Customer Care Resolutions for NHQB Compliance in 2023
Customer care should always be high on the agenda for home builders. Enhancing your customers’ experience is a sure way to elevate your brand, receive rave reviews and subsequently secure more buyers and tenants for your properties.
And this year the introduction of the New Homes Quality Code (NHQC) means that the customer experience is an even more essential consideration in your sales processes. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the five most important customer care resolutions you can make, to ensure you’re compliant with the new Code.
So, whether you think you might need to up your game at reservation or simply boost your impressive sales and handovers with some top notch customer care, you’ll find something here that you can implement in 2023.
Resolution Number 1: Open and Honest Communication with Buyers
Ensuring your customers know what to expect from the homebuying journey will not only fulfil one of your obligations outlined in the new Code, but will also lead to better relationships with your buyers, while working to increase their trust and commitment to the purchase.
Right from the moment a potential buyer enters one of your sales suites, the language used verbally and in writing should be plain, easy to understand, and not misleading in any way.
At the point of reservation, you should provide your buyers with all the information they need to understand your specific buying process. Their buying journey should be an exciting experience, where they feel in control of any decision-making or actions required of them.
Another important expectation to manage for your buyers is the timescales for the various aspects of the build and buying processes. An educated buyer is more understanding in the case of delays or problems along the way.
Reservation manuals, such as those we provide, allow you to provide comprehensive information in jargon-free language, and they work as a step-by-step guide to the whole buying process, while our award-winning residential portal, Spaciable, can be used to issue instant notifications and build progress updates.
And remember, if you’re registered with the New Homes Quality Board, this must be stated in your sales and marketing materials. The new Code logo must be displayed prominently in your sales suite and any physical spaces related to the sale of one of your homes, as well as in sales brochures and online.
Finally, the Code itself must be available in an accessible format to any buyer who wishes to read it.
Resolution Number 2: Avoid High-pressure Sales Tactics
You can provide all most the helpful information in the world, but if your buyer feels they were hard-sold one of your homes, or pressurised into making a decision before they were ready, their buying experience will not be something they regard positively or promote happily to their friends and family.
You are also not permitted to use high-pressure selling techniques if you are registered with the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB). To give a couple of examples from the NHQC, these include implying there is another party interested, or an imminent price increase when neither is true, or offering a financial incentive for an immediate decision on reservation or sale of a property.
For some sales professionals this stipulation of the new Code might bring worry and doubt about whether they will manage to meet their usual sales targets. However, a sale that has been made after deliberation is far less likely to fall through. Not only that, but a customer who has enjoyed the process of reserving and purchasing one of your homes will be naturally enthused in their conversations about buying one of your homes. This makes for a great bit of free marketing for your brand!
Resolution Number 3: Cater for Vulnerable Customers Fairly and Appropriately
At times, you may be called upon to provide suitable advice and assistance to a buyer who is classed as a vulnerable person. The importance of being ready for this situation and acting appropriately is imperative to comply with the new Code.
The first action required in order for you to fulfil this obligation, is to ensure you always identify a vulnerable person. Often you will be made aware of a potential buyer’s vulnerability from the get-go and can act accordingly.
However, where there is a person who you suspect is vulnerable but has not declared their vulnerability, it is the responsibility of you or your team to clarify whether the individual is in fact a vulnerable person, from either themselves or their representative.
This can be a delicate situation and the conversation must be respectful. As stipulated by the NHQC, the enquiry must be ‘considerate, inoffensive and non-discriminatory.’
It is advisable to provide additional training to any team member who might find themselves having to query the vulnerability of a potential buyer. It is important for employees to know the manner in which you wish them to make this type of enquiry, and to remember that the tone and method of this communication will have an impact on the perception of your brand and your ability to treat a vulnerable customer with care and respect.
The Code advises ‘that employees do not make assumptions about the degree of knowledge that a customer has.’ Providing your customers with the comprehensive information included in our Reservation Manuals would mean they leave with a step-by-step guide to the whole buying process in user friendly, jargon free language.
Resolution Number 4: Make Completion Day Exciting and Informative for Buyers
The new Code stipulates that legal completion can only take place on a ‘Complete New Home’, meaning once the home complies with all building regulations and meets all applicable building safety requirements for safe occupation, as well as having a New Homes Warranty issued in relation to it.
But your obligations do not end here. Upon completion, developers registered with the NHQB must have provided a pre-completion inspection and a new home demonstration, to explain how all the appliances in the new home operate.
Alongside these face-to-face requirements, developers must also provide full details of any guarantees and warranties that accompany the new home and its appliances, as well as details of the New Homes Warranty, including the extent and duration of what is covered and the exceptions, exclusions, limits, excesses and conditions that apply to their warranty cover.
It is also essential to detail the complaints procedure to buyers at the point of completion, and provide a Health and Safety File for the new home and a Building Regulation Completion Certificate.
Now, if this sounds like a lot of documentation to provide at handover, you are not mistaken. However, we have been providing Completion Manuals that fulfil all of these obligations for over 25 years.
We create beautifully bound folios and document boxes, made bespoke in your colours and branding. Alternatively, the content can be presented as a printed booklet or digitally, on our Spaciable portal, which features an interactive library to house certificates, policy documents and user manuals. Each Completion Manual is plot-specific and includes all of the information required to fulfil your completions’ documentation requirements, as well as fully detailing your complaints procedure, as required by the NHQC.
Resolution Number 5: Provide an Excellent After-Sales Service and Complaints Resolution
The new Code requires all registered developers to facilitate an after-care service that extends for a minimum of two years past the date of completion.
Your aftercare procedures must be clearly stated in writing upon completion, as well as the actions your customers need to take in order to report any snags and defects during their first two years in the property, as well as describing what they can expect from you in terms of dealing with those defects.
Guidance on timescales must be provided for your buyers, as well as the option for homebuyers to categorise their issue as a complaint if they are not happy with your proposed approach.
There should be details of what issues are classified as an emergency and how you will deal with them. This classification must include issues that have the potential to impact health and safety or could lead to injury or loss of life.
And of course, it is essential to detail issues that are regarded as normal maintenance and ‘running-in’, which are the responsibility of the customer. Ensuring that these details are included not only helps you comply with the new Code, it also leads to a reduction in calls to your customer care or after-care teams for issues that you are not in fact responsible for.
Again, our Completion Manuals comply with each of these requirements, as well as making an attractive addition to your buyers’ new homes; an addition that will be seen by their visitors and goes the extra mile in demonstrating your dedication to being a conscientious developer.
So, if you need any help or advice on the written documentation you must provide for your customers, you should get in touch with us. As suppliers of NHQB accredited content, we will be happy to help you start 2023 compliant with the new Code.