What Builders Should Know About Customer Satisfaction
Paula Sonkin, the executive director of the Real Estate Industries Practice at J.D. Power and Associates, will give the keynote address at Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, May 16-18 in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Sonkin, an expert on customer satisfaction studies, will discuss “The Mystique of Creating the Satisfied Customer” and how customer satisfaction relates to the active adult market.
As a preview of her address, NAHB’s Seniors Housing Council asked Sonkin what builders need to know about customer satisfaction in the over-50 market.
NAHB: J.D. Power is known for its customer satisfaction surveys. How can a customer satisfaction survey help a builder be more successful and create satisfied customers?
Sonkin: Customer satisfaction can impact your business on many levels, including referrals, pricing leverage, repeat business, loyalty, increased market share, stock prices, sales and employee satisfaction. By understanding what motivates and satisfies your consumers, you can determine what, if any, changes you need to implement to better meet their needs ― and increase your business.
NAHB: What are some of the common myths that builders have about customer satisfaction, especially relating to mature consumers (55-plus)?
Sonkin: One common myth among builders is that active adult consumers have higher expectations and are harder to satisfy. Because many builders believe this myth, they spend much more time than they should focusing on dissatisfied customers — trying to move them to the satisfied side.
Builders shouldn’t get caught up focusing only on the unhappy customers. (Those are the ones who tend to do a lot of screaming.) As a builder, you should focus on the middle consumers, too — the consumers who are somewhat satisfied ― and determine what you can do to make them extremely satisfied.
Don’t ignore the very unhappy customers, but don’t base your entire customer satisfaction program on satisfying them either.
NAHB: J.D. Power recently conducted the J.D. Power Home Builder Survey. What key finding can you glean from it for those of us in the active adult industry?
Sonkin: Amenities, location and design are important in gaining active adult consumers and driving them to a particular builder. But once they have bought your product, they measure satisfaction the same way other consumers do. The drivers of customer satisfaction during construction and after they have moved in are no different for active adult consumers than they are for other new home buyers.
NAHB: What are some of the biggest mistakes builders make when dealing with their active adult and older consumers?
Sonkin: One of the biggest mistakes among builders in this market is that they make assumptions about their active adult consumers’ preferences, motivations and satisfaction. This is a relatively new market segment for many builders and many builders might not yet understand their consumers. So don’t assume. Determine and understand.
NAHB: How can a builder develop a customer service initiative that works?
Sonkin: Builders should address expectations from the customer’s point of view. This is a key element to satisfying customers, obtaining referrals and building your long-term brand.
Paula Sonkin has more than 25 years of experience with both the supplier and client sides of marketing research. Prior to joining J.D. Power and Associates, she was manager of consumer market research at The Disney Channel, served as a marketing research consultant for McKesson Water Products, Inc. and Asher/Gould Advertising, and managed the market research and sensory evaluation departments for Lawry’s Foods Inc.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Do you want to learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market? Attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005 on May 16-18 in the Washington, D.C. area. The seniors housing symposium is the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals who serve the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
Learn More About Seniors Housing Through the Seniors Housing Council
To learn more about seniors housing, join the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. The council provides information, education, networking and recognition opportunities for its members and represents NAHB on seniors housing issues. For more details, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.
‘The House that Service Built’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“The House that Service Built,” available through BuilderBooks.com, presents the steps and concepts you need to establish an effective service-oriented culture. From staff to vendors and trade contractors, make customer satisfaction a priority in order for your company to retain loyalty and increase referrals. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665
Subscribe Your Employees to Nation’s Building News — and Earn a Chance to Win Digital Camera
Subscribe your employees to Nation’s Building News Online. It’s free, easy and NAHB members who sign up three or more employees will be entered into the "Make Your Business Click" contest to win a digital camera. To learn more or sign up your employees, click here.