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Seven Steps to Driving Outstanding Customer Service in the Home Buyer Journey

By Jeff Menzel 7 min read

There are many reasons why new home sellers should prioritize achieving high rates of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction means happy customers, more referrals, less stress, and a stronger reputation. It also means they can charge premiums easier and typically get harder-to-sell homes off the market faster. Especially in a slow market, reputation matters — and putting the time in to build strong bonds with buyers pays off.

As we discussed in a previous article, determining what a happy customer looks like can be done through close listening. Is the customer saying things went well and as planned, or are they saying the process was beyond what was expected? Are they going to tell people about their home, or are they going to brag about their home? We want the latter.

At New Home Star, we like to visualize the home buying journey and track customer satisfaction through a full customer experience journey map. 

Graphic Describing the Emotional Journey of Building a New Home

Each customer experiences a rollercoaster of positive, neutral, and negative emotions while buying a home before reaching the final stage of the home buying process: the move-in. We usually see an initial dip in the graph through the mortgage process, then a spike when the customer gets to the design center and starts picking out unique aspects of their home. Feelings might dip down again as the customer experiences the disappointment of hiccups such as a broken window or a shower shelf installed where it’s not meant to be placed. Every customer will go through neutral or negative points during the journey, so it’s not about trying to avoid them — it’s about how sellers interact with customers in those moments and how they take advantage of the positive ones that matter. 

Here are seven ways to achieve exceptional customer service during every step of the journey, regardless of any external factors getting in the way.

1. Focus On What You Can Influence

Many new sellers make the mistake of trying to keep the customer over the moon happy at every twist and turn of the home buying process. They don’t consider that some elements of the process are inherently not fun — and as mentioned above, it’s unavoidable that customers will dip into the neutral to negative range at some points. 

Instead of keeping everything in the high positive range, sellers should recognize that some things are out of their control and instead do what they can to boost the positivity that they can control. For example, consider the mortgage process — instead of trying to make it a positive experience (which it won’t be because it never really is), think: how can we get this from a -4 to a -2 experience? What expectations and actions could we take and set to make that process as smooth and positive as possible? Then, spend more energy on making the highs even more memorable.

2. Be Upfront About the Not-So-Good Times

In the first stages of the home buying journey, let customers know about some of the possible upcoming downturns. What can you tell them about the process now to set reasonable expectations and ensure they don’t experience any unwelcome surprises down the road? As we discuss in this post on best practices for managing construction delays with buyers, it’s important to bring a plan B into the picture to show buyers that processes can slow down or go sideways, but it’s not the end of the world — it’s part of the journey, and the new home they’ll walk into at the end of the building process will be well worth the wait. By painting a picture of what could go wrong now, you’ll curb disappointment and leave room for unexpected positive points along the way.

3. Leverage Data to Find Places for Improvement

We like to keep a pulse on customer satisfaction through consistent surveying done throughout the home buying process; this helps us learn where we can improve and avoid as many negative dips in the home buying journey as we can. Sales teams should gather overall team data from the whole region, individual sales team data, and individual performance data. Then, study the trends for the sales-related questions and scores. Where are you scoring consistently high? Capitalize on those areas. Where are you scoring consistently low? Make a point to improve upon those points in the buyer journey. Analyzing the trends for each salesperson and community means you can personalize points of improvement and note what’s going well for both individuals and broader teams.

4. Teach Your Team How to Talk to Customers About Surveys

It’s critical to teach your sales team to talk to customers about the survey in an appropriate and helpful way. Encourage them to share why you conduct the surveys in the first place (“this is how we learn and improve”) and open the door for both positive and negative feedback. We like to try to get in front of any negative feedback that comes our way by telling our customers that if they ever feel they can’t rate us at a nine or a ten, please let us know as soon as possible so we can help with the situation. We also reiterate how much we care about their home buying journey (“It’s very important to us that you have an amazing experience… this is how we assess it.”). Importantly, never pressure customers to take a survey. If for some reason they’re hesitant to fill one out, don’t force it. Luckily, we find most customers are more than happy to share feedback.

5. Take the Buyer’s Temperature (Many Times)

Along with surveys, we recommend our agents check in with customers multiple times during the home buying journey and ensure proper touchpoints are in place and executed. As noted in a previous article on managing backlog delays, we like to say it’s best to share updates (or non-updates) with buyers at least once a week. If no notable updates are worth sharing that week, agents should get creative — one option is to share happenings in the buyer’s community or upcoming neighborhood events to get the customer excited about move-in day.

6. Make Neutral Points More Memorable

There are many moments during the home buying journey that aren’t particularly memorable, and new home sales teams have an opportunity to move these neutral moments on the scale to positive experiences. It’s not about pouring substantial time, money, and resources into pleasing your customer — it’s about being thoughtful and showing them you care through small gestures. 

For example, we recently brainstormed ways to make the pre-drywall experience more of an interactive and memorable point on the home buying journey. What if we could find a way to personalize it? We came up with the idea to have each family member write a personal message on the studs in their home that reflected what the new home meant to them. This was a way to bring the buyers closer to each other and unite during this typically routine process, creating a family memory that positively influenced the buyers’ perspective.

7. Close Out Strong

One of the best ways to cement an overall positive home buying experience with customers is through follow-up after closing. It’s best if you can make it as personal as possible. Visit the homeowner after they move in and check in on how they like the space and neighborhood. Ask specific questions about how the move went and their plans for improving the yard, decorating, etc. 

We also often like to provide new home buyers with a personalized closing gift. One of our team members recently worked with a gentleman who wanted to propose in his new house after it was built, so we helped him. We tricked his girlfriend into coming to the house at the right time, bought decorations, and spray painted ‘congratulations’ all over the dirt for that extra impact. She was definitely surprised! And the memory created another very positive association both with the new home and with the New Home Star team. 

Of course, customer service is constantly changing — new technology comes onto the scene to make customer interactions more seamless and give us more ways than we could imagine to stay in touch with buyers. At New Home Star, we’re always on the lookout for ways to make the home buying experience better. Still, we’re also realistic and prioritize setting buyer expectations from the start, fully knowing that those negative points do happen. The home buying journey map is an excellent tool to reference to get buyers, sales agents, and builders on the same page about what to expect during each step of the process and beyond.

Originally published Nov 3, 2021 under Explore the latest topics, updated March 4, 2024

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