Customer excellence according to Francis
At home with us
Throughout the years, our colleague Francis van der Schoot has clearly earned her spurs in the field of marketing, communication and commerce. Francis is in her element at VanWonen and her position as Sales Manager suits her perfectly. ‘I have a very exciting and versatile job. It is great to guide people through the entire process, from a plot of land to the moment they receive the keys to their new home. And to make this a wonderful experience for customers.’ Francis has a good sense of humour, is always thinking in terms of opportunities and solutions, and always seeks to connect with her customers and relations. How does she ensure customer experience excellence in her daily work?
With enough experience under her belt, Francis knows better than anyone that purchasing a new-build home is quite exciting for everyone. After all, we’re talking about a home, a basis, and that, of course, goes further than just stacking stones. It’s something big, being involved in the development of your own home and getting to see it being built from beginning to end. My goal is to make this exciting and sometimes stressful time fun. After all, it's really very special to realise something like this together. I see it as my job to bring calm, a bit of perspective and air into the process. It’s important to help our customers at every step in the process, but also to keep an overview for them, so that they can make the right decisions. And above all to inform customers and move with them. If, for example, it's difficult for a customer to meet during the day to discuss things, we can arrange an appointment in the evening, when the children are in bed. I believe it’s important to think from the customer’s perspective as much as possible and to understand their needs and wishes. But also to manage expectations well. Sometimes we don’t know the planning yet. I am aware that, if the information is not complete yet, it can cause uncertainty. In that case it’s good to get in touch and let customers know that you will give them an update as soon as more is known. And during the project, when we are busy behind the scenes, customers will appreciate it if you keep them informed of the progress. A short message is often sufficient. It's all about empathy and involving the customers during the entire process. That’s important to me and it is fantastic that we invest in customer experience excellence. We also measure the customer experience, to know exactly where we need to make adjustments. That’s very valuable and keeps me on my toes.’
Even before a development starts, Francis meets with the customer. ‘We do this during an initial market and customer orientation, to gain initial insights into the (housing) needs and wishes of potential buyers. But I’m also involved in the selection of the architect and the contractor and, together with my fellow project developer, I meet with stakeholders, including municipalities. This gives me a good understanding of the starting points of a development. I think along, I join in the conversations, I watch and I plan. And I make sure that all supporting materials are in order. We keep working on something until it becomes more and more concrete. Together with my fellow project developer, I make many of the decisions and we can make timely adjustments in order to achieve the best result: the creation of a real home and satisfied customers. I am the ‘owner’ of my project. It makes my job versatile, dynamic and never boring.’
How do you manage customer communications, now with Covid-19?
‘We have used this period to expand our communication options. We now have experience with Webinars for the transfer of information and we also talk with customers through teams. We let customers choose which type of contact they prefer. By phone, online, or simply in person. In person is still the nicest, but it is up to the customer. The very special moments, such as the start of construction or the handover of the keys are also done differently than in the past. But we keep it as personal as possible and we keep surprising people. Because my goal is to make sure that buying a new home is a positive and fun experience for customers.
What is an experience you’ve enjoyed most recently?
‘Fortunately, there are many great moments in my work, but of late it has been Duinzijde. As development and sales team, we managed to get the first phase ready for sale in a very short time. We then organised an event in the PEC stadium, and within two weeks almost all 47 houses were sold. This was possible because everyone, sales managers, sales coordinators, project developers and the contractor, responded very flexibly and quickly to meetings, questions and the digital signing of contracts. We were quite nervous beforehand and it’s really neat that we managed to pull this off together!