Americas Home Place Surveys Show One-On-One Customer Service Makes the Custom Home Building Project an Interactive Human Process
"A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it." - HL Mencken, American Journalist and Essayist
The decision to build a new custom home can be overwhelming for many people. For most people, the custom home building process forces them to explore a multitude of new and difficult decisions. How many rooms? How many bathrooms? One story or two. How many square feet? What type of doors and windows, decks and porches? The list seems endless.
It has been described as a roller coaster ride of equal parts great expectation, fears of falling short, financial concerns, design compromises and scary unknowns about the materials and processes. This hectic ride is usually set against a backdrop of the customer’s ideal plan for the house, a vision that transcends the material structure and treads upon the realm of the spiritual: The Dream Home, where lives are lived and shared and memories are made.
While the management of a customer’s emotional well-being during the buying and construction process seems intangible, surveys from Americas Home Place customers show that these important considerations can indeed be quantified.
Results of Americas Home Place 2011 Customer Surveys
Americas Home Place surveys buyers on their satisfaction with the overall process, the floor plans and features chosen and delivered, quality of materials, interaction with our corporate office and, for the subject of this article, special perceived obstacles that were resolved, their interactions with their primary sales representative and construction personnel, namely the dedicated building superintendent responsible for their home’s completion.
How Do Customers Learn About and Choose Americas Home Place?
In 93% of homes built reflected in the survey, customers discovered Americas Home Place through combinations of internet and traditional advertising. After visiting one of 50 building centers in the 12 states we serve, customers augmented their decision process by seeking out or having prior knowledge of a friend, relative or neighbor that built with Americas Home Place in the past. Surveys with comments on this subject were almost unanimous in their reasoning; to paraphrase: “A friend of mine built with Americas Home Place and I saw his house go up. The speed of the build was so fast, the construction was sound and solid and the price was reasonable.”
How Do I Build On My Own Land?
Special Buyer-Perceived Obstacles Solved by Americas Home Place
Building on one’s own land or lot has many advantages over subdivision home buying. Obvious financial advantages come into play; on the less tangible side, a person’s own land often reflects a desire to build on a special site that adds to the “vision” of the customized home they want. Land faces a certain view, catches the morning sun, is close to friends, neighbors, workplaces or the best schools.” Or it may be sentimental: “My father gave the property”, “My wife and I always liked this spot.” In such cases, only a custom home will do. Land or lot is part of the entire ideal of “building custom” as opposed to choosing a cookie-cutter house in a community or subdivision.
But building on a customer’s own land often presents challenges that the owner-buyer believes to be insoluble. A certain style of home may be easy and wonderful to imagine on a gentle slope surrounded by charter oaks, but how to get it there?
In about 75% of Americas Home Place custom builds, sales people and building superintendents were cited as the solution providers to these types of question. Comments included:
- “We weren’t sure how to layout the driveway to the house site.”
- “Other builders told us the lot was too narrow.”
- “There are old foundations (or structures on the land).”
- "We were told local variances were a problem.”
- “We know what type of house we want, but we don’t have land.”
- “We wanted to keep the trees and natural landscape as much as possible.”
- “Our land is in the mountains and seems difficult to develop.”
The Value of One-to-One Communications 1.0
Customer Interactions with Americas Home Place Sales Persons
Americas Home Place Customer Surveys outline five key factors that reflect the buyer’s level of satisfaction with the sales person assigned to their custom home project. For each one, customers assign a score of between 1, “Least Favorable” and 10, Most Favorable. Two important Yes/No Questions are also included. In our 2011 surveys, the categories and overall average scores were as follows:
|Timeliness of his or her response to your requests
|Accurate and complete communication
|The overall purchasing process
|Would you purchase another home from this sales person?
|Would you recommend this salesperson to a family member or friend?
Satisfaction factors include a place for buyers to append comments. Most customers wrote concise praise in the survey form. Following are a sampling of comments about the Americas Home Place sales person assigned to the customers’ home project:
- “Provided great ideas that we wouldn’t have considered.”
- “We always felt she was trying to really help us; not just wanting the sale.”
- “Not pushy at all.”
- “She was patient with and always answered our questions.”
- “He routinely went out of his way for us.”
- “He was thorough, knowledgeable and honest, even if we sometimes didn’t like the answers!”
- “(The salesperson) was a ‘straight-up guy.’ He was generous with his time and easy to talk to.”
- “She showed us what could be done to customize our home the way we wanted it.”
- “He was our advocate for getting us the house we wanted, not just trying to sell us something.”
- “He worked with our budget to get us what we wanted, without trying to sell us more.”
The Value of One-to-One Communications 2.0
Customer Interactions with Americas Home Place Dedicated Building Superintendents
Americas Home Place Customer Surveys also address seven key factors that reflect the buyer’s level of satisfaction with the dedicated building superintendent assigned to their custom home project once the project has begun. As with the sales person scoring above, customers assign a score of between 1, “Least Favorable” and 10, Most Favorable to each Satisfaction Factor. Again, two critical Yes/No Questions are also included. In our 2011 surveys, the categories and overall average scores for the quality of customer interaction with their building superintendent were as follows:
|Timeliness of response to your requests
|Accuracy and completeness communications
|Timeliness of completion of correction list at time of delivery
|Rating of overall construction process
|Helpfulness of construction office staff
|Would you want this superintendent to build another home?
|Would you recommend this superintendent to a family member or friend?
As with the salesperson portion of the survey, Satisfaction Factors for dedicated building superintendents included an area for buyers to add their own comments. Most customers wrote concise praise in the survey form. But in many cases, customers took the initiative to attach letters to the physical survey, praising their building superintendents and the construction team assigned to their custom home build. Here is an example of one such letter:
Following are a sampling of survey comments about the Americas Home Place dedicated building superintendents assigned to the customers’ home project:
- “Our building superintendent was helpful, kind, quick to respond to our questions.”
- “He did ALL that he could do and more.”
- “He cares about home construction like a sculptor cares about a piece of art.”
- “Thanks to him, the project went better than we imagined was possible.”
- “His involvement in our home construction was very hands-on.”
- “He wanted everything done right the first time.”
- “He educated us about better ways to customize our house than we imagined!”
- “He would return calls about any issue and impressed us as honest and trustworthy.”
- “He demonstrated sensitivity and a full understanding of what we needed to customize the home for our disabled daughter in wheelchair.”
- “He did everything he said they would do, on budget, on time and at quality and speed that was better than expected.”
Conclusion: Custom Home Building Project is an Interactive Human Process
Americas Home Place utilizes an original point-by-point building process that has evolved over the years and has been copied by many other builders. But a checklist of material application and action items is to be expected from any custom home builder. As our surveys and feedback show, customers are moved to express absolute satisfaction when the process also considers the customer as people with feelings, concerns, hopes, dreams and expectations. Honesty, respect and advocacy for the customer, in what is probably the biggest project of their lives, translate to a level of satisfaction that cannot be emulated.