With the new homes industry as competitive as ever and the government's "Help to Buy" scheme increasing demand, housebuilders have never been under more pressure to distinguish themselves from their competition. But despite new homes being at the epicentre of political and topical discussion, how many new home builders have really stamped their brand authority onto the market place?
Whilst housebuilders have done a great deal of work to promote the quality of their offering, developing a brand and a respected identity requires more than just slick advertising.
Speaking to Showhouse magazine before the New Year, EWA's Michael Mosley, suggested that housebuilders should focus on the quality of their customer experience in order to build a better image of their brand.
"People talk about promoting the new homes industry louder, but what about quieter? Branding is not and never has been an advertising campaign – branding is something you live."
No great brand can get by without a great product offering and focusing advertising campaigns around the quality of new builds plays an important part in building a positive identity. But in an age where a competitive marketplace and the forum of social media has never given consumers so much power, focusing on the product alone isn't enough any more.
"When you walk into a Five Star hotel you expect excellent customer service. Before you've seen the room, used the bar, or checked in, so much of what goes on has already been a Five Star experience" continued Michael.
"But according to our own research, homebuilders simply aren't doing enough to maximise the customer experience, with consumers consistently feeling ignored when making enquiries."
"'They've ignored my online enquiry'; 'They've ignored my voicemail'; 'Once I bought my house they ignored my problems' – this appears to be the shocking norm of the industry."
"So let's change those comments into: 'I couldn't recommend a new home enough,' or 'They were so helpful and even after I moved in, the service was excellent.'"
Michael commented further, going on to say:
"It will change when the industry starts treating people who buy new homes as customers and not as cash cows. Another hotel analogy: Premier Inn. I get a decent bed and a great service every time I stay there and it doesn't matter what the location is, I will recommend them. If I recommended a housebuilder to a friend in the Midlands because of my experience in Cornwall, I will bet good money that their experience won’t be the same."
Improving the quality of customer service within the industry requires a real change in attitude, with a need for new home builders to embrace customer service completely across their organisations and at all levels. The sooner housebuilders begin to embrace change, the stronger their brand identity is likely to become. The overall message? Acquiring leads and enquiries is important – but finding a way to generate advocacy through consistent customer service is arguably even more vital.