Remodeling the Customer Experience

 

Remodeling can make tired old places into dramatic new spaces. Unfortunately, remodeling projects and processes are often filled with challenges for both remodelers and customers. With so many variables and uncertainties, it is no wonder that home remodeling problems consistently rank among the top consumer complaints. 

Industry-leading remodeling companies have been successful at crafting processes and aligning customer expectations to alleviate many customer pain-points. It is as much an art as it is a science to achieve that level of success. Customer experience research for North American remodelers brings to light some common pain-points from remodeler customers. Leading remodelers are successfully navigating these customer pain-points and turning them into opportunities to differentiate from the competition.

#1: Project Finishing on Time

The number one area for dissatisfaction from remodeler customers is the length of time taken to complete the remodel compared to the projected completion date provided at the start of the project. Only 30 percent of respondents indicate that their project finished on time or early, with 40 percent reporting that their remodel finished one to four months later than projected. The impact of a remodel on the daily life of a customer can make every day of the project seem like an eternity. The remodel timeline often becomes a ticking time bomb for customer frustration and must be managed with that same level of concern. Initial time projections must be realistic, while erring to the side of under-promising in order to allow an opportunity to over-deliver. Proactive strategies for communication are especially important throughout the project to foster increased customer satisfaction in today’s world where consistency and reliability cultivate loyalty.

#2: Project Finishing on Budget

The number two area for dissatisfaction from remodeler customers is that the final remodel missed the mark on budget. A dramatic 54 percent of survey respondents indicate that their remodeling project finished over the projected budget — with 26 percent reporting their projects finishing over budget by 10 percent or higher. It is the myriad of unknowns that make the original remodeling budget virtually impossible to hit. These unknowns also include the multitude of changes often requested by customers during the project— which typically delight customers until the final tally is done. When it comes to the remodeling budget, it is critical that remodelers work carefully and consistently on managing customer expectations, while also using inoculation techniques frequently; administering small doses of possible worst-case scenarios to increase customer immunity and fend-off a full blown outbreak of customer dissatisfaction should some of these scenarios materialize.

#3: Days Past to Make Corrections

Winning the race for customer loyalty doesn’t necessarily mean that a remodeling project will finish without a few incomplete or deficient items. Leading remodelers have learned that winning the race is more often the result of getting out of the pits quickly and back on the track when issues arise. While 48 percent of remodeler customers indicate that it took less than 10 days to correct incomplete or deficient items, a significant 25% report that it required more than 30 days. Each day that passes is time lost in the race for customer loyalty.

#4: Perception of Time to Fix Items

Time is of the essence to today’s consumers and the next area for dissatisfaction further reinforces that point. Items noted as incomplete or deficient at the end of a remodeling project are like open wounds in the battle for customer loyalty. The faster a remodeler can remedy these items, the higher the probability that this customer will survive to be an advocate— providing future referrals and positive online reviews. The formula for customer satisfaction is [Customer Satisfaction = Perceptions – Expectations]. The perceptions of customer are largely an outcome of the expectations set by a remodeler along the customer journey. While 62 percent of respondents indicate that the time taken to correct deficient items is about as they expect or less, there is a great opportunity to exceed expectations within that group. There is also a significant opportunity to increase customer loyalty by striving to win over the remaining faction of customers that feel these fixes are taking longer than expected. As dramatic as it may seem, each day that passes with these final “flaws” unresolved reduces the likelihood of maintaining a potentially loyal customer. 

#5: Provided Information on Warranty Policies

The next common areas for dissatisfaction from remodeler customers relate to warranty and service. These deserve special attention, as many of the lower scoring areas in the total remodeling experience are rooted here. After budget and timeline irritations, customers are indicating that they are not being adequately provided with detailed information on warranty policies and procedures. Only 39 percent of respondents indicate that they strongly agree that they were provided with detailed information on warranty policies. There is tremendous opportunity to increase customer loyalty and differentiate from the competition for remodelers that diligently employ a formal warranty service program. Clearly defining and communicating the warranty service program is the first step to alleviating this customer frustration. Ensuring that the warranty service delivery is consistent with this defined program will turn an area of customer frustration into an opportunity for customer delight.

Managing the Customer Experience

Customer frustrations in remodeling can be as numerous and varied as the wide spectrum of remodeling projects. A fine balance of art and science is what goes into every successful remodeling project and managing the customer experience requires similar expertise. Finely-tuned methods must be combined with masterful communication to consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience. A remodeling project can turn a tired old place into a dramatic new space. Similarly, leading remodelers are able to transform uncertain prospects into loyal and profitable promoters.

*Data Source: Avid Ratings Remodeler Customer Experience Database. Remodeler customer respondents for projects completed January 2015 to December 2019.