In the home building industry, customer care and the customer experience are related but distinct concepts that are crucial for the success of the homebuilder.

Customer care primarily focuses on addressing and resolving customer issues and concerns after the sale has been made or during the construction process. The customer experience encompasses the entire journey that a customer goes through when interacting with the home building company, from the initial inquiry to post-purchase interactions.

basics of customer care for homebuilders

Customer Care: Understanding the Basics

Customer care is reactive in nature, as it responds to customer inquiries as they arise. It involves providing support and assistance to customers when they encounter problems with their newly constructed homes; such as addressing defects, fixing construction-related issues, or handling warranty claims.

It is important to respond promptly, address queries in a timely manner, and solve problems efficiently. It often involves a dedicated customer care team or department within in the building company that is responsible for handling customer complaints and ensuring that the homes meet quality standards.

Customer care can have a significant impact on a company’s reputation, customer loyalty, and overall success. Here are some key aspects of the role of customer care:

  • First Impression — Customer care is often the first point of contact between a customer and the builder. A positive initial interaction can set the tone for the entire customer relationship. Customers respond to friendly, attentive, and helpful representatives and can create a favorable first impression.
  • Problem Resolution — Effective customer care is essential for resolving customer issues and complaints promptly and efficiently. When customers see that their concerns are taken seriously and resolved to their satisfaction, it fosters trust and confidence in the company.
  • Communication — Regular and open communication with customers is vital for building trust. Keeping customers informed about their orders, product updates, and any issues helps to manage expectations and reduce uncertainty. Utilizing a homeowner portal can help keep an open line of communication. Customers can follow the progress of a concern, file a claim, or confirm appointments in one easy access point.
  • Consistency — Consistency in customer care is crucial for building trust over the long term. Customers expect the same level of service and support every time they interact with the company.
  • Empathy — Showing empathy and understanding towards customers’ problems and concerns helps build a strong emotional connection. When customers feel that a company cares about their well-being, they are more likely to remain loyal.
  • Brand Advocacy — Satisfied customers who have had positive interactions with customer care are more likely to become advocates for the brand. They may recommend the company to others, further strengthening its reputation and customer base.

Customer Experience: Beyond Basic Interaction

Customer experience is proactive and seeks to exceed customer expectations, fostering loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals. It involves designing a seamless and enjoyable customer journey, personalized services, effective communication, and attention to detail to enhance the overall perception of the home builder.

It focuses on creating positive and memorable interactions at every touchpoint, including marketing, sales, design, construction, and post-sale service. The customer experience is a holistic approach that strives to create a positive and satisfying journey for customers at every stage of their interaction with the company.

Emotions, perception, and overall satisfaction play significant roles in shaping the customer experience. They influence how customers perceive a brand, whether they become loyal, and whether they recommend a company to others. Here is a breakdown of how they impact the experience:

1. Emotions

  • Positive Emotions — When customers experience positive emotions during their interactions with a brand, they are more likely to have a favorable view of the company. Positive emotions like happiness, excitement, and delight can create memorable experiences that customers associate with the brand.
  • Negative Emotions — On the other hand, negative emotions such as frustration, anger, or disappointment can have a detrimental impact on the customer experience. Unresolved issues or poor service can lead to negative emotions and drive customers away.

2. Perception

  • Brand Image — Customers’ perceptions of a brand are shaped by their interactions and experiences with it. Consistently positive experiences contribute to a positive brand image, while negative experiences can corrode that image.
  • Product/Service Quality — If customers consistently receive high-quality products or services, their perception of the brand as high-quality is reinforced.

