Customer service is a concept that has been around for more than a century.
Simply put: Quality assistance and guidance from a company will bring buyers back.
But as Brookfield Residential is proving, there’s more to the story.
For the award-winning builder and developer, customer experience — known throughout Brookfield Residential as CX — is a core focus.
Brookfield Residential builds homes in a variety of styles and develops communities in both the Calgary area and Edmonton area markets, as well as in a number of other markets across North America.
“Customer experience has really evolved primarily due to the introduction of some world class brands like Amazon, Google, Starbucks, and Nordstrom that have really upped the game in terms of understanding the feelings, emotions, pain points, goals and objectives from a customer lens,” says Allan Klassen, Brookfield Residential’s chief experience officer.
Brookfield Residential’s commitment to CX involves an in-depth study of what the customer experience entails and educating its personnel on how to succeed at delivering a quality experience company-wide.
It starts with taking a different perspective.
“Customer service has always been driven from the inside-out. I liken customer experience as being a lens far more from the outside-in,” says Klassen.
“How does the customer view the journey?” he adds of what’s examined. “What are their pain points? Fears? Desires? Goals?
“How do we as an organization align our processes, our behaviors, our skillsets to be able to deliver on these expectations?”
Listening to their customers’ feedback, Brookfield Residential has developed an intricate customer road map. This focuses on eight meaningful moments for the purchaser throughout the process of buying a home through Brookfield Residential.
From there, the company can evaluate the home buying experience from a customer’s perspective and tailor their processes accordingly.
“That is about how the customer is feeling about their journey from their initial visit to our website through a continuous journey of living in their home and our communities,” Klassen says. “This journey is one that we have really tried to understand by connecting with the consumer and understanding their perspectives.”
Their learnings about customer experience do not just improve certain departments. It’s a full-court press.
“Before we even start down this journey you have to have an alignment in terms of your culture and behaviors,” Klassen says.
“What we have invested heavily in — across North America — from the chief operating officer all the way through our entire organization, everyone is taking CX training on the behaviors, skillsets, and competencies around delivering and building strong relationships with our customers, team members, trade partners, and builder partners.”
Customer journey mapping is used as a north star to develop systems, processes, and make hiring decisions.
“Doesn’t matter if you are an accountant, frontline superintendent, in sales, marketing, behaviors are not about a role, they are about relationships,” Klassen says. “They are about empathy, being authentic, creating trust, being able to ask great questions, being able to resolve conflict. Those skills, those behaviors are transferrable externally and internally.”
The aim is to not only see repeat buyers but to build a base of raving fans. People who will talk about their experience with Brookfield Residential to friends, family and co-workers and share their experiences online.
Lori Topp, president and CEO of the Alberta New Home Warranty Program, expands on the uniqueness of the Brookfield Residential approach.
“The best organizations are the ones that can take inspiration and practice from outside their own experience and use it to inspire and invigorate creativity and excellence in their own operations. Brookfield Residential has never been satisfied with the status quo and has long been a pioneer in the Alberta building and land development industry. There’s a real kinship between our organizations, not only because we share a customer and 45 years of working together, but also because ANHWP is not satisfied with “good enough”; the Brookfield Residential team inspires and pushes us to continually improve and innovate, and we respect them as being one of the best in the world at what they do.”
While use of technology and digital tools to enhance the customer experience is important, it should only be a piece of the puzzle, says Klassen.
“I don’t believe you will be able to survive by just relying on technology, not creating a human connection, and not understanding that this is very personal for people,” he says.
“Technology is an escalator but only when you have the right people behind the scenes.”
Building a perfect home is nearly impossible. With 60,000 fail points in residential construction, despite everyone’s best efforts, things can go wrong.
“One of the terms I’ve learned in the CX journey is inoculation,” Klassen says.
“When you inoculate and communicate the potential challenges that could happen – even though there’s a good chance they won’t — you build trust and build that trust bank account which I think is the key to delivering a great customer experience.”
One of the ways in which Brookfield Residential contributes to a quality customer experience is through its membership with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
“In addition to our own two-year, industry leading customer care program, The Alberta New Home Warranty gives our customers the reassurance that we have partnered with the best provider of new home warranty,” says Tiffany Ardolino, Brookfield’s director, sales, marketing and customer care.
“For builder partners, they provide a clear, consistent set of standards to meet or exceed, and for the customer the confidence that the home they are purchasing is protected.”