New Home Sales

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From Customer Satisfaction to Delight: The Journey to +95% Avid Customer Service Scores

By Sandy Rogers 6 min read

Many people confuse customer satisfaction with customer delight. While satisfaction might sound like a positive term, delight takes it one step further in going beyond what a customer expects, creating a sticky and lasting memorable experience. A satisfying home buying experience is often described as “good enough,” “what I expected,” or “I’ll tell people about it, but only if they ask,” whereas a delightful experience is often “awesome,” “beyond my expectations,” or a personal favorite, “can’t wait to brag about it.”

At New Home Star, we’re passionate about shifting all new home buying experiences from satisfactory to delightful. This commitment to excellence led us to partner with Avid back in 2017, a company that conducts surveys on the total home buying experience, to track our progress with customers, gain an understanding of the buyer’s experience, and learn how we could improve. As a result, all of our teams have made great progress leveraging Avid for feedback. However one team, in particular, is worth highlighting: the Hayden Homes Oregon I-5 sales team. Over the course of five years, they’ve gone from an 80.6% average score to a 95% score in 2021 — a percentage they’re incredibly proud to share, especially given the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last ~two years and what those changes have meant for the industry. 

Hayden Homes Oregon I-5 Sales Team

Time Period Average Score
Jan - Dec 2017 80.6%
Jan - Dec 2018 86.1%
Jan - Dec 2019 94.4%
Jan - Dec 2020 93.5%
Jan - Dec 2021 95.0%

 

More home builders across the country are starting to view a delightful experience as no longer a “nice-to-have,” but more as a must-have as delighted customers significantly impact both builder and new home sales company reputations and influence referral business. How did the I-5 sales team jump 15 percentage points in the course of just a few years? Let’s dive into a few of their best practices!

Gather and Examine the Feedback

If you don’t know what’s broken, you can’t fix it. Before you remedy anything, you first need to determine what your customers really think of your service and collect all the facts — good, bad, or otherwise. Without real customer feedback, you’ll always be guessing. You can conduct this examination through surveys (like the Avid survey) or customer focus groups.

A few common questions we like to ask customers about how our sales agents are performing:

  • Did they clearly explain the buying process?
  • Did they respond quickly to calls and questions?
  • Did they provide accurate answers?
  • Were they knowledgeable about the building process?
  • Did they make the buying process pleasant?
  • Were they knowledgeable about options?
  • Were they responsive to your needs and budget?

Once you gather the data from customers, consider digging even deeper into situational data. What could have influenced this customer feedback? What personality types and hot buttons do these customers have that might have influenced this reaction and feedback? Leave no stone unturned in your pursuit to uncover what’s actually most important for customers and their perception of how well the sales agents they worked with performed.

Take Close Note of Customer Tone (Written or Spoken)

As you gather this feedback, take close note of the tone. You can learn a lot by paying attention to the words and phrases customers use in describing their process with your company. 

Here are a few examples of testimonials we believe showcase a “delightful” experience:

“Both my husband and I really want to give a shoutout to Jeff, Brian, James, and Justin. These men are the best at what they do for the homeowners in Delta Estates.” 

“All the Hayden Homes people I had contact with were friendly, courteous, competent, and professional. Having been in International Heavy Equipment sales for 48 years, I learned the best salesman in the world has difficulty selling an inferior product or service a second time – service sells!”

“You all have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and we cannot thank you enough for everything! You and Hayden Homes have exceeded our expectations, and if you ever need us to speak to a prospective buyer and share our extremely positive experience, we would be happy to do so. Thanks so much!”

Notice the words and phrases used — “best at what they do,” “professional,” “above and beyond the call of duty.” If you hear these words, know you’re on the right track. If the language is vague and doesn’t include any of these positive words, you might have some work to do to improve.

Run Tests, Then Diagnose 

If you notice an issue after examination, pause and ask a couple of questions: do you have the right people on board to create the most exceptional customer experience at every step? If you need to share guidance with them on performance, are they making excuses and getting defensive, or are they grateful for the feedback? 

If the former, don’t be afraid to reconsider their position on the team. If you have team members who aren’t grateful for the position they have been entrusted with, they are likely to negatively impact the group attitude and bring down the performance of others. After all, attitudes can have a trickle-down effect on sales teams. Just as one upbeat, confident seller can empower others with positive energy, consistent lackluster performance by another can hinder progress.

After addressing individual performance issues, develop a strategic plan for your entire team. This means preparing training content driven by your findings and should consist of tailored content that reflects what you’re hearing from customers. 

Prescribe and Implement

Strong training programs for agents can take on many forms. At New Home Star, we like to utilize role-playing as a way for more experienced sales agents to help newer team members through specific situations. We also encourage teammates to consistently share what’s working with each other and peer coach. Recently, we had a sales agent share the power of customer video updates with the rest of the team. He said he received very positive feedback from customers and that it created a stronger human connection than a text message or email update. Now, many of our sales agents utilize video updates to build better customer relationships. Encourage your team to consistently share useful tips and information with one another during group meetings, training, and even casually in day-to-day conversation.

Engaging builders and encouraging their participation in customer success is also part of the implementation process. Builders can play an important role in providing their buyers with important construction updates while sharing their perspectives when it’s worthwhile to have another opinion. It’s crucial that builders play a key role in the coaching stage and participate when necessary to ensure every party is aligned on processes for securing customer delight at every phase.

Put a Plan in Place for Continued Care

Exhibiting care for your team by ensuring everyone remains motivated for consistent improvement can go a long way. Also, it’s beneficial to share an ongoing survey (such as the Avid survey) that enables customers to provide feedback on sales agents and the home buying process. If you automatically schedule it for monthly or bi-monthly, you don’t have to think about when the next one will go out, and you can receive enough feedback to help your team improve quickly. 

It’s important to also create an environment of solution-oriented discussions with your team and share best practices during every team meeting. What’s working now that didn’t work before? What new technology have you tested that has led to better results? What’s an example of the best customer reaction you’ve received in the past XX days, and what do you think contributed to the positive reaction?

We like to say that (commitment + teamwork) x action = results — and that’s exactly the equation the Hayden Homes I-5 sales team followed to achieve outstanding results. It’s certainly worth giving the effort to make customer delight a reality. Not only will your team experience more professional fulfillment knowing they’ve delivered a positive experience, but both buyers and builders will also share in that fulfillment. The power of relationships and customer referrals can go a long way, and the more delightful the experience you create, the more your customers will want to spread the word about their journey.

Originally published Sep 29, 2021 5:28:11 PM under New Home Sales, updated September 30, 2021

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