Customer satisfaction—along with reputation, repeat business and referrals—without a doubt is one of the most valuable tools a remodeler can have in his marketing arsenal in an evolving remodeling market.
Even so, less than half of those responding to a Qualified Remodeler survey said they always surveyed customers to determine their level of satisfaction. Ninety percent of those remodelers who surveyed their clients asked if those customers would hire them again. Eighty percent asked if their clients would recommend their remodeler to a friend, according to the survey.
Surveys, according to those responding, were generally done in-house and delivered in person, by postal mail or email. Only 21 percent used a third-party survey service to create, circulate and tabulate their surveys. One-third of the respondents said they had been surveying clients for more than 10 years.
“The importance of reputation is universally recognized today,” says Geoff Graham, founder of Atlanta-based GuildQuality, a company that performs third-party customer satisfaction surveys for its clients. “During the last five years we’ve seen a lot of wheat cut from the chaff in the remodeling industry. Our data shows the failure rate for businesses with very low customer satisfaction rates is 10 times higher than that of companies with very high recommendation rates [from satisfied customers].”
He adds: “What we have left are really good businesses and lots of new competitors trying to enter the market and gain share despite not having a strong reputation. We also have generally wary consumers whose perception is colored by the reputation of the remodeling industry for poor service. On top of that, consumers are extremely price sensitive because they have less money; they’re closely scrutinizing the companies with whom they’re making investments.”
As a result, homeowners are much more focused on the reputation of a company they may be considering hiring and are doing their due diligence in terms of customer satisfaction and whether the company is going to be in business after their project is complete.
Delivering Great Customer Experience
Remodelers have made big gains in delivering a great customer experience, and most professional remodelers are already doing a really good job, Graham feels. “Now, remodelers are looking to articulate their quality service to help prospective customers make informed decisions and have a clear expectation of the experience they can anticipate,” he says.
Remodelers are making significant investment in personal time and marketing to articulate the quality of their work. They’re also getting help from product manufacturers, Graham says, citing a cabinet manufacturer who coaches remodelers about how to share customer feedback with potential clients through the sales process, walking them through what a great customer experience looks like and the remodeler’s history of service. He sees a trend among manufacturers helping remodelers sell their customer satisfaction stories.
One of the prominent things that come up in a Web search of most remodeling firms these days is a list of reviews resulting from customer feedback. “Articulating that value for prospective customers has become a very big deal for remodelers,” Graham says. “Getting the word out about their businesses via social media makes it easy for potential customers to see what kind of experience they can expect to have if they hire that contractor.”
“The focus today is on really exceptional remodelers and using the feedback they receive from customers to articulate their quality and distinguish themselves from less experienced competitors, such as home builders who got into the remodeling market or people who’ve been laid off by other remodelers starting their own companies,” Graham says.