Customer satisfaction surveys are a hot topic for home builders these days. For most of our builder partners, customer satisfaction and customer experience (CX) are a top priority. Leading builders rely heavily on such experience management programs to get an unfiltered perspective on performance across all aspects of the customer experience. It's important to embrace customer feedback to better understand the customer journey and make operational improvements. Builders that stand out as CX leaders are just as committed to measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction as they are their monthly sales, starts and closings.
I recently got the following question from a regional builder in Phoenix: "Should I build and manage my survey program in-house?"
Saving money was the primary motivation, which makes sense. But it seemed the company was not getting the kind of feedback they hoped for, and were ready to pull the plug rather than engage in the hard work of creating the best possible experience for their customer.
My advice is that for a builder of his size (just under 500 homes/yr), it's not a good idea to manage the program in-house. For the smaller builders, say under 150 homes, it could make sense (if there's a person dedicated to the initiative). Otherwise it's a recipe for failure. Here's why.
There are a few reasons why this builder should not try to build/administer the survey program themselves:
It takes extreme discipline to manage a comprehensive survey program.
For example, if you have 480 closings every year, that means you'll be reaching out to about 40 customers every month with surveys. Some will respond to your first contact but many will require multiple reminders, emails and texts. We've been doing this a long time and know that it takes a complex system of touch-points and have a team of professionals dedicated to managing and monitoring that process every single day.
Delegating your survey program to an administrative assistant or anyone else on your team that already has a full plate is a recipe for disaster. Their "real job" will always come first and the risk is that your entire voice of the customer program will be pushed to the back-burner.
The level of your customer feedback will be less robust.
It will be challenging to replicate a comprehensive survey program that asks the number of questions needed to give a well-rounded perspective of the customer experience and your team’s performance. And it will be almost impossible for you to implement an in-process survey model like BuilderCX that solicits feedback after customers have completed each phase of your process.
Most in-house solutions default to a SurveyMonkey-like product that has limitations in what is captured and how data can be manipulated and displayed. You will be collecting fewer data points, be able to draw fewer correlations and have less customer intelligence on what is working well, what isn’t and where to focus your attention.
Customer ratings and comments will overstate actual performance.
When customers give feedback directly to their builder face-to-face or through a brief survey card at the closing table, many will frequently sugar-coat their actual experience and tell you what you want to hear. Your most difficult customers are the exception, shouting from the rooftops with megaphone in hand to anyone who will listen. But your lukewarm customers that are somewhere in the middle are actually a little more dangerous as they are less inclined to rock the boat and give you their brutally honest opinions.
We consistently see this scenario play out with home builders that administer their own surveys at the closing table when customers are at a high point of their emotional experience and actually believe your promises to resolve every punch-list item in the next three weeks. Our initial studies for those builders typically report Willingness to Refer 20-points lower than what they expected and similarly lower results for the feedback they were getting on the performance of their Salespeople and Superintendents as individuals and teams.
So if you're a builder considering a DIY customer survey program, be sure to keep these things in mind.
Home buyers are very willing to take our surveys. It's not a $50 pair of shoes they're buying. It's a huge purchase that they're emotionally invested in. As builders, we're in a unique position here. But with power comes responsibility. We don't want to abuse this survey power by asking the wrong questions at the wrong time. Or worse, collecting feedback that we don't act upon. That contributes to survey fatigue (which we all have these days) and makes our customers trust us even less. Before you build your survey program, be sure you're using your power wisely.
BuilderCX - The Industry’s Premier Survey Program for Builders
BuilderCX is an industry-leading customer survey platform designed specifically for builders. Using brief Pulse Surveys at every phase of the customer journey, builders receive detailed customer feedback in real-time, along with alerts and action plans throughout the entire customer experience customized to your unique processes, products and people.