Customer Lifecycle :
8. Customer care
In our series on the new build property development customer life cycle, we look at the impact of digital and how technology is changing the customer buying experience. We break down the customer journey and describe each step and how it may be supported using technology whether it is acquired or developed.
Table of Contents
One of the key areas that affects a developers reputation is handling of defects or snags. The volume of snagging issues varies greatly between developers and this is not always an indicator for poor quality as the issue can be related also to poor handovers or misunderstanding on the owners part. Developers also have to separate issues that are covered by warranty and those that are the responsibility of the developer during their “snagging period”. From a home owners perspective the first port of call is always the developer.
As highlighted, not all support calls require a fix and generally these are enquiries to issues that could be resolved by information that should be easily accessible in the owners handover information pack. There can also be issues that are not really the responsibility of the developer for example resetting an oven timer or alarm after a power cut.
The key to reducing these calls is not just digitising this information but also centralising it in one place and making it ALL searchable just like you would on google. Providing a powerful search capability is essential to reducing calls. Another advantage to having a digital handover is that information should be accessible anywhere, so if an issue occurs and the owner isn’t at home, they can still access information from their phone or any other device wherever they are.
Managing snags for a developer can be an onerous task and present a number of challenges:
- Answering calls and keeping track of progress of all issues across all properties.
- Juggling spreadsheets and emails and calls.
- Scheduling repairs efficiently, for example, sending a plumber out to fix all plumbing issues in a day rather than ad-hoc per property.
- Tracking costs.
- Identifying poor materials / workmanship patterns to avoid repeating in future developments.
Some developers have started using cloud based solutions like ClixiFix or FixFlo, and some have developed their own. Either way, moving to an automated solution is far better and more efficient for developers than a manual or spreadsheet based approach.
Again developers need to consider the communication channels provided for support. They could be a mix of:
- Messaging / chat
- Issue Management / Snag Platforms
Whilst it is important to manage the customer relationship during this period, it will be far more efficient for owners to be able to report / log calls themselves especially if there are many.
One of the key challenges with telephone calls is keeping track of conversations and that is why an automated process is much easier. Not only can conversations be tracked, they can be split into separate issues and tracked individually.
The same is true with emails and whilst it is possible to try and retain a conversation history, it is difficult to separate individual issues.
Therefore, even just providing an issue reporting capability to manage conversations about separate issues is beneficial to developers. Of course larger volume developers will benefit from more comprehensive features such as reporting and workload/workflow management.
“The key to reducing these calls is not just digitising this information but also centralising it in one place and making it ALL searchable just like you would on google.“
Whilst two thirds of new home buyers are satisfied, there are still a third that are not and their main complaints arise from quality issues. The New Homes Ombudsman has outlined its key proposals to improve the quality of developments. Part of these proposals includes regulations to allow owners to appoint and use a professional snag management company and to provide an independent body through which complaints can be raised. Hence separately to snags, developers will most likely need to have a complaints handling system to help manage and report on complaints raised. This is likely to be similar to the strict processes that banks have to follow for the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
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