Construction can win or lose in the most customer-facing phase

With much focus on building customer confidence back into the construction industry, it’s important to look at where some of the most critical touchpoints are for customers, and what their expectations are today.

The sheen and polish of a finished product – the new apartment, glossy floors and high expectations, are the critical customer-facing touchpoint, and the start of either an exceptional customer experience, or a disappointing one.

Customer experience is one of the hot buzz phrases in business these days. Companies are investing more than ever before into building a strong customer experience. And in construction, where margins are tighter than ever – many expect to soon compete on experience more than price or quality.

And that’s a winning approach, well documented in many sectors. Research shows the companies that invest in customer experience boast a higher stock price. In fact, according to Boston Consulting Group, companies with better customer satisfaction scores, drive better earnings and shareholder value. Globally, the top 20% of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index – achieved higher stock price growth and higher total returns than a similar portfolio of companies drawn from the bottom 20% of brands.

There’s a bottom line benefit to companies taking customer experience seriously.

But what about customer service, and what is the difference between customer service and customer care?

In reality, there’s a lot of blend here – a lot of ways to care for and interact with customers. But these three concepts don’t mean the same thing, so we need to shift our thinking here, towards customer care.

Customer service is the advice or assistance a company gives its customers.

The goal of customer service is to increase customer satisfaction, and it usually comes by answering questions. Customer service could be helping a customer choose the right product before they make a purchase, but it most often comes after a purchase has been made. Customer service is the premise of simply providing assistance to customers, trouble-shooting any issues, and ensuring they have a great buying experience.

Customer care is how well customers are taken care of while they interact with your brand.

A term used less often, but in construction, it has become the cornerstone catch phrase, and team identity: Customer Care.

This is all about how well customers are taken care of while they interact with the brand. It goes beyond the protocols of servicing a customer.

Customer care means actually caring for customers, having a relationship with them, listening to their needs, and finding the right solution. In many instances, customer care moves one step beyond basic customer service by building an emotional connection.

Customer experience is the total journey of a customer’s interactions with a brand.

Customer experience is the sum of all contact, from first discovering and researching to shopping around and purchasing, to the numerous post sale experiences.

It’s the reason that everyone should be involved in the customer experience, not just a single department.

A major difference with customer service is that the customer service is reactive and often is only used when a customer isn’t satisfied. If a customer has an issue with a product or service, that is typically the only time they would contact customer service.

Customer experience, on the other hand, is proactive and aims to reach every customer. The goal of customer experience in many cases is to avoid customers having to contact customer service. While customer service may only be a one-time interaction, customer experience is a holistic approach that aims to stay with the customer every time they think of the company.

Customer Care is the holy grail for reputation and growth

Customer care is the most difficult of the three terms to define, but most people consider it a longer-term approach to taking care of a customer. It doesn’t include the entire customer lifecycle like customer experience does, but it moves beyond just a single interaction to include perhaps a string of interactions.

That’s why it’s the domain of teams looking after customers in the critical customer experience phase of handover.

This isn’t to say that companies should ignore customer service or customer care in favour of customer experience. No matter how hard a brand tries, not every customer will be completely satisfied, so there is always a need for customer service and customer care. All three elements work together to build a satisfied customer base that is loyal to the brand and will recommend to others or become a return customer.

Customer experience is more than just a buzzword—it should be at the heart of everything a company does. By including customer service and customer care, brands can exceed expectations and delight customers.

Will Handover Make or Break Your Business Model?

The lengthy, multi-year handover phase in construction, is a true test of a company’s ability to truly care for their customer.

In our recent CFO Cost Benefit Analysis Study, we uncovered the fact that during the course of the DLP, an average of 12% of senior management time was spent ‘stepping in’ and oftentimes, over top of Customer Care teams, to mediate poor communication, outcomes, or delays. Simply put, a poor customer experience requires intervention from the top.

One extreme example from this study revealed a Managing Director of a top tier company playing point on a remediation project due to a poor customer experience from his team below him.

Not only is this bad for customer experience, but it’s catastrophic for profit and it takes senior management eyes ‘off the ball’ of future growth.

Our Financial Model comparison shows that based on the average construction profit of 4%, using a customer-centric system like DLP Manager boosted profit by an impressive 23%, versus the traditional, and often poorly run defects management process.

If these three customer approaches / concepts all sound similar, it’s because they all contribute to a company delivering on its promises and building loyal, satisfied customers.

Customer experience is the overarching sum of all interactions, and customer service and customer care are pieces of that puzzle.

The completion phase is your chance to shine with Customer Care. So make it the highlight of your business – and win customers, build your reputation and your bottom line, all at the same time.

Contact us to discuss your needs, and to receive a copy of the CFO Cost Benefit Analysis Study.