One of the biggest causes of complaints in the building industry is miscommunication – and at the essence you’ll find expectations. When coming to an agreement over something as major as building a house, it is important all parties involved have a clear understanding of what has been agreed upon and what is and is not acceptable. These factors will contribute to each individual’s expectations. If communication is not clear, then it is only natural the expectations may not be aligned with what will be delivered, ultimately resulting in an unsatisfied customer – which is exactly what every builder wants to avoid.
How can you effectively manage customer expectations? We’ve compiled a list of our top tips to ensuring you and your customer are on the same page:
1. Be transparent!
This is our absolute number one tip to help manage expectations! Be honest about yourself, your business and its ability. If a client is coming to you for something you would never be able to deliver, there is no point in pretending you can for the sake of a sale – it will always result in conflict. Be clear about your processes and procedures from an early stage so a customer can truly make an informed decision if you’re the right person for their job. Remember, building a house is a huge investment – both monetary and emotionally – so it is only natural a client will be particular about who they select.
2. Make realistic promises
It’s easy to promise the world to a client, but to actually deliver it is a whole other story. There is no point in promising a home can be completed within 16 weeks when you’re about to head into winter and there’s every chance you will get washed out by rain. Be realistic from the early stages about each part of the build including costs and timeframes. It is always better to under promise and over deliver!
3. Set the parameters early
While you are about to help a client embark on one of the most important journeys of their life, keep in mind you are still a business providing a service, and thus will still need to set parameters around what is expected. This will come down to the little things like how you expect to be treated throughout the process of the build, hours you are contactable (nobody wants a phone call at 9pm on a Saturday but it does happen), how frequently the client can visit their site (and how they must be accompanied by the builder or supervisor) etc. Again, a clear understanding from the get-go will remove a lot of little issues further down the track.
4. Provide clear timelines!
There’s no hiding timeframes can be a real challenge in the building industry because there are so many outside factors, such as councils, developers, weather conditions etc. You should be upfront about these challenges – if you do experience any – in the early stages. From there, be clear about how you anticipate the build to progress over time, and most importantly, keep your client informed! As a client, it’s always nice to receive little updates such as ‘your bricks were laid today’ rather than having to chase up the builder.
5. CLEAR COMMUNICATION
This is the single, most important thing in your business. It is absolutely vital you keep communication streams open between yourself and all your clients. From ensuring they understand everything before signing the contract, to provide an outlet for feedback or a contact if any issues arise, communication is critical. You should aim to provide each customer with a weekly or fortnightly update. If there has not been any progress over this time, explain why. You’ll find your customers will be a lot more understanding if you keep them informed rather than just let time pass by.
These simple steps can help reduce customer dissatisfaction in your business and hopefully make your processes a lot easier.
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