What We’ve learned from Over 37 Years of Homebuyer Satisfaction Feedback
Since starting this consumer research company on my dining room table in 1984, I have gathered an incredible database of homebuyer satisfaction surveys from over 150 major builders.
These evaluations paint an unmistakable picture of homebuyer sentiment in every region of the country. The good, the bad, and the unsavory: buyers’ perceptions of their builder, the quality of their home, and the extraordinary middle-of-the-night attention provided by their customer service representative. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of individual stories from people who have just spent the most money they have ever spent in their lives.
Unsurprisingly, there are common threads that weave through these thousands of buyer evaluations. Here is a short list of some of the things we know about your buyers:
- Homebuyers like filling out evaluations. Many buyers—consciously or subconsciously—feel they have a stake in your business. They are disappointed when there are problems with their home because they really believed in you.
- Given the high degree of customization allowed in production homes, the buyer feels a little like you’re partners in the process. Buyers fill out our evaluations because they felt an obligation to this quasi-partnership. They are actually trying to help you do better in the next phase of the project.
- No one knows more than your buyers about your building process, the quality of your homes, the performance of your salespeople, the timeliness of your subcontractors, and the responsiveness of your service personnel. So, not only are buyers’ evaluation responses voluminous, but they are also accurate. The only real new-home experts are your buyers.
- A disappointing experience in one phase of the purchase process will not taint the buyers’ evaluation responses in other areas. Just because your lender screwed up badly does not mean the buyers’ anger will wash over the rest of the evaluation. Buyers discriminate. And a well-written evaluation helps them to make this discrimination.
- Typically, there is a striking degree of consistency between the perceptions of buyers in the same community and between buyers in different communities of the same builder division. The basic opinion of the buyer group comes through easily on these evaluations. It is rare to find a community with polarized opinions because the behavior of your staff and contractors tends to be consistent.
- Regional differences in homebuyer satisfaction not only exist, but are pronounced.
- Buyer satisfaction ratings, for example, tend to be highest in the west, which is surprising because buyer expectations also tend to be higher in the west. Referral rates, which are strongly related to the buyer profile, are apparently influenced by regional issues as well as buyer demographics.
Two issues consistently appear as the strongest influences on buyers’ willingness to refer their builder to a friend: 1) the buyers’ perception of the home’s quality and 2) the buyers’ satisfaction with service response time. Eliant has found that attention to service response time is one of the most cost-effective approaches to generating referrals.
Homebuyer’s satisfaction with quality and service, as well as buyers’ willingness to recommend their builder, have improved dramatically since we started conducting these surveys in 1984. Our builder clients have clearly revamped their companies to become more customer driven.
As the home building industry’s Customer Experience experts, we’re committed to providing you the necessary tools to deliver extraordinary experiences. Contact Christy Salmon at (949) 753-1077 ex. 57 or at Christy@Eliant.com for more information.
Eliant Inc. 27141 Aliso Creek Road, Ste. 290, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656