Some of the most common Code breaches in recent years have related to builders not having or applying suitable procedures for receiving, handling, and resolving home buyers’ service calls and complaints, or providing home buyers with an accessible after-sales service. Both rely heavily on good communication, transparency, and clarity. But creating an effective complaints process isn’t simply about adhering to the Code – well-designed after sales and complaints processes can turn a negative customer experience into a positive one and show that your business values and cares about its customers.
So, what makes a good complaints process, and how can you improve your after sales service so that homebuyers are well informed and satisfied with the service they receive? Here are six top tips to consider:
- Be transparent about consumer rights
Be open with your customers about their right to make a complaint, how you will respond and what options are available to them if they want to take their complaint further. Include a copy of the Code and a link to our Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme, as well as details of the relevant home warranty complaints process.
- Have a clear policy
Make sure your complaints policy is clear, easy to follow and written in plain English. Include guidance on how to make a complaint, where to send it, what information to include, and how quickly customers can expect a response. This information should be readily accessible for home buyers and should be included with their Reservation Agreement, as well as being published on your website. It is particularly important to consider the needs of vulnerable customers who may need more assistance to navigate your process.
- Respond quickly
Always respond promptly and within the deadlines set in your own policy. A timely response can help to defuse a potentially difficult situation and resolve a complaint before it escalates. If you’re unable to provide answers straightaway, give a holding reply to let customers know that you’re working on their complaint and when they can expect to hear more.
- Resolve the complaint
It may sound obvious but the most important aspect of a successful complaints policy is resolving the issue raised. The nature of the complaint will affect the response but it’s important to build a clear picture of the problem, explain how and when you will resolve it, and implement what you’ve promised. This may include doing an internal investigation, sourcing input from subcontractors, and/or arranging remedial works. Keep your customer informed throughout and follow-up once the issue has been resolved to check they are happy with the outcome.
- Maintain regular training
All those involved in working directly with home buyers, including your agents, should be aware of your after sales and complaints processes and trained in how to handle feedback. What may start as a minor request to deal with a snagging issue can quickly escalate if the problem is not recorded correctly and followed up. Don’t forget the Code’s free online training is available to help your teams keep up to date with Code Requirements, which will help maintain compliance and reduce the risk of poor service.
- Learn from mistakes
All feedback, including complaints, provides opportunities to improve. Track the complaints you receive and share any lessons learned with your wider team to help continuously improve your service. And keep an eye on the regularly updated resources and blogs on the Code website, including lessons learned from previous complaints and independent site audits across the UK.
How you handle feedback and complaints can help to improve customer satisfaction and build trust. By providing a clear, accessible process, responding promptly, and keeping the customer informed as you resolve issues, you will build more positive customer relationships and strengthen your compliance with the Code.