As I have noted in prior posts, customer experience is the competitive weapon of the future. Clearly, if you can’t get your marketing right, which is aligning your company with the current and future needs of your customers, all bets are off. But assuming you get that right, then customer experience is how you differentiate.
It’s amazing to me how many companies just don’t get that. My current example is Toll Brothers, the home builder. Well to be precise, per their tag line, America’s Luxury Home Builder. They are a highly rated company that builds a better than average house. They appear to compete on that value proposition. The problem is their customer experience does not align with their value proposition.
My current example is personal, though I have heard from many Toll homeowners that I am not remotely unique. We currently own a home built by Toll. They did a good job with the home and while the experience was not perfect, they made good on their promises and warranties. As with most new homes, they offer a one-year warranty on virtually all items/workmanship.
We recently discovered, after having lived there for 18 months that we did not have a screen for one of our windows. It had never been installed. We have never opened the window, so we never knew, and the home warranty inspector apparently missed it also. Upon finding that the screen was missing, I asked the local office if they would replace it. Their swift answer was no. I pretty much expected that as our community was sold out and they don’t apparently need to care about us anymore.
Not to be deterred, I simply went to their corporate website and logged a complaint with their customer service team. I got an automated email telling me that my issue was important to them and they would respond shortly. After a week of no contact, I tried again. It has now been two weeks since the second contact which was also acknowledged as being important, but still no response.
Clearly, their customer experience lasts only as long as construction and the warranty period. Given how many homes Toll is building just in my town, you would think they would want happy customers and referrals. Not getting one here, and frankly don’t know anyone who would say anything other than their product is better than average.
In a world where customer experience is the competitive advantage, they may be finding difficult times ahead, especially if other builders decide to compete with their product.