3. Overall Satisfaction

  • Customer Loyalty — Satisfaction is a key driver of customer loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to return to repeat business and become long-term loyal customers. They are also less likely to be swayed by competitors.
  • Word-of-Mouth Recommendations — Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends, family, and social networks. Word-of-mouth recommendations can be a powerful tool for attracting new customers.
  • Retention — Satisfied customers are less likely to switch to competitors.
fundamentals customer experience for homebuilders

Key Differences Between Customer Care and Customer Experience

1. Focus and Scope

  • Customer care primarily focuses on addressing specific inquiries, concerns, and issues that customers may have during or after the home-building process. It is primarily reactive, responding to customer-initiated interactions and problems.
  • Construction management software is an effective tool for keeping track of each customer, building a file to monitor issues, and ultimately create a homebuyer portal for streamlined communication.
  • Customer experience encompasses the entire journey that customers go through when interaction with the home builder. It goes beyond addressing specific inquiries and concerns and is a holistic approach to shaping how customers perceive and engage with the company.
  • Customers are changing and so are their interpretations of what the customer experience should encompass. Technology is a top priority for today’s home buyers. According to a Salesforce survey, 60% of customer touchpoints take place online and 83% of those customers expect to connect with a support representative immediately upon contact. In addition, 83% expect their problems to be resolved by one person. They are no longer content to be passed between departments to fix their problems.
focus and scope customer care vs customer experience for homebuilders

2. Proactive vs Reactive Approach

In the home building industry, a proactive approach and a reactive approach differ significantly in how they address customer needs and potential issues:

  • Issue Response — Customer care in home building often operates reactively, responding to customer issues and concerns as they arise. This means that the customer care team takes action in response to customer-initiated inquiries or complaints.
  • Problem Solving — Customer care teams primarily solve specific problems and addressing customer inquiries, such as defects, construction-related issues, or warranty claims. They focus on resolving these issues efficiently and satisfactorily.
  • After-the Fact — The reactive approach typically deals with issues after they have already occurred. This approach is essential for resolving immediate customer concerns and ensuring customer satisfaction, but it does not generally prevent issues from arising in the first place.
  • Anticipation and Prevention — Customer experience (CX) takes a proactive approach by aiming to anticipate and prevent issues before they become customer problems. It involves identifying potential pain points in the customer journey and implementing measures to mitigate or eliminate them.
  • Continuous Improvement — A proactive CX strategy involves an ongoing commitment to enhancing the overall customer journey. This includes improving communication, product quality, personalization, and customer satisfaction at every stage of the process. Builders are turning to construction ERP software (enterprise resource planning) to create a central database that incorporates management of general contractors, subcontractors, financial/accounting, and service. With improved internal systems, a proactive customer experience allows for a personalized design and customization options to meet individual customer preferences and expectations.
  • Tailor-made — A proactive customer experience approach puts the customer at the center of decision-making. It involves understanding customer needs, preferences, and expectations and tailoring the entire journey to meet or exceed those expectations.
  • Long-Term focus — Proactive CX measures aim to build long-term customer relationships and loyalty. By consistently delivering a positive and hassle-free experience, it encourages customers to return for future projects and refer the company to others.
proactive vs reactive approach customer experience for homebuilders

3. Transactional vs Relational

Again, there are two different ways of interacting with customers—transactional (customer care) and relational (customer experience):

  • Focus on Immediate Transactions — primarily focused on specific interactions with customers. Benefits of construction management software include resolving immediate issues, concerns, and inquiries that customers may have.
  • Issue Resolution — customer care teams address defects, construction-related issues, warranty claims, and other complaints.
  • Limited Interaction — once the issue is resolved, there may not be any ongoing relationship.
  • Customer satisfaction — while essential for ensuring customer satisfaction on a case-by-case basis, it may not foster long-term customer loyalty or relationships.
  • Long-Term Relationship Building — it recognizes that customer interactions go beyond individual transactions.
  • Holistic Customer Journey — create a positive and consistent experience at every touchpoint throughout the customer’s engagement with the company.
  • Proactive Engagement — includes personalized communication, follow-ups, and ongoing support to meet the evolving needs and preferences of each customer.
  • Emphasis on Loyalty — building strong, lasting relationships with customers is a central goal of the relational approach. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat buyers, refer others to the company, and develop loyalty over time.
  • Long-Term Value — prioritize customer retention, not just customer acquisition, as a key business strategy.
Customer Care vs. Customer Experience: What Every Home Builder Needs to Know

4. Department vs Company-Wide

While customer care is often handled as a departmental function, the customer experience generally involves all departments and aspects of the company:

