Customer service playing critical role

Developers look to build reputations

The current flood is testing how well developers and property companies take care of customers, which can affect their reputations and influence future customers.

Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the property consultant Agency for Real Estate Affairs, said housing developers should offer good service and financial support to build brand awareness.

“Quick response to problems and other assistance will help housing developers build brand loyalty. This is an efficient word-of-mouth channel to gain new customers,” he said.

Spending money on equipment such as water pumps costs less than advertising and means more to customers, he added.

Mr Sopon said some customers just need encouragement or sympathy.

On the other hand, some developers have been difficult during the ordeal. For some projects that sold out, developers ignored pleas for help or ignored the situation. For other customers, some developers spent too long surveying projects. “This behaviour builds a bad image for developers,” he said.

L.P.N. Development Plc has received plaudits as it mobilised its staff to protect condominiums managed by its subsidiaries. Charan Kesorn, managing director of Lumpini Property Management Co, said the L.P.N. affiliate added staff to take care of as many residents as possible.

One area severely hit by the flood is Pin Klao. As some projects faced high water levels, Lumpini Property provided small boats to bring residents to dry areas and built temporary walkways and bridges. It also bought some food to sell at cost to residents.

“This could not be done without the cooperation of our staff, business partners and all of our co-owners in the projects. We have at least 500 volunteers living in our projects to help protect the properties and take care of other residents,” said Mr Charan.

“Since the company began the ‘livable community’ concept 22 years ago, this flood has been a real test of whether it is concrete.”

He said a condominium was just a building, but more important was the quality of life of the people living in the project. “Quality of life can matter more than price, size or location.”Baan Lumpini townhouses in Bang Bua Thong, Nonthaburi were developed 17 years ago. Marote Vananan, deputy chief officer for commercial service at Asian Property Development, said it had three levels of flood management: monitoring, at risk and emergency.

For monitoring, AP will check for possible leaks and prepare sandbags to protect risky areas, as well as clean out drainage pipes. Some areas will need dykes.

Water pumps will be prepared to drain the water with security guards monitoring the perimeter of buildings. For at-risk areas, engineers will be on alert to maintain pumps.

“In an emergency, if the inner area of a project is flooded, we will evacuate residents as soon as possible. We have a big vehicle ready if the water level is too high for small cars,” he said.

AP also talked with eight hotels in no-risk zones to support its residents in case they cannot find a place to stay. It will subsidise the room rate for a maximum of seven days per unit. Security guards will watch flooded projects to protect residents’ assets.

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