The homebuilder should have a policy that all customer service requests go to the main office…either by mail, e-mail, or telephone…rather than being taken care of verbally in the field…where the homebuyer goes straight to the customer service field representative on the jobsite.
The warranty relationship for new home construction is between the builder and the homebuyer…not between the builder’s customer service representative and the homebuyer.
Sometimes, verbal promises are made by the customer service person to the homebuyer, of which the main office is totally unaware. Should this customer service person be laid-off or moved to another project…the homebuyer feels betrayed by the builder for not providing what was verbally promised by the builder’s representative.
To better control the process, customer service requests should start by establishing the relationship between the main office and the homebuilder. The main office can thus be aware of and monitor customer service repairs and thereby control homebuyer satisfaction.
If the number and magnitude of the customer service items becomes overwhelming for the repair people in the field, the main office can then place more customer service repair people on the particular project.
Obviously, providing good service means fixing some problems immediately. For example, a homebuyer stops a repairperson working close-by in the project, and says that a towel bar came loose, or a doorknob does not work, or there is something else that the customer service person can fix easily and quickly…it is usually best to make the repair right then.
In these instances, immediate service is better than telling homebuyers they must write or e-mail or telephone in every minor repair. Good judgment, however, must be used in the field or the repair people will make all sorts of ad-hoc repairs without either getting the credit for the time spent…or the main office knowing about these service repairs.
This is a difficult issue having a gray area where expediency and commonsense sometimes dictate that the customer service repair person on the jobsite can fix a particular item in 10 minutes…without having to involve the main office…as a result of this repair person conveniently working in the adjacent condominium unit or the house next door…and simply adding this one repair task to the workload agenda for that day.
This is going to happen in real life…relationships will be formed on the jobsite…new homebuyers and customer service people will be on a first-name basis…and that is good to a point.
But the official policy for the homebuilder must be that customer service requests from homebuyers go through the main office…otherwise the homebuilder is out of the loop and unaware of what is occurring on their projects in terms of service to the customers…and the workload of their field staff.