Construction Needs to Wake Up to Customer Experience

Some brands such as John Lewis and Amazon thrive because their customer experience is simple, seamless and satisfying. In many sectors beyond retail, from IT to telecoms to transport, customer experience is becoming the key differentiator. But what about in construction?
A construction business might not think of itself as a service provider in the same way as John Lewis or Amazon. But I would argue that customer experience as a disruptor and a differentiator is already at work in our industry – and it’s about to become even more significant.

The case for change in the construction industry is indisputable. Otherwise, why would 459 contractors have gone bust in the first quarter of 2017?

We are under unprecedented pressure to deliver better value in the face of diminishing budgets. Productivity needs to improve, both through technical innovation and through collaboration.

The confrontational relationships built through mutual suspicion are holding everyone back – customers and contractors. Because we don’t trust each other we don’t communicate openly, we don’t share problems, and we don’t share the benefits of innovation and success.

Building a different customer experience has to come from people – making sure they are motivated and dedicated to meeting customer needs. Yet our workforce is dissatisfied and under stress. These human factors will inevitably spill over into the sort of customer experience that people are increasingly unwilling to accept. We have to act now to fix this.

Brands from sectors as diverse as retail, insurance and pension funds are coming into our industry. These businesses are built on their customer experience and will, no doubt, see opportunities to make greater inroads unless we change.

We need to make UK construction great again. It must regain its position as a great place to build a successful and rewarding career. To do this we all have a part to play:

  • Customers need to learn to trust more, avoid over-complicating contracts, and reinstate procurement as a strategic activity.
  • Contractors need to invest more in the wellbeing and motivation of our workforce.
  • Consultants need to set the tone for open collaboration and aligned project objectives.

We need to act together, to demand more from ourselves and to challenge old mentalities and approaches. I believe we can learn from the best and build a new construction sector, one that sheds the old stereotypes and is seen as an exemplar for customer experience.