It has been over seven months since Taylor Wimpey released its results for the full year to 31 December 2015 (1 March 2016). This included a statement from Chief Executive Peter Redfern, which recognised improvement was needed with regard to his company’s poor customer satisfaction levels. Perhaps it is time to take stock and conduct our own ‘Redfern Review’.
Peter Redfern said:
“During 2015, we achieved a customer satisfaction score of 86% (2014: 87%). We are disappointed that this has slipped. Whilst we operate in a cyclical market, we strongly believe that a customer centric approach is needed throughout the cycle. During 2015 we completed an in-depth review of every aspect and stage of our Customer Journey, to identify areas of improvement and to deliver a better homebuying experience for our customers. Throughout the review, our focus has been on understanding our customers’ priorities to enable us to deliver at and ahead of expectations. We have also commenced the process of rolling out our new customer approach across the business with a focus on three main areas: our culture, management structure and process. This is to ensure that going forward we deliver the right product, supported by excellent customer service to all our customers at every stage of their journey with Taylor Wimpey.
As part of this new approach, we have developed a customer mindset focused on delivering proactive, positive and professional service, which we want to ingrain in our behaviour with customers. We have also developed and will be embedding four customer commitments in the business, focused on getting it right first time, communicating well, keeping promises and finding solutions.
In addition, during 2015, we have enhanced the capability and size of our customer service teams across the regional businesses, with the introduction of a number of key new roles. In 2015 we developed and started to implement a training programme to equip those employees interacting with our customers with the right skills to deliver a consistently great service.
We are pleased to see a positive trend in customer satisfaction in the monthly survey scores in the second half of 2015. Customer service will remain a key priority for Taylor Wimpey in 2016 and on an ongoing basis.”
So how is this new dawn of customer service going at Taylor Wimpey?
In this Redfern review, you only have to read the tweets on #thinkwimpeythinktwice and the Taylor Wimpey – Unhappy Customers Facebook Group to see it’s business as usual. Same indifference to both the quality of its new homes and customer service. But I believe something has changed – it has probably got even worse!
Taylor Wimpey’s development at Loddon Park near Reading is a prime example. One of the longest suffering buyers is Luke Mahon, who even after nearly two years of extensive remedial works, installing missing insulation and other defects, still has issues outstanding. On 26 September 2016 Luke @MyHouseSucks tweeted: “2 years ago today we moved into our new @TaylorWimpey house. Today we move back in for the 3rd time. Worst of all, it’s still not finished!” and on 1st October 2016 he tweeted: “Two years this has been going on now and guess what? Our @TaylorWimpey house still doesn’t meet building regs! How do they get away it?”
In fact this particular development is so bad Taylor Wimpey CEO Peter Redfern even visited the site recently, presumably to see it for himself and speak with the customers his company had let down perhaps? Not a bit of it! Quite a few of the buyers at Loddon Park have confirmed Redfern didn’t speak with any of them during his visit on 13 September 2016, despite some actually requesting he did!
Some took to Twitter to confirm: Luke Mahon @MyHouseSucks saying “he came to the site, but he didn’t visit my home” @myshoddyhouse said “he came, he saw (with rose tinted glasses), he avoided all residents!” He was late arriving at Loddon Park because he was apparently met by an angry buyer’s picket line at another site! Even the MP for Reading East Rob Wilson has got involved. He first met with residents on this site 14 months ago to discuss their “exhaustive and frankly unacceptable list of defects in their newly-built Taylor Wimpey properties.” He says: “My constituents deserve much better and I will see to it that Taylor Wimpey delivers on its commitments.” In his update on 17 September he adds: “Taylor Wimpey has continually assured me that it is committed to rectifying all defects without delay and that remedial works are ongoing. I remain committed to making sure Taylor Wimpey delivers on its commitments to residents and draws this sorry saga to an expeditious – albeit, long overdue – conclusion”
On 28 July 2016 at another Taylor Wimpey development, ten year-old Gemma Fever was injured when a radiator in the family’s new home fell on her. Her mother Kate e mailed Peter Redfern regarding her daughter’s injuries and has confirmed to me that she has not had a reply from Redfern. Again the local MP Neil Parish, has got involved with his office speaking to a representative from Taylor Wimpey regarding the incident and the action they are taking.
So since those sterling words in the firm’s Annual Report and Accounts, how is the main man doing? Is he leading by example? Has he “developed a customer mindset focused on delivering proactive, positive and professional service”? A good start would have been making a point of visiting his customers in their defective homes, listening to their problems and doing something about it.
As for “getting it right first time, communicating well, keeping promises and finding solutions”? Nothing will change all the time the Company is run by an accountant who appears to me to be either petrified or indifferent of his company’s customers.
Has customer service been a “key priority for Taylor Wimpey in 2016”? Not on this evidence. I believe Taylor Wimpey has, and continues to fail on every account in particular, “understanding our customers’ priorities to enable us to deliver at and ahead of expectations.”
Considering the poor quality of new homes this industry produces, you may wonder why the Taylor Wimpey boss is being singled out. Well he recognised his firm has problems and made a public statement implying something was being done about it. In short there would an improvement.
So here is the Redfern Review. Must try harder? Certainly. ‘D’ for Effort – ‘E’ for Progress? In my opinion, accountants are not best placed to oversee housebuilders. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Good with figures perhaps, but not so good at everything else. It may surprise some that Taylor Wimpey are not Britain’s worst house builders, such is the problem within this industry. It is now time for those in government to do something to end the misery of those who buy new homes incentivised by government policy.
A good starting point would be to end the Help to Buy subsidy for any housebuilder failing their customers by not delivering on their aspirational marketing commitments!