Tell me if this sounds familiar: Bob, the new COO, is preparing for his first meeting with the leadership team, poring over every number and report he can get his hands on. He specifically highlights the budget line item for customer surveys and in the course of the meeting asks his fellow leaders a simple question, "Why are we doing this?"
Depending on the size & maturity of the home builder, the answer to this question can vary. In fact, the amount of that line item can vary too.
For smaller builders (perhaps less than 50 homes/yr), customer satisfaction surveys could be so inexpensive and easy to deploy the issue never comes up. Jan, the admin, sends them out and Paul, the owner, handles each one as it comes in. Everything's great until they grow and realize the solution won't scale.
For medium to larger builders, a scalable survey solution can require a larger investment in time and resources. First, you'll need a platform that can handle the survey deployments and dashboard reports. Next, you need a person (or team of people) dedicated to reviewing the feedback and acting on it. This means Bob's line item on the budget can jump into the tens of thousands of dollars. Which brings us back to his original question.
Why should a builder be investing in customer surveys?
Research and years of experience with home builders of all sizes lead to the following reasons home builders should invest in customer surveys:
It Sells Homes
Measuring and implementing programs to improve the customer experience is an investment with bottom-line returns. A recent study of production builders showed that Referral Sales improved by an average of 30% within 4 years of introducing a customer survey program.
It Decreases Costs
The number of marketing channels to drive model home traffic continues to explode. More of them have accountability metrics to help you allocate assets, but the traffic that converts best in your model homes is what matters most. In my years as a home building marketer, our conversion rates were extremely consistent. A prospect not accompanied by a Realtor converted at a rate of 1:20 to 1:30, depending on location. Our conversion rate improved to 1:4 if a Realtor was involved. However, if the prospect was referred by family, friend, or colleague our closing ratio was 1:2. Prospects that are referred to you by past customers are pure gold.
It Increases Profit
It’s the day of walk-through and your customer identifies a few random nicks in their flooring. The construction manager agrees and assures the damage will be repaired in a way that everything will blend together seamlessly. If you've built a relationship of trust and demonstrated concern throughout their journey they will accept your recommendation and move-on. If you haven’t, they are likely going to assume your solution is the cheap way out that benefits you and not them. As a result they'll likely fight you on it, and demand you replace the entire floor.
It Maintains Reputation & Market Position
We frequently see builders with robust survey programs earn more than two-thirds of their sales based on their reputation and relationships with past customers.
The most frequent drivers of buyer first visits for those customer-centric builders were referrals, the builder’s reputation, a Realtor recommendation, or the buyer was a repeat customer. There is certainly some overlap, but the benefits of high customer satisfaction is clear and made all the more effective by a sound customer survey program like BuilderCX that allows you to proactively measure home buyer sentiment and identify key drivers of customer satisfaction at all major touchpoints in the customer journey.
It Decreases Risk
Down markets hit all builders hard but those with strong customer satisfaction rates weather the storm best. Rather than depending solely on market conditions to fill their sails, they have a broad base of highly satisfied customers singing their praises and evangelically referring family and friends whether the market is strong or soft.
It Motivates Employees
Life is easier when customers are happy. Whether you’re steering the ship or on the front lines, life is easier for you, the customer, and your company... and is totally within your control if you have a customer survey solution to gives you a clear view of the parts of your process that are bringing joy and confidence to buyers and which are at risk for intervention.
It's the right thing to do
Every builder website we've created or seen makes the similar promise of exceptionally designed homes, superior quality, and personal service. Your customers see and hear those messages repeated over-and-over when they visit your model homes and search you out in other online resources. It is only logical that they would expect you will live-up to your brand's promise, and we do too.
See for yourself.
Customer surveys are a sound investment with tangible returns for builders of all sizes. Whether you're running a company, division, or department, you need actionable data to help you improve the experience of your customers and generate higher levels of employee satisfaction. The industry's newest customer survey solution, BuilderCX powered by Qualtrics, packages the kinds of information you need with at-a-glance dashboards and easy-to-use reporting features that monitor every critical KPI. Just click here to see for yourself.