Rick, the ever-professional salesperson, arrived at the model home at his usual time. He meticulously went room-by-room to turn on all the lights (taking time to replace a burned-out bulb). He made sure the bathrooms were in order, restocked the fridge with drinks and even threw some cookies in the oven. He still had time before official model hours so decided to check his email. His eyes were drawn to one from his Sales VP and his heart sank when he noticed it was related to a customer survey. Rick knew that could only mean one thing… another disgruntled customer with a chip on his shoulder.
Is this your approach to sharing your customer feedback with employees?
As home builders, we often adopt a “punchlist mentality” when it comes to addressing performance variances. Identify a problem. Create a plan. Implement it. Measure the results for conformance. Pretty straightforward.
Unfortunately, some take a similar approach when addressing customer feedback with employees. They primarily push completed surveys to the front lines when customers have expressed disappointment or when mistakes have been made. It definitely helps bring attention to problems to be addressed, but is far from the kind of balanced approach that motivates employees. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.
Employees that only see their "bad surveys" can quickly become desensitized and discouraged. They start to dread the next survey that shows up in their inbox and begin to question the value of your survey program altogether. It should come as no surprise when they become overly focused on their numeric scores and fail to objectively embrace their customers’ feedback as an opportunity to become a better salesperson, design studio consultant, construction supervisor or warranty representative. When the scenario devolves to your staff asking customers for good ratings on their soon-to-be-received survey, (such as the annoying practice of many car salespeople), you know the emphasis of your program is missing the mark.
Striving for balance by celebrating the positive
Builders that take a holistic approach to their customer surveys are frequently the most successful. Of course it's important to use negative customer feedback to identify ways to improve. But it's equally important to celebrate the positive things going on inside your organization from the customer’s perspective. Using your customer feedback as both “carrot” and “stick” will go a long way to elevate your program and improve the customer experience.
Public praise, private criticism
As a best practice, we would suggest a narrow handling of negative feedback and constructive criticism to the specific individuals involved. These are adults that need to take responsibility for their actions, not be publicly shamed. Conversely, whenever you receive positive customer feedback share it as broadly as possible throughout your organization. As the adage goes, praise publicly, criticize privately. Home building is a challenging profession and every win is hard-fought. Be sure to take time to recognize victories by widely celebrating memorable customer experiences as examples for all to follow.
Celebrate “wins” broadly with these tips for sharing positive customer feedback
The value of positive reinforcement cannot be underestimated to encourage the behaviors you want to instill throughout your team. Frequent reminders of the team's success and its progress towards goals (and customer experience KPIs like these) fosters organizational buy-in and is a strong motivator for everyone. Consider these idea-starters:
- Regularly distribute positive surveys throughout the organization to encourage behaviors you want to see, such as through an email addressed to “Company_All.”
- Display Customer Satisfaction Scoreboards in a prominent office location. Show key results by company, division, community and individual performers. These can be as simple as dry-erase whiteboards updated weekly or as sophisticated as flat-screen panels updated in real time.
- Report on customer satisfaction metrics in every leadership meeting, right along with Sales, Starts, Closings, etc.
- Print out physical copies of particularly positive surveys that praise individuals by name. Pass them among the leadership team for a personal note of congratulations and thanks and hand-deliver them to the appropriate staff.
- Host a recognition dinner for top performers. Establish thresholds for a few key metrics in each functional area (sales, design, construction, etc.). Celebrate the individuals and teams that hit their milestones with a recognition dinner hosted by the leadership team. You might even get some added benefit by inviting their significant other to the party.
Be strategic about your customer experience management program.
Your voice of the customer program provides a steady stream of feedback on your products, processes and people. Some of it is exceptional... some may not be so good... some is a bit of both... but, ALL of it is extremely valuable. If you’ve already invested in a robust customer survey program, you have a tremendous resource at your fingertips that you may be under-utilizing. At the Bokka Group we'll help you think strategically about getting the most impact from your customer surveys. And if you are in the process of evaluating your current customer survey platform or implementing a brand new voice of the customer program, we’d love to talk about your objectives and see if our BuilderCX platform might be a good fit.