Mick Jagger reportedly was not satisfied with the song that would become one of the Rolling Stones greatest hits: Satisfaction. “Driving in his car and a man comes on the radio telling him how white his shirts could be” . . . maybe Mick had a point. But it succeeded nonetheless. It had that anthem quality that can trump everything else in a rock song.
The last time we wrote about customer satisfaction in this magazine, we got a lot of response. Many remodelers objected to the ho-hum nature of merely satisfying customers. “We want ‘raving fans,’” wrote one remodeler, referring to the popular business book by author Ken Blanchard, who summed up the feelings expressed in most of our letters that month.
This is a healthy response. It means that most of you have retained your mental health and have not attended business school, where experts like the University of Michigan’s Klaus Fornell and others have put up with years of statistical brain damage to study our collective buying behaviors. Today the word satisfaction in an academic, B-school sense carries a bit more weight than it does in everyday parlance. Satisfied customers are repeat buyers. Satisfied customers are long-term sources of referrals. Satisfied customers can totally rock your world in a way that Mick and the boys can certainly appreciate: increased profit.
Case in point can be found in the example of the remodeling market’s very distant cousin, production home building. Ten years ago, executives at some of the largest home building companies (with the aid and tutelage of B-school geeks) began studying their contact with customers, looking for the places in the cycle where their relationship with customers frequently got off track.
Not long after, companies like J.D. Power and Associates forced the hand of those builders who were reluctant to play the satisfaction game. They went into 13 major markets and surveyed new-home customers and tallied up some outrageously bad customer satisfaction scores for some builders. When top builders started advertising their wins in these surveys, the writing on the wall was clear: Get hip to satisfaction or sell the company to someone who will. Today the biggest home builders are grabbing market share at historic rates and enjoying long-term relationships with their customers, many of whom seem to be serial new-home buyers.
This month we launch a quarterly section devoted to specialty remodelers who build decks, sunrooms and do exterior improvements. In it we present The Specialty 200, leading companies whose mass-marketing ways are ripe for the benefits of disciplined customer satisfaction. This month and four times next year, look for Specialty Remodeling in the pages of QR. We think you’ll be satisfied . . . in a good