Tag Archives: Customer Satisfaction

TORONTO, Aug. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, provider of software solutions for home builders and developers, has acquired Woodland, O’Brien & Scott, a Minneapolis-based company specializing in customer satisfaction and data analysis for the home building industry. With many customers in common, the Woodland, O’Brien & Scott team will be joining Constellation HomeBuilder Systems to provide customer insight expertise and expand the business services available to the industry.

The purchase of Woodland, O’Brien & Scott compliments Constellation HomeBuilder Systems‘ leading position in the North American residential construction market, and is particularly notable in the customer satisfaction space. “The addition of Woodland, O’Brien & Scott’s services to our suite of solutions will allow builders to analyze the data that really drives customer satisfaction across the entire homebuying, construction, and warranty process.” said Chris Graham, Vice President of Constellation HomeBuilder Systems. “Combined with our acquisition of Conasys Homeowner Care in 2014, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems can help builders increase homeowner satisfaction with better communication and convenient online resources. Now they can benchmark and demonstrate that improvement.”

“The alignment with Constellation HomeBuilder Systems will allow Woodland, O’Brien & Scott services to integrate with the most authoritative software in the market and further increase awareness and growth of our services,” said Charlie Scott, president of Woodland, O’Brien & Scott. “This acquisition will also provide a long-term home for Woodland, O’Brien & Scott’s staff and valued customers.”

Established in 1986, Woodland, O’Brien & Scott has become a trusted consultant for operational excellence, and considers over 100 premium builders to be long-term partners. The “Voice of the Customer” survey is considered an industry benchmark. Company founder Keith O’Brien, managing partner Charlie Scott, and the rest of the Woodland, O’Brien & Scott team will join the Constellation family. Charlie Scott will continue to be closely involved as Director with Constellation HomeBuilder Systems’ professional services team, bringing 25 years of experience in home building operations and managing Woodland, O’Brien & Scott since 2007. Charlie Scott is also a National Housing Quality Award judge and an author for Professional Builder magazine, bringing substantial operational expertise to the Constellation HomeBuilder Systems team and customers.

This acquisition, along with substantial new personnel and software investments, will significantly benefit current and future customers of Constellation HomeBuilder Systems and Woodland, O’Brien & Scott.

About Constellation HomeBuilder Systems:

Constellation HomeBuilder Systems builds software solutions for private and public production home builders, and efficient custom builders. Their innovative solutions empower builders with information, driving business objectives from website to warranty. Constellation HomeBuilder Systems continuously improves home construction software, and is committed to maximizing your return on technology investment. Constellation HomeBuilder Systems is the home building software division of Constellation Software Inc., an international provider of market-leading software and services for specialized industries, and is traded publicly on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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In a world of political correctness who would guess that something as seemingly innocent as calling warranty “customer care” could have negative repercussions? Certainly not companies striving to please customers. But builders should consider at least three points before naming their warranty department the customer care department.

Big Picture Implications
The old adage “Customer service is an attitude, not a department” applies. Having a department named “customer care” (or for that matter, “customer service”) implies to the rest of a company’s employees that customer service is the responsibility of the Customer Care staff.

Service responsibilities and skills should be part of every job description in the organization. Precise performance standards for service should be integrated throughout each step of the experience, should express the integrity of the company, and should impress customers with its energy and attention to details. While these goals are certainly appropriate targets for the warranty staff, sales, mortgage, selections, construction, and closing personnel should share the same objectives.

Homeowner Expectations
Customer care implies great flexibility – a nurturing, generous, almost limitless package of services. This subjectivity is built into the title customer care. Homeowners are likely to expect service based on their personal standards and wishes.

What actually follows in most cases is warranty service based on the company’s limited warranty guidelines and practices. Many points are non-negotiable and measurable standards are often applied. This objective approach contrasts sharply with the implications of the friendly name. A soft name does not guarantee that homeowners will hold a high opinion of warranty service any more than a bouquet of flowers will convince a buyer that his home is complete when it is not.

“New Home Warranty Department” on the other hand implies a black and white set of repairs are available for a specified amount of time. Still, nothing in this name prohibits a builder from considering individual circumstances and making common sense exceptions when appropriate. Written warranty guidelines are a starting point – subject always to sound judgment.

More is gained if the builder retains control from the beginning instead of attempting to take control back from homeowners who expected “customer care” – not just warranty service. When a warranty office begins with black and white guidelines then makes appropriate exceptions, it can be a hero to many homeowners. Conversely, starting with an undefined “customer care” image often leads to hostile opinions from homeowners when warranty requests are denied.

Survey Savvy
Many satisfaction surveys include questions about customer care – intending to gather feedback about after move in services. Builders logically interpret responses to these questions as an evaluation of the warranty person or department.

Meanwhile, customers see a company’s service as a fluid component, coming from all personnel and all directions, flowing in and around the transaction from start to finish. Unless the questionnaire clearly identifies warranty service, the customers’ ratings may be a reflection of service from other departments: Phone calls not returned by sales? Pricing information slow to come from design? Lack of empathy from the field staff? Trade contractors eating lunch in their under-construction home?

Frustrated warranty personnel often lament low ratings from survey respondents who have never contacted the warranty office. Imagine the effect of this if those same warranty personnel work under an incentive program and this confusion is costing them bonus money.

Referring to warranty as “warranty” both on the organizational chart and in satisfaction questionnaires reduces the chances of such confusion and misinterpretation. Survey questions should ask customers to rate the service of each company function from sales through warranty. Feedback then provides more accurate indicators of where improvement is needed.

A rose is a rose is a rose… but “customer care” and “warranty service” are not interchangeable names.

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About Carol Smith
Carol Smith offers customer service assessment, consulting, and training programs for home builders. For more information, visit www.cjsmithhomeaddress.com.

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