Jun 15, 2023
Building a Strong Foundation for Customer Experience in the Construction Industry
This week, we welcome Brian DiSabatino to the Digitally Irresistible podcast. Brian is a fourth-generation owner and CEO of EDiS Company, a family-run construction company that has served regional communities in Delaware and beyond for over 100 years.
Born and raised in the construction industry, Brian knows firsthand that its hyper-competitive nature has created a perception among customers that each company is an interchangeable commodity. Brian became motivated to differentiate EDiS from other construction companies through a unique value proposition that emphasizes customer experience. Brian and his team studied brands and leaders in other industries with good customer experience models and asked themselves, “If these companies were in the construction industry, how would they do it?” This exercise reaffirmed their commitment to implement practices that reflect EDiS’s core values and provide an experience that exceeds expectations throughout the customer journey.
On this episode, we discuss how, under Brian’s leadership, EDiS developed a four-pillar approach to customer experience based on alignment, authenticity, accountability, and action. Through this innovative approach, EDiS has differentiated itself from others in a competitive industry in their region and set a high standard for the customers they serve.
Taking a Page From Other Industries to Build Customer Loyalty That Spans Generations
At his grandfather’s funeral, Brian spoke with a gentleman who had worked with Brian’s family beginning at a young age. He described how the company’s workers devoted themselves to building and renovating schools, cathedrals, community centers, office buildings and other projects that went beyond mere structures. Many became landmarks that changed their communities for the better. Reflecting on EDiS’ history in the community launched Brian’s journey to reinforce a strong connection between construction and community building.
Since 1987, Brian has defined his role as a fourth-generation owner by considering strategies to rebuild these connections in an industry that has lacked a reputation for good customer experience. EDiS has inherited customers through connections Brian’s great-great-grandfather began making 115 years ago, so he asked himself the question: “What creates a level of customer loyalty that spans over a century?”
To answer this, Brian looked beyond construction to other industries and brands that prioritize the customer experience. He found admirable examples in hospitality, retail, and other industries that provided inspiration to emulate when developing a customer experience strategy specific to the construction industry. The result? A four-pillar approach to customer experience that focuses on the customer’s journey with a deeper understanding of their wants and needs, combined with an ongoing commitment to community support. This shift in strategy has positioned EDiS to begin a new chapter in its century-plus contribution to construction in the region that it serves.
A 4-Pillar Approach to Customer Experience
Brian’s research and networking efforts led to his four-pillar approach to design, develop, and manage construction projects. As the CEO, Brian’s journey has made him reflect on building what matters, a core value of EDiS. This approach reaffirms the age-old values of community and quality the company stands for while also meeting the expectations of modern-day customers accustomed to great experiences from other brands, which has raised the bar for EDiS.
The first pillar is about setting the intention to meet your customers’ needs. Meeting the core expectations of a customer, such as good food at a restaurant, is table stakes. For a truly exceptional customer experience, companies need to understand their customers’ wants and needs in more detail and go above and beyond to provide a personalized experience that exceeds their expectations. Dialing into the customer’s needs and aligning your service accordingly can create extraordinary results that build loyalty through small acts such as seating a couple on a first date in a quiet corner or providing a candle in the dessert on someone’s birthday.
The second pillar is about delivering on the high standards set for meeting customer needs. After you understand your customer, you need to provide service that exceeds their expectations throughout every step of the customer journey. This includes the “back of the house” moving parts that will indirectly influence your customer’s experience.
The third pillar is about articulating these expectations to your team. In the construction industry, there is a stereotype of a superintendent yelling at their staff that a project isn’t moving fast enough. A more effective way to keep teams accountable is to maintain mechanisms for feedback that celebrate positive performance and boost employee engagement. Encouraging excellent communication through people, processes, and technology is critical for effective feedback loops that provide accountability.
The fourth pillar is about pulling everything together and walking the walk. In addition to going to seminars and reading books for inspiration, you have to hire people, develop processes, and gather data to deliver exceptional customer experiences. When receiving both positive and constructive feedback, the company needs to be open to acting on potential solutions.
Breaking the Mold for Customer Expectations in the Construction Industry
It’s no secret that the construction industry isn’t always recognized for high-quality customer experience. Brian’s decision to make customer experience a core business model isn’t just nostalgia; it’s a savvy strategy that has opened doors to technological innovations, employee satisfaction, and customer loyalty that have improved outcomes at every level of the business.
New Processes for Delivering Exceptional Service Improve Outcomes for the Whole Community
Since implementing the four-pillar approach, EDiS has utilized a branded process to gather intelligence and context on each customer such as:
· Has the customer ever had a project go wrong?
· Does the customer have any budget concerns aside from the stated budget?
· How does the customer define success?
· What players or stakeholders are involved in this project?
· Who are our customer’s customers and what’s important to them?
For example, when building a school, any number of factors can delay the project. No matter what, school still opens in August. Parents, teachers, and students all rely on EDiS to complete construction (or renovation) on time on a building that is essential to the community. This process identifies crucial factors that bring the company into alignment, allow them to deliver, hold them accountable, and equip them to take action.
Empowering an Exceptional Employee Experience
EDiS’ four-pillars for exceptional CX have revolutionized their team’s approach to going to work every day. Their strategy is built on collaboration, so all processes are team oriented and emphasize effective communication. Their work culture stands out in the industry through positive reinforcement and a growth mindset. Everyone in the company complements each other’s strengths and brings something to the table for one another. Just like their customers, potential hires and tenured employees appreciate knowing that the company they work for can align with their values and deliver an authentic experience.
Sharpening the Company’s Competitive Edge in the Construction Industry Through Tech-Enabled Teams
Listening to customer concerns created positive ripple effects across the quality of service EDiS offers. In one example, EDiS customers voiced that high contingency spending was a top concern in their decision to select a construction company. EDiS invested in developing a digital modeling program to reduce potential contingencies by harnessing technology to diagnose the building’s design before breaking any ground.
By actively listening to customers, EDiS made their construction projects safer and prevented contingency situations that would lengthen the project timeline and increase customer costs further down the road. Investing in technology has allowed them to provide the best results for their customers and communities.
In the next 10 years, Brian foresees the continued evolution of technology in the construction industry. The digital transformation has already changed the customer psyche across all industries, so it’s critical to capture that curve. Employees who work in construction will increasingly need to be familiar with technological advances. By embracing technology and empowering teams to deploy it effectively, EDiS can differentiate themselves from the competition and provide a better experience for their employees and customers alike.
A Customer-Centric Culture Drives Growth While Aligning With Core Values
Throughout his leadership journey, Brian’s vision for EDiS has been to build what matters. In the construction world, this means providing a service that is safe, efficient, and timely. At EDiS, it means going beyond service to create an experience that shows customers they are valued and creates smiles throughout the entire customer journey. Brian's investments in technology support his four-pillar approach to align with customer needs, ensure authenticity, hold his company accountable, and take decisive action toward implementing and improving processes.
Brian’s customer-centric focus differentiates his company from others in the industry and inspires his customers to choose EDiS over competitors. Valuing the human element of the industry has also improved the employee experience, encouraging workers to value communication and collaboration to provide a differentiated experience. Brian’s innovations have created opportunities for the company to thrive in a future defined by technology, efficiency, and community connection that enables continued growth while staying true to the values his family began building over 100 years ago.
What Brian Does for Fun
As Brian’s last name, DiSabatino, suggests, a love of cooking and eating Italian food is in his blood. His favorite pastimes include spending time with his three children and enjoying the meditative benefits of fly fishing on the upper Delaware River.
Watch the video here.
Read the blog post here.