stressful thing you ever did”? Well in some cases with some builders that myth is a truism. So, how do you go about choosing a builder who will not only build a great place for you and your family, but will also do so with a process that is exhilarating?
Some leading questions that may help in your search for that perfect relationship with a new home builder:
Can I talk to your subcontractors? If they say no, why? If they say, we change subs every house, why? Those subs are the greatest asset of a home builder. They do the work, they make the experience.
Can I get a list of all your homebuyers, so I can call them randomly? If they only give you a couple names, aren’t they keeping you away from the ones that weren’t happy?
Do you mind if we stop and talk to homeowners this weekend? It just so happens that homeowners out watering the yard will be pretty darn open face to face, but not over the phone.
Which REALTORs do you do business with? If the answer is only one name, do they really have a good reputation with the rest of the agents in the community. If the answer is, we’ll work with any agent, do they pay agents or have they made a habit of not paying real estate agents?
Now truthfully I may be crazy for writing this article. Does my own company answer these questions fully and are we confident enough in our successful relationships with customers? No. But, we’ve decided to embrace the difficulty, or impossibility, of exhilarating customer experiences and move mountains if we have to get there. And then raise the bar and go further. Oh we make mistakes, the challenge is, how do we grow and change our processes and relationships to encourage customer exhilaration? Making a mistake, that’s normal. Making the same one over and over, or worse, lowering the bar to an expectation that a mistake is just common, that’s the thing that makes people crazy about construction. We complain a lot in our industry about the “predator” customer. The one that enters into a contract just so they can get “free” stuff or get cash to close, or sues after closing so they can get more “free” stuff. If you’re one of these types, please buy an existing house. But, for all the honest homebuyers out there, we may have lowered the bar too far, it’s time to raise it back up.
Tom Peters goes on to suggest that we’ll never take on the world’s best manufacturers with a philosophy that construction just isn’t a place for predictable outcomes and processes. No, we’ll get run over by solid technology and predictable outcomes. Now that’s a lot of philosophical talk for me, here’s where we see the application.
When a roofer says Wednesday, does it actually mean the work will get done Wednesday? Does the builder tell the customer Thursday, thus lowering the bar? Does the builder say Wednesday and then find out from the homebuyer that no one showed up? Does the roofer wait till Thursday to say “oh I drove by and didn’t have the right materials”? Does the customer have to check out the finished product to find out the wrong color was delivered? Does the builder have to send out employees because the subcontractor got mad and left the site?
Or, does the roof get completed Wednesday with the right color, with the right timing, with the right quality of construction, professionally? Every time?
Sunday, August 14, 2005
It's all about perspective
It’s all about perspective