Still wondering if green construction can lead to greater customer satisfaction? Look no further than Avalon Central Alberta - this year's AVID Diamond Award winner for best customer experience in Canada - for proof. Founded by CEO Ryan Scott's parents in 1983, the company has seen a positive growth in its client feedback since making green building a trademark of every home it builds. In fact, the company's goal is to build only net-zero homes at no additional cost to consumers by 2015.
A lot goes into Avalon's outstanding reputation for customer delight and loyalty. Most notable are the company's drive to make the home-buying process stress-free and enjoyable for every customer, and its commitment to never mailing-it-in with a customer. Instead of writing off a disgruntled client as impossible to please, the company bends over backwards to resolve issues and turnaround any dissatisfied customers.
"When there is a difficult customer or a problem that comes up, it's not who has to deal with it, it's who gets to deal with it," Scott explains. "It's a different culture where you're not trying to avoid the problem; you're trying to turn it around."
The company is driven by a central question: Why accept unhappy customers as inevitable? This attitude is pervasive throughout the organization and it has helped the builder achieve 21 years without a single customer complaint, according to the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
Things weren't always so rosy on the customer service side of the business. When Avalon first started building homes in Red Deer, its customer satisfaction ratings were nothing more than respectable. As the company grew to 50 starts a year, however, their scores dropped - primarily because customer expectations were not properly set. With the help of a consultant, the company was able to identify some problem areas and turn things around.
"We weren't willing to be second best," says Ryan Scott. "That year, we went from the bottom to the top, and each year we continue working to improve our level of customer service."
To that end, the company offers employees basic and advanced training in customer mediation each year, as well as weekly seminars on customer service.
"We use our home buyer survey reports from AVID Ratings to assess how well our policies are working, and we spend a lot of time talking to our customers," Scott adds.
Avalon also does everything it can to head off complaints before they arise, which is why the company schedules 30-day, three-month and one-year post-closing inspections to take care of warranty repairs a homeowner may not even know exist.
|Ryan Scott at the awards ceremony|