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Design approach increased customer satisfaction – and sales

A service design project was the start of the journey that led Block Watne to change their entire mindset: What once was a traditional house building company is now a company organised to fit its customers' needs. The result has been revenue growth, customer satisfaction surpassing the competitors’, and more satisfied employees.

Block Watne contacted Halogen in 2015 because they wanted to utilise service design in their sales- and marketing work. They wanted a “leads generator” in order to improve the sales process from the point where the customer shows interest in a prospect to when they sign the contract.

However, the service design project quickly evolved to encompass much more than the sales- and marketing work. It led to an entirely new customer strategy and made the Norwegian housing giant change their mindset regarding their customers’ journey of buying a new home. Instead of viewing it from their own point of view, as a sales process, Block Watne now views the process from the customers’ point of view, as a buying process - organised around their customers’ needs.

Time spent with the customers is essential

In the beginning of the project, it was important for our designers to understand how Block Watne ran their business. The designers mapped out the internal processes by talking with key people in the company. After this initial inside-out mapping, they went on to talk to the customers. Nine families that represented the breadth of Block Watne’s core target groups received a visit.

“Spending time with the customers is the only way of understanding their needs well enough” says Anne Zanussi, designer in Halogen who has worked with Block Watne since 2015.

Dream, choose, wait, own

Meeting the customers resulted in a visual representation of the customer journey - all the stages that a homeowner goes through in the process of buying a new home. The designers then gathered all the findings from Block Watnes customer satisfaction index (CSI) and mapped that on top of the customer journey.

“This felt a little like a Columbi egg: an obvious solution that no one had done before” Anne Zanussi explains.

“We knew that the customer satisfaction was too low, but when we combined the CSI with our qualitative findings, we could see where the CTI dropped, and thus which parts of the customer journey that we needed to improve.”

This resulted in a new understanding of what really matters to the customers, and the stages they go through: First they dream of their new home, before they choose which house they want to buy. Then follows a long waiting period while the house is being built, and then at last they get to own their new house.

“Dream, choose, wait, own. These four phases summarised all our insights and became the pegs we then used to ground the rest of the project,” says Zanussi.

Woman and man with child on balcony
Photo: Block Watne
Street with houses
Photo: Block Watne

Changing the mindset of the entire organisation nourished growth

Changing the mindset of an organisation of 650 employees that deliver more than 1000 new homes from 82 different building sites every year, is not done in the blink of an eye.

“Changing the mindset of our people throughout the organisation was a challenge. For instance, it was important to me to appeal to the pride of the craftsmen’s profession,” says Bjørnar Tretterud, sales- and marketing manager in Block Watne. He underlines the importance of getting the organisation as a whole to take part in the shift, from top management to the first line workers.

“I started visiting the building sites. I talked to them about the little things - like throwing all waste straight into the containers. A clean building site communicates seriousness and solidarity in an entirely different way than a building site where garbage is floating around. In addition, it has a positive effect on the EHS (Environment, health and safety) of the site,” says Tretterud.

A year after the concept dream – choose – wait – own was introduced, a new web page and several other measures had been launched. The effect was clear: The number of leads had gone up, downloading of prospects from the web site had rocketed, the customer satisfaction had improved and the sales increased considerably.

Agile development of digital solutions for customers and employees

The thorough insight from the first phase of the project led Block Watne and Halogen to consider the vast potential in developing digital solutions for both employees and customers.

“We realised early that we had to develop our own digital platform if we aimed to meet the needs of both Block Watne and their customers. It was crucial that Block Watne trusted us and were willing to back up an ambitious development plan,” says Lasse Pedersen, business developer at Halogen.

Halogen’s design environment and the development environment Code11 were chosen as partners to create the new digital platform. Code11 are experts on agile software development and started their work by establishing a technical platform that would be used as a base for the digital solutions.

Three screenshots of blockwatne.no on mobiles

Min side (My page) and Min byggeplass (My building site)

In line with their new customer strategy, Block Watne and Halogen developed Min Side (My page). Here, the house buyers get all the information regarding their building project gathered in one place, with the possibility to follow the building process and the progress from the building site.

Min byggeplass (My building site) is what makes this possible. The carpenters gather all the information about the project on this digital site. The solution also encompasses several checklists that the carpenters have to complete, ensuring that everything in the building project happens in accordance with current rules and standards.

“It has been important for us to spend time at the building sites and involve the employees in the development. We observed their work habits and which needs they have on site. Because of this, we created a solution together with the carpenters, for the carpenters” says designer Anne Zanussi.

New image feature provided positive side effects

As a part of their digitalisation ambitions, Block Watne chose to develop new digital work tools for their employees. The team started with developing solutions for managers and carpenters on the building site. To meet the house buyers’ information needs during the waiting period when the house is being built, the workers at the building site now have the opportunity to capture and upload images of the building process. The pictures are then made visible for the customers at Min side (My page).

“We have had many joyous side effects in addition to the house buyers increased patience during the waiting stage; the craftsmen now make sure that the building sites are tidier, for the images to look better. This is of course also good news for the EHS of the building site and how we are perceived as a company. Additionally, we have experienced buyers that notice mistakes in the construction early in the process. This makes it a lot easier, quicker and cheaper to fix the mistakes compared to making changes when the house is close to finished,” says Tretterud.

Bjørnar Tretterud also mentions that minimising the need for paper on the work site makes the job of reporting a lot easier.

“The Building managers get their job done much more quickly, and we get the information directly into our systems. In addition, we see a great advantage in receiving structured data into our system, that we can use in evaluations and improvements. Before the digital solution, our best case scenario was scanning paper and creating pdfs without the possibility to search and structure” he explains.

“Our investments in digitalisation have given us great gains and important effects for both our customers and our organisation."

For more information, please contact

Lasse Pedersen
Head of Strategy and Business Development
+47 91 85 11 00