The customer experience is the new product. Today’s homeowners are evaluating contractors on the quality of experience not just the quality of the product.
Why construction contractors are falling short on delivering a positive customer experience?
As contractors, we’re not just building and delivering a project, we must build a relationship with the customer. When discord strikes during a construction project it’s usually not the final product that a homeowner is unhappy with, it’s the process.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is defined by interactions between a client and a construction contractor throughout their project relationship. Interaction can include cultivation, advocacy, communication and service.
The customer experience is an integral part of a construction project because a customer who has a positive experience with a contractor is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer. A positive customer experience can impact the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate by way of referrals.
How is customer experience different from customer service?
In most cases, a customer’s first point of contact is usually through interacting with a contractor or a member of his team. This provides an opportunity to deliver exceptional customer service.
However, customer service is only one aspect of the entire customer experience. The customer experience has changed – it’s more than person-to-person service, it’s about being proactive and attentive in order to strengthen customer relationships.
Oftentimes as contractors we put a majority of our focus on delivering a superior-quality product and inadequate effort towards a positive customer experience. This majority focus may be plausible for an aesthetically pleasing project such as a kitchen or bath remodel. In my industry of roofing, the roof is a very functional part of the home and not heavily weighted on aesthetics; therefore we place our focus on the process and a positive customer experience.
4 Ways To Create a Positive Customer Experience
1. Create a clear customer experience vision
The first step is to have a clear customer-focused vision that you can communicate with your team. Define this vision by creating a guiding set of principles.
The vision for my roofing company, CIG Construction, is delivering peace of mind. It is unlikely for our customers to set foot on top of their roof once completed. They rely on our expertise to provide them with the peace of mind that we have put on a roof that will stand the test of time.
Once the principles are in place, they will drive the behavior of your team.
2. Understand the homeowner perspective
Connect and empathize. Help the homeowner understand that a construction project is a process and not an off-the-shelf product. A homeowner may be naïve to the construction process. With a large investment at stake this can be a confusing and emotional time for them. As a contractor understand the level of trust they’ve place in you with perhaps their most valuable possession, their home.
By empathizing with the homeowner during the emotional roller coaster that is a construction project, create an emotional connection with your customer. Optimize for an emotional connection because your customer remembers how they feel during the process. Emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.
3. Manage expectations through communication
Guide the homeowner to understand the unique characteristics of a project. Educate the homeowner on the uncertainties during a construction project. Provide comfort by informing them that changes are a natural part of the process, with the expectation that those changes will impact budget and schedule. Change orders are a normal part of construction, but don’t wait until the end of the project to present a change order. Communicate in advance so there are no surprises. Homeowners can tolerate uncertainties along the way if expectations are managed.
4. Capture customer feedback in real time
How can you tell if you are delivering a positive customer experience?
You need to ask – inquire throughout the project, plant the seed that you strive for a 5-star review. If the customer experience is falling short mid-way through the project there is still time to adjust and deliver.
For construction contractors to scale a positive customer experience, they must break down the end-to-end experience, redesign and continuously improve upon them with the help of customer feedback.
Positive ROI with positive customer experience
Customer expectations are higher than ever and word of mouth travels fast. The customer is empowered by reviews and referrals, this increases the importance of a positive customer experience. From a revenue standpoint, value comes into play when you deliver on the customer experience and in return a satisfied and loyal customer pays dividends in the form of referrals and promotion. Thus with future customers the value proposition of a positive customer experience can make price less relevant.
Implementing a positive customer experience strategy can achieve higher customer satisfaction rates and increased revenues.