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NHBC HUG lets Dawn Homes focus on their customers

Active across Scotland's Central Belt, Dawn Homes develops homes for families, first time buyers and those looking to downsize. It has a close relationship with its buyers and was looking for a way to enhance its online presence without incurring significant IT development spend. The company decided to extend its use of NHBC Home User Guide (HUG), giving homeowners online access to a wealth of up-to-date information about their new homes.


Customers' changing expectations

There's been a change in what customers expect from the house-building industry. They want to be able to keep an eye on how their new homes are being built, they want to know what shade of paint is being used in the living room so that they can order furnishings that match, and they don't want to waste space on a large paper welcome pack that contains everything from manuals for the cookers to tips for watering their lawns.

At the same time, builders are increasingly using tablets and smart phones to report project progress, order materials and check their work against building regulations.

What this means is that in many cases the data that customers want is already available.

The question for builders is how to get the information to the customers in a way that is appealing, useful and manages to take some of the stress out of buying and owning a house without incurring prohibitive IT development costs.

Increasing online engagement without significant cost

Glasgow-based Dawn Homes is active across the Central Belt of Scotland, developing homes for families, first-time buyers and people looking to downsize. It tends to focus on relatively small developments, ensuring that its teams focus on build quality.

As a relatively small organisation that prides itself on having a close relationship with its house-buyers, Dawn Homes wanted to increase its online engagement. The company recognised the way that people were receiving and storing information was changing, and it wanted to make sure that it was keeping pace with homeowner expectation. It was also important that this was achieved without incurring major IT development costs.

"Increasingly everything's online," observes Ann Knox, Personal Assistant and Sales Administrator at Dawn Homes. "We used to have a file of information that we would hand over to customers when they bought a new home. It contained details about the house, the guarantees, the manuals for the white goods. It was a massive file, almost the size of a briefcase. It took a lot of work to put it together but we were finding that increasingly clients wanted the information another way."

Building the relationship

As an NHBC registered builder, Dawn Homes has a close relationship with us, with its clients enjoying Buildmark insurance and warranty cover when they buy one of the firm's homes.

As a result, the company saw that implementing NHBC Home User Guide (HUG) would be a quick win. It could offer homeowners a full suite of online information about their new home without incurring the development costs that would be associated with developing it themselves.

Each homeowner has access to an online HUG portal that contains a wealth of information about their new home, such as manuals for their white goods, descriptions of the paint used and internal specifications as well as tips that will help them keep their homes in the best possible condition in the short and long term. Because the information's online, it is there when it's needed, but not underfoot the rest of the time.

Quick resolution and up-to-date information

NHBC HUG contains a section where homeowners can report minor problems that sometimes arise during a new home's settling in period. When these running-in issues are reported, the right person is automatically informed and information about potential resolutions can be quickly passed on. For the homeowner this means that they can quickly and easily see how close their issue is to being fixed. For Dawn Homes, this means less time answering phones and more time making things right for clients.

The HUGs also include full information about the NHBC Buildmark warranty and insurance policy that covers the homes. Because the information is online, if the worst does happen and the homeowner needs to make a claim, they can get to up to date contact information quickly to ensure that any issues are logged, monitored and resolved efficiently.

Avoiding information overload

Dawn Homes is keen to ensure that its customers are not inundated with information, but they have a place where the information is collected in case it's needed. "There's a balance that we want to strike between helping our homeowners and overloading them. With HUG, we can put in lots of information so it's there when they want it," observes Ann. "HUG lets us give our homeowners somewhere to find information without us overburdening them with detail."

From NHBC's perspective, working with builders such as Dawn Homes through HUG helps meet our regulatory requirements. "The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK's financial services watchdog, is rightly intent on making sure that the customers understand the financial products that they are signed up to," observes Debbie Blair, HUG team leader for NHBC. "Using HUG, coupled with the improved conveyancing system that is due to be introduced this year, will help ensure that we meet the FCA's expectations without adding to the bureaucratic load that our teams and our regulated builders have to carry."

Ann suggests that HUG is helping Dawn Homes to help its homeowners. "By offering HUG, NHBC has complemented what we do as a builder," Ann concludes. "I can't sing its praises highly enough. Everything is moving online, and more and more information is held digitally, so being able to offer HUG really helps us to help our customers in a way that they expect. It makes a customer's journey that much easier and improves our post-sale customer care. It really reflects well on us."

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