Midas Homes’ zero-tolerance of defects and its personal touch gave it the edge over strong rivals to win this Rationel Windows UK-sponsored award
Customer service has not always been the strong suit of housebuilders, so the judges were encouraged by the strength of these entrants. The winner, Midas, just had the edge thanks to the lengths to which it goes to drive out defects, and its success in doing just that. The judges particularly liked the firm’s “excellent close monitoring” and its mastery of the “personal touch” – from providing champagne on moving day to a courtesy telephone call within two weeks of handover. It also has a 24-hour service to deal with leaks and power loss, and offers a personal visit from a member of the senior management within eight weeks of taking up residence. The statistics bear this out: 93% of Midas’ customers said they would recommend the housebuilder to their best friend.
This outfit was a close runner-up the top prize – the judges said they “agonised” over whether or not give it first prize. Bowey is a smallish firm, with a smallish firm's closeness to the customer. The judges particularly liked Bowey's 12 points of contact system, which includes a customer care co-ordinator, who stays with the customer for two years, and the “buddy director” that the customer can get hold of if they want to talk to somebody from senior management.
Mansell made it on to the shortlist because of its well-organised system for dealing with defects. What the customer sees is a single point of contact, provided by a customer liaison officer. But behind that individual is a single streamlined IT system based on the Lotus Notes software suite. This ensures that the housebuilder and its subcontractors act as a team, offers a standardised service and even generates detailed reports for later analysis.
This firm really understands the psychology of the customer and of the buying process. It knows that during the buying process, the client’s emotions are high and their ability to retain information is low. It also understands that homebuyers often feel neglected after contracts have been exchanged. So, Miller deals with buyers by inviting them to five separate meetings, and offers them a set of "your comment" postcards. Add Miller’s exhaustive quality checking system and it’s easy to see why the firm is on this list.
Try employs an external consultancy, In-House Research, to tell it the truth about its customer service performance. Fortunately, most of the news has been good: the number of customers describing themselves as "very satisfied" has increased from 15% in 2002 to 22% in 2003 and 40% in 2004. Another 46% described themselves as "satisfied". To back up its sales service, Try does its level best to prevent complaints arising in the first place: more than 1000 checks are made on each plot before the customer moves in.
United House tackles housing refurbishment, mostly implementing the decent homes standard. It operates a customer satisfaction measuring system based on the Housing Forum’s national customer survey. The results are analysed and reported at each project’s monthly meeting and later examined by United House’s board. This allows the company to streamline its complaints procedure, to better prepare residents for the disruption of having a new bathroom or kitchen installed and to identify systematic defects.
The Building Communties awards 2005
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Customer service team of the year: Winner midas homes