Sales and service companies in all sectors talk about being ”customer centred”, “putting the customer first”, and so on. But how many of us really strive to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers. For us, it's an exercise in really trying to imagine all the steps that have to be taken when buying a new home, and I mean all the steps.
Our senior management team sat down a few weeks ago and consider this question. We began by making chart of all the instances where we initiate contact with our customer. Kind of like asking how many times do we bother them. I'm not entirely joking, because even though we might think the reason for the communication is very important, it may be perceived by the customer as an unwanted intrusion, especially the customer isn't expecting to hear from us, or needs lengthy explanation for the reason of the communication.
So, we made the chart, and we were rather surprised. There are more than 15 occasions when someone from Tartan initiates communication with our customer. Furthermore, it's not just one Tartan representative that does a communicating; it's no fewer than four people, representing three different departments. It's true, these communications take place over a significant period of time, sometimes as long as a year. It is also true that a number of these communications are formalities. But it did leave us with the notion that, from the customer's point of view, buying a new home can be a lengthy, time-consuming, and complicated process.
We ask ourselves if we could reduce the contact points, and eliminate or combine communications to make things simpler. We realized that we've whittled it down as much as we can. In the end, we decided we could only try and do a better job of what we have been doing all along; be as clear as we can with our customers about what they can expect in terms of communications from us, when they can expect them, who they will be hearing from, and why. It doesn't always work. Some customers listen very carefully, some not at all.
I suppose it all balances out; selling and building a new home is time-consuming, detailed, and requires lots of precise communication between various parties. It’s the same with buying one.