Remodelers serious about quality in customer satisfaction already have the post-construction survey in their arsenal. For Dale Crisp, however, that’s not nearly enough. Crisp, president of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Kendale Inc., uses three surveys to measure customer satisfaction, plus one that goes to clients who choose not to use the company. The NAHB Research Center found this best practice exceptional when it presented Kendale a National Remodeling Quality Award.
"If you have a single [survey], you’re dealing totally in history and relying on recall of what took place three or six months previous," Crisp says. In addition to the post-production survey, Kendale asks for input at the conclusion of the design phase and midway through production. With the early feedback, Kendale can manage the remaining process. "We’re looking at compatibility," Crisp says. "We can correct an immediate issue before it becomes a real problem. We have a management tool to deal with an individual in midstream."
Using the information is critical. "Surveys shouldn’t be used unless you have commitment to using [the results]," he says. "You must commit management and dollars to correct problems that surveys uncover. [Surveys are] the gathering of information. Doing something with it is the quest for quality. To make it valid requires that you do something about it."
The sheer amount of information puts the onus on the company owners to use it, Crisp says. In addition to correcting problems midcourse, Kendale uses the survey results when dealing with employee performance in evaluations. "If you’re getting responses that [make it] obvious that you have a system problem or a personnel problem, it’s your own fault. It’s not [the employee’s] problem to figure out how to adjust; it’s the manager’s job to correct and coach.
"At annual reviews, nobody remembers," he says. "If you can pull out the surveys from over the year, you have a valid management tool."
Input from nonclients provides equally valid management information, sometimes identifying other employee shortfalls. "Nobody wants to really know why [a client didn’t use us]," Crisp says. "It points to several opportunities for management. It’s not meant to put anybody on the spot; it’s part of the process to improve."
Improvement continues on the surveys themselves, which are constantly evolving, Crisp says. Kendale evaluates the surveys to ensure that questions are client-oriented as opposed to management-oriented. "Was the design agreement easy to understand? It’s easy for me to understand; I work with it everyday," he says. "A client criticized how I used a word. 'When I heard "gut my house," my heart sank.’ She had visions of destruction. We learned to recast that as ‘remove all finishes to framework.’ It’s easier verbiage for the client to hear and understand."
The quest for quality will continue, Crisp says, with Kendale improving its surveys. "Quality is a constantly moving target," he says. "When you have high ratings, you change the benchmark so that you [then] have a new question."
-Contact Crisp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904/384-8611.
For an application for the 2002 National Remodeling Quality Award competition, call 800/638-8556, ext. 714, or fax your request to 301/249-0305.