SACRAMENTO, California (October 2009) – We all know that our economy today is having its challenges. Sadly, each day we realize the fallout from the collapse of our building industry. That being said, and in spite of the downturn, there are still several builders left standing, they are 'The Survivors'?. How and why they survived is a topic for another time. For now, we must define what has changed in our industry and for the players who are still in the game. And coincidently, there are some things that will always remain the same.
For the survivors, the change in economic conditions has had many consequences. From the way builder's business is performed on a corporate level, to how builders are positioned amongst their competitors in the local market. Builders have also had to react to changes in lending and financing practices; the way they attract new buyer profiles; and they have had to re-design, re-spec, and re-brand what they will be building and selling to their future home buyers.
With all of these changes and new demands for the building industry, there is still one thing that remains just as important now, as it has in the past...Customer Service. Now more than ever, Customer Service is the constant and critical component for all Builders, looking for success and hoping to stand the test of time.
For too many years we have continued to quote the line from Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams, 'If you build it they will come.'? And they did.....Customer Service was not an issue because the balance of supply and demand was in the builder's favor.
However today, we must be vigilant and attentive in the care for our customer and understand their way of thinking and the mindset they are in. First, buyer's have plenty of home buying choices and no urgency to make a purchase decision. In fact many buyers are wary about investing in new homes, even from the builders who have survived the downturn. Remember we have recently witnessed 'larger than life'? homebuilders fail. There will remain an uncertain period of time where buyers will question the financial stability of the builders and they will wonder if the builder's warranty will be fulfilled should they collapse.
For these reasons, every home builder and home builder department MUST be Customer Service oriented. We must continue to value our buyer clients and we must ensure that we are providing superior Customer Service experiences. We must raise the bar and continue seeking higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Marketing 101 teaches us the following facts:
Did I mention, never before has customer service been so important? All of us like to share our experiences with family and friends. With the advent of social networking sites news can travel within seconds, good or bad. In the past, on average one buyer could be considered to reach a network of perhaps 20-40 friends and family members. That is 20-40 other people, separate from your buyer, who would re-tell a story of a phenomenal Customer Service experience about your company, or tell a nightmarish tale of woe about an unpleasant encounter with your company.
Due to the explosion of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the game has changed and we must always be on our toes. Depending on how your customer feels about the service they were given and the attitude of the company in general, the social networking aspect can be looked at one of two ways. If the Customer Service experience exceeded your client's expectations, this can be a fantastic and free marketing opportunity as the client posts positive information about your company. If however the experience for your client was negative, the news will travel much faster. In this worst case scenario, with the social networking aspect considered, the exposure of this negative testimonial can be a tremendous blow to your company and damage control will most likely be impossible.
To avoid negative Customer Service experiences, be sure each and every builder department is taking pride in and providing extraordinary Customer Service experiences for all of its customers. I have always loved the Macy's Motto: 'Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer'?
I recently saw a post where the writer actually implored Facebook users not to go to a local restaurant because the staff was 'extremely rude'?! Can you imagine the effect this could have when you realize the number of people that the message went out to? Would you or your builder company want that type of negative exposure?
Consider the following statistics from Facebook, and remember this is only one of the many social networking sites in use today:
These statistics are staggering when you think of them in terms of marketing reach. One potential customer can share their thoughts about you as a company literally with thousands of other people within minutes. What do you want your customers to communicate about you, positive or negative experiences?
Walt Disney once said, 'Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends'?. Never could he have imagined, that with the click of a mouse (not Mickey of course) everything can now be seen and shared instantly with your friends, and their friends, and their friends, and so on, and so on......
If you looked at customers as an investment wouldn't you want to MAXIMIZE your return?
Make a commitment today, company-wide to be more focused on your customers and provide them with exceptional customer service experiences. Remember 'Customer Service should be more than one department'?.
Michelle Shepherd is the Regional Manager for JWilliamsStaffing, Inc. Headquartered in Irvine, California and servicing over 12 major regions throughout California, Nevada and Arizona, JWilliamsStaffing provides short-term, temporary, temp-to-hire or full-time placement personnel for the real estate industry. With over 600 highly-qualified candidate resources, JWilliamsStaffing has an expanded and full range of professional services including: new homes sales and marketing; apartment leasing; property management, service technicians and porters; residential auction companies; escrow and mortgage professionals; asset management assistants; bilingual personnel; general office, administration and accounting; and special events. An interactive online system is available 24 hours a day, and live phone support is also available a full seven days a week.
For more information regarding JWilliamsStaffing and career opportunities, call (925) 858-9268 or 866-JWS-TEMP or visit www.jwilliamsstaffing.com; Facebook '“ http://tinyurl.com/facebookJWS; and LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/JWilliamsStaffing.