Would Being your Customer make me Happy?
As consumers, we all understand that the experience of buying from some brands is better than from others. We may find similar products at similar prices elsewhere, but some brands make the whole experience feel more like one we want to repeat.
In its simplest form this is what we mean by customer experience. It is the sum of everything involved in a commercial transaction that ultimately decides whether somebody will feel positively or negatively about your business.
It is more complex than customer satisfaction. On an individual project we might achieve customer satisfaction by delivering on time, on budget and to the agreed quality level. But what are we like to work with? Is it an experience our customers would be eager to repeat?
Across the construction sector what overall experience is being created within the industry?
It’s hard to make a case that everything is as it should be. If they were, why would we experience the following:
- Formal disputes at their highest level for years.
- Rising concerns over new build housing quality.
- Skills shortage becoming ever clearer.
- Contractors going bust and major construction firms struggling to make a profit.
A great customer experience stems from the quality and motivation of our staff. And yet statistics show that significant numbers are looking to leave the industry. High levels of stress, work related illness and even suicides do not create a platform for building exceptional customer experiences.
The key questions the industry needs to consider are:
- Are end users of our built environment unhappy because they have unreasonable expectations, or because they have reasonable expectations which are not met?
- Do contract disputes arise because customers want to avoid paying the full price, didn’t understand the contract, or because we didn’t deliver everything they expected, in the way they expected?
Across the construction sector we need to fix the customer experience so we can answer these questions as self-confident organisations. It’s a significant challenge but it’s one we can, and must, meet head-on.
Nick Sterling, Managing Director of Osborne Communities, will be presenting and discussing more about customer experience within the construction industry at the Pellings ‘What’s next for procurement’ seminar on 28th September.