Satisfied Customers Can Help Build Your Brand and Business
Using tips and techniques common to big business, builders and developers are beginning to realize the benefits of improving customer service and creating a name brand.
Branding is essentially the practice of building a familiarity and trust between a company and its customers. It’s usually used as a way to reinforce relationships after a company has already established a core clientele. Branding takes the “Who’s that?” and “What do they do?” out of the minds of the general public.
To gain the customers’ trust and build relationships that will bolster business, companies should concentrate on improving customer satisfaction. As you know, customers’ opinions are integral to success in the building industry — where word-of-mouth advertising can be more effective than print ads.
Customers Help Shape Your Company’s Reputation
Whether you intend them to or not, the average customer can play a large part in shaping your company’s reputation — good or bad.
Disgruntled customers can cause potential harm. Studies have shown that people who have had an unpleasant experience will tell as many as 20 of their closest friends, relatives and associates. The key is to minimize their bad experiences and reinforce the satisfying ones. Conducting customer surveys is one approach to begin eliminating the negative and accentuating the positive.
Customer Surveys Can Help Determine Where You Need to Improve
Customers’ home building experiences can reveal a wealth of information for the builder who knows how and where to look for it. Builders can use customer feedback from these surveys to help determine where they need to improve and where they can excel.
Several companies offer objective, third-party surveying services to builders, contractors and developers. Some companies even offer peer-group comparisons so builders can see how they measure up to other builders in their respective peer groups.
Surveys Can Lead to Increased Customer Satisfaction
Data from an objective, third-party survey can give builders additional insight into their businesses. With this new information, they can then offer services that match desires of their customers that they may not have known about previously. And of course, using these methods to work on problems and create higher levels of customer satisfaction can help maximize profits.
Your Competition Is Out There
Not too long ago, home buyers would average about seven years between home purchases. Today, that average is five years. What’s more, many more people have entered the market and building activity has been remarkably high for several years.
In fact, according to year-end Commerce Department figures, sales of new single-family homes hit a record 1.183 million in 2004. That represents a tremendous number of homes built and sold, but also a tremendous number of builders and contractors. In order to succeed, you’ve got to differentiate your company and products from your competition.
Build a Recognizable Name So You Can Separate Yourself From the Crowd
One sure-fire way to set yourself apart is to offer superior customer satisfaction. Companies with superior customer satisfaction and service ratings have successfully used them as a marketing and sales tool to attract more business — and have charged a premium for their services.
Service and satisfaction is part of the reason many of us are willing to pay more than $5 for a cup of coffee from Starbucks when we can get the same thing for much cheaper at a gas station.
Positive name recognition is another way to stand above the crowd and attract even more customers. When they hear your company’s name, you want customers to think that you’re not just building them a house; you want them to think that you’re giving them the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of at a reasonable price.
To build your brand, begin by creating a consistent message and then ensure that your customers’ experiences match that message. Like Nike and Starbucks, you want customers to know who you are and what you do.
Of course, big corporations like that rely on consultants and customer service specialists to put systems in place that dispel customer complaints before they even occur. Advertising specialists also help them create memorable tag lines and eye-catching logos.
Strategies That Work for Building Your Brand
Builders don’t have to — and probably can’t afford to ― spend as much money as big corporations do on brand building. However, builders can use some of the same strategies other industries use. For example:
Gather feedback to learn what customers are thinking and telling their friends about you.
Use Internet sources and industry publications to advertise your company.
Create a user-friendly Web site that clearly lets customers know what your company does and how you can easily be reached.
Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Know where your competition is building, what their price points are and how many projects they intend to complete this year. Then figure out if are they lagging in areas where you may be able to pick up their slack.
Use all of these avenues to create a company image that will draw customers to you. Remember, also, to consistently show your customers you are doing what you say you can do. Successfully branded companies don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Erin Rosintoski is a membership sales executive with GuildQuality Inc., an Atlanta-based organization that uses customer satisfaction and loyalty surveying to measure, benchmark and improve business performance. For information, e-mail Rosintoski, call her at 888-355-9223 x22 or visit the GuildQuality Web site.
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