Customer Service is something that every builder claims to provide. Most “Builder’s Story” displays you will see when you visit new home sales offices will claim to have the best customer service in the business. Customer service has become so overstated that it’s almost meaningless. Until, of course, you need it.
So what exactly is customer service? Ideally, it is a company’s commitment to satisfying its new homebuyers by fixing deficiencies and ensuring positive communication between customers and staff, making sure the purchaser remains top of mind, even after the sale has been made. Builders who treat customer service as a necessary evil and not a grassroots component of their business quickly learn that reputations can be made or broken on the quality of the customer service offered.
“An increasing number of home builders today understand the critical role that customer service plays in their overall business success,” said Greg Gee, president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corporation.
Tarion Warranty Corporation is a private corporation established in 1976 to administer the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, which outlines the warranty protection each builder must provide to new home and condominium buyers in Ontario. Tarion licenses all home builders in the province and ensures that they abide by this legislation and that consumers are protected when builders fail to fulfil their warranty obligations. Since its inception, more than 1.3 million homes have been enrolled by the corporation.
“We have seen considerable improvement over the last few years in terms of customer satisfaction, as builders aim to stay ahead of rising consumer expectations,” Gee said.
“The days are long gone when a builder could simply hand over the keys to a new home on closing and walk away. In today’s market, consumers have high expectations, and the leading home builders are focusing on ‘the customer experience,’ including all aspects of after-sales service.”
But customer service is not a fairy godmother ... not all your wishes will necessarily be satisfied and the best thing a consumer can do is become educated about the builder and his reputation as well as the types of things that are covered under the Tarion warranty. It is a good idea to check out your builder’s reputation before you buy, although with Tarion standing behind your home, you are automatically protected from the most glaring of problems. However, customer service is also important every step along the way.
Customer service begins the moment you enter the sales centre. The sales and marketing people are part of the team that strives to put you and a home together — and it’s in everyone’s best interest if that process is professional and mutually satisfying. Choosing your colours and monitoring your home’s progress are after-sales events that provide your builder with the opportunity to initiate customer service policies — and they are often indicative of the builder’s attitude towards servicing customers’ needs.
Your pre-delivery inspection (this is the time when you note any deficiencies in your home’s construction or finishing) is the biggest challenge to your builder’s customer service department. It will be their job to ensure that every detail of your home is exactly as it should be prior to you accepting delivery of the home.
This can be a rather stressful experience, however, a company that is committed to getting it right in order to maintain a good reputation in the marketplace will view this as an opportunity to make customers happy.
And luckily for today’s homebuyers, the strength of the Tarion Warranty Corporation stands behind every new home — your assurance that your home will meet or exceed vital standards in construction. As always, though, the expression, caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies.
The best advice is to choose a builder with a good reputation and who has been in business for a long time.