An awful lot of retail column inches are consumed with discussing the customer experience, whether it be the good, the bad or the downright ugly. And although at first sight you may be wondering if I’m straying outside my swim lane, I’d contend that customer experience applies to all consumer facing sectors, and that most definitely includes the building trade.
Now, it is rare for me to endorse another retail expert, however, someone who is something of an authority on this topic is my good friend Martin Newman, the Consumer Champion. If you haven’t heard him speak on the subject, when next you do, you’re in for a treat.
However, after the last few months of enduring my own personal bushtucker trials at the hands of a developer, I think I might also be becoming something of an authority on the subject. For those of a squeamish disposition, please look away now, but for those of you who are made of sterner stuff, please indulge me for a few minutes while I share my sad and sorry story.
It all began back in May when, for reasons which are now completely unfathomable to me, I decided that I would bite the bullet, and for the first time in my life, put my money down on reserving (off plan of course) a new build property on a nearby development, courtesy of Bodgit And Leggit Homes (not their real name). I was a newbie, and if I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t be writing this now.
From being entirely different in appearance from the brochure and showhome to specifications which changed at the drop of a hat with no notice or consultation, to the most archaic method of choosing options such as kitchen, tiles etc. known to man, it became an uphill struggle more akin to a tough mudder assault course than purchasing a new home. Far from being an exciting and rewarding experience, it became an absolute chore.
However, there is one thing I learnt at which building developers appear extremely adept; and that is saying no. Usually delivered with not a flicker of apology or acceptance of any accountability. I nearly pulled out at least three times and may yet still do so. So why share all this? It’s not retail after all. Or is it?
The sad reality is that builders don’t understand the business they are in. In their minds it’s about laying one brick on top of another and hoping that resulting structure doesn’t fall down. Whereas in the minds of the poor schmuck who’s forked out many hundreds of thousands of pounds of their hard-earned cash, it’s something entirely different.
Perhaps nowhere else is the customer experience more important than in the building trade. Sadly, the complete opposite is true. Where we need and deserve the best experience, we receive the worst.
As I write this, I’m told I’ll be able to move in sometime in December, but exactly when is being kept a secret and I’m currently waiting for the next hurdle to overcome. My money’s on the kitchen not being in the same postcode when I’m invited to move in. I suppose I should relish the suspense and the constant surprises the entire process is throwing up (which is what I feel like doing on a regular basis). But I’ve become inured to the excitement of it all and treat each new setback with a resigned and rather weary acceptance.
On the bright side however, in their marketing strapline, Bodgit And Leggit Homes espouse their product and the fact that they are, “proud to showcase a stunning collection of new homes”, and that, “new homes for sale in West Sussex don’t get much better”. Now, if only I could share their optimism.