  • Specific Department — team of professionals dedicated to addressing customer inquiries, concerns, and issues.
  • Focused Responsibilities — a primary responsibility of the customer care department to handle customer-related matters such as warranty claims, defect resolution, post-sale support, and addressing immediate customer needs and questions.
  • Reactive — solve specific problems and ensuring customer satisfaction on a case-by-case basis.
  • Limited Scope — limited to post-sale and problem-solving activities and may not be directly involved in shaping the overall customer experience.
  • Involves All Departments — CX involves all departments and every interaction throughout the customer journey.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration — needed to achieve a positive customer experience including marketing, sales, design, production, post-sale service, and more.
  • Proactive and Holistic — with a goal of creating a seamless, satisfying, and consistent experience for customers at every stage of their engagement with the company.
  • Long-Term Focus — recognizing that customer interactions span the entire lifecycle, from initial contact to post-sale support and beyond.
  • Company Culture —  one of the ways home builders can revive their business is by instilling a customer-centric culture throughout the organization, where every employee understands the importance of delivering exceptional experiences and values customer feedback.
department vs company wide customer experience for homebuilders
balance of customer experience and customer care in homebuilding

Importance of Striking the Right Balance

Both customer care and customer experience are crucial for building a strong reputation, fostering customer loyalty, and driving business growth.

Customer care is vital for addressing immediate customer concerns, resolving issues, and ensuring customer satisfaction in the short term. While customer experience takes a long-term approach with a goal of shaping the overall perception of the company and create consistently positive interactions throughout the entire customer process.

By resolving problems quickly, customers will feel valued and remain loyal. Efficient customer care builds trust and confidence in the builder’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat buyers.

Customer experience focuses on creating memorable and positive interactions at every state of the customer journey. Customers who have an exceptional overall experience are more likely to become advocates for the company. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend the home builder to friends and family, leading to company growth and market reputation.

A positive customer experience fosters brand loyalty and sets the home builder apart from the competition. It becomes the key differentiator that attracts new customers and retains existing ones.

FAQ about Customer Care vs. Customer Experience in Homebuilding

Customer care primarily focuses on addressing and resolving customer issues and concerns after the sale has been made or during the construction process. The customer experience encompasses the entire journey that a customer goes through when interacting with the home building company.

Both customer care and customer experience are crucial for building a strong reputation, fostering customer loyalty, and driving business growth.

Construction management software is an effective tool for keeping track of each customer, building a file to monitor issues, and ultimately create a homebuyer portal for streamlined communication.

Customer experience (CX) takes a proactive approach by aiming to anticipate and prevent issues before they become customer problems. It involves identifying potential pain points in the customer journey and implementing measures to mitigate or eliminate them.

Satisfaction is a key driver of customer loyalty. Satisfied customers, whether it is from excellent customer care or a positive customer experience, are more likely to return to repeat business and become long-term loyal customers. They are also less likely to be swayed by competitors.

Technology, especially construction management software, has a profound impact on streamlining interactions in the construction industry. It promotes efficient communication, collaboration, project management, cost control, and risk mitigation, ultimately leading to improved outcomes, reduced delays, and increased client satisfaction. Homeowner portals can also provide an efficient method of communication adding another level for improved customer relations.

Stepper Homes, HOME Awards winner of the Best Customer Experience award, has excelled by turning customer experience into one of their key competitive advantages. Recognizing the value of customer experience to their business, including generating positive referrals, Stepper Homes partnered with CustomerInsight. Armed with CustomerInsight surveys and analysis, they developed a comprehensive strategy to improve overall customer experience by actively listening to the voice of the customer – and tracking the results.

Stepper Homes Success Story

“We reach out to every single homeowner who is NOT happy with us. We work to resolve their concerns as quickly as possible.”

— Carol Warner, Customer Experience Analyst at Stepper Homes

Conclusion

Understanding and integrating both customer care and experience is paramount for home builders. It not only leads to short-term customer satisfaction but also fosters long-term loyalty and sustainable growth in the highly competitive construction industry.

Research shows that 73% of consumers view their home buying experience more important than price and quality when making a purchasing decision. By understanding the importance of these aspects and integrating them into every facet of the business, the company can build a strong reputation, cultivate customer loyalty, and ultimately thrive in the competitive home building industry.