By Alison Rice. As a builder of executive and estate homes in the Washington area, Renaissance Homes knows the importance of customer satisfaction. But it wasn't until the Reston, Va.-based company switched to a team-based approach that it discovered the bottom-line benefits of doing everything it can to treat buyers right: nearly $400,000 in savings from fewer field errors in 2002.
Those savings stemmed from a 2001 initiative at Renaissance, which wanted to improve its "Would you recommend Renaissance to a friend?" responses. The company adopted a team-based tactic toward customer service by splitting field, office, and sales staff into cross-disciplinary teams of roughly 30 people each, who are responsible as a group for specific buyers. "We wanted to create the feeling that everyone is building a customer's home, and it's everyone's responsibility to service that home," says Barry Schwartz, COO of Renaissance, which closed 322 homes in 2001.
The large teams meet monthly to every six weeks, discussing each home. The practice has virtually eliminated the perennial home-building problem of untimely communication between the design center and job that can lead to field errors.
And, as for the original goal of boosting those "would you recommend" numbers, Renaissance achieved that too, climbing to 95 percent in 2002, up from 75 percent in 2000.