CSR Information

Communication with Our Customers

Basic policy

Putting Customers First is an element of the Sumitomo Forestry Group’s Corporate Philosophy and Action Guideline and also stipulated in the Group’s Ethical Conduct Rules. The Group has customer service department and call centers, as well as promotes improvement and development of business and services that have adapted customers’ feedback.

Respect for and Application of Customer Feedback

Operation of Sumitomo Forestry Customer Service Department

To attain greater customer satisfaction across the Group, Sumitomo Forestry implemented the measures while setting up Customer Service Department in 2000 demonstrating its Group organizational ability. The Customer Service Department holds periodic meetings and working groups with each business division and Group company to share information. The Department discusses the issues and examples of solutions to bring together as specific measures. Then, the measures are executed throughout the Group, and the Customer Service Department regularly evaluates progress and efficacy of the measures, and undertakes reviews and corrective actions, in line with the PDCA cycle.

Additionally, the Company introduces example creative solutions that can be easily adapted in daily work routine and attributable to customer satisfaction as well as heart-warming stories on the intranet every month. Direct feedbacks and opinions of customers sent to Customer Service Department, details of the consultations and their analysis results, and examples of superior response are consistently communicated. The support for internal training and one-on-one meetings with Group companies are also provided.

Operation of Sumitomo Forestry Call Centers

Sumitomo Forestry established Sumitomo Forestry Call Centers that open 24 hours a day 365 days a year toll free as a consistent dedicated helpline throughout Japan that allows immediate support such as an emergency response lifeline to assist our customers. The telephone number is introduced on magnet cards, owner dedicated websites, magazines and other mediums so that this helpline will be used broadly by our customers.

Presently the centers are located in Tokyo and Fukuoka, and are linked together, shortening wait times for customers who call via the unified national free-dial number. In addition, the system is organized to enable response in emergency situations. The system facilitates prompt response to customer requests and consultations and also strives for improved customer satisfaction.

Volume of calls to Customer Support Centers and the Sumitomo Forestry Call Center, and breakdown of those calls

Volume of calls to Customer Support Centers and the Sumitomo Forestry Call Center, and breakdown of those calls
  • * The Call Center has become a “general housing support” since July 2015 and has been receiving increased number of calls.

Customer Surveys

To accurately assess customer views and customer satisfaction, Sumitomo Forestry distributes a questionnaire three times: once when an owner moves in, and then during the second and tenth year of their residence.

The survey questions primarily cover specifications, design, building materials, systems and fixtures, and the support service provided by the staff. The Company then statistically processes and analyzes these results, and applies any findings to product development and employee training. Customers are also given a short questionnaire at the end of any after-sales maintenance visit or inspection, requesting feedback on such subjects as the attitude and behavior of the maintenance contractor, as well as their response speed and repair techniques.

In fiscal 2016 as an indicator of customer satisfaction, the percentage of customers who responded “I would recommend Sumitomo Forestry Home houses” was 86.8% in the survey of new owners, and 84.1% in the survey of second-year owners. Because the benefits of improvements in customer satisfaction will only appear after ongoing efforts, Sumitomo Forestry will continue to improve its efforts, following a cycle of PDCA.

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Communicating Information to Customers in the Housing Business

Opening a Hands-on Consulting Space

Sumitomo Forestry established the Shinjuku Forest Maison Plaza as a dedicated hands-on consulting space for rental housing in October 2016. The Maison Plaza exhibits construction and equipment, gives advice about land use and rental management, and periodically holds seminars where people thinking about rental management for the first time can participate. This venue is fulfilling its role as the base for informational communication about the utilization of land.

This is the first time a major housing manufacturer has established a facility with functions to offer advice about rental management as well as hold exhibitions and seminars. In fiscal 2016, we had 445 groups visit us over six months, which surpassed our goal of attracting 300 groups to come.

Technology Exhibition

Shinjuku Forest Maison Plaza

Technology Exhibition

At House Exhibitions at which fosters opportunities to communicate with customers about home building, Sumitomo Forestry set up “technology exhibition houses” where displays special technologies and functionalities of Sumitomo Forestry Home Houses in major cities.

The exhibition houses put in creativity in explaining excellent competencies of wooden homes and structural features of Big Frame Construction Method –Sumitomo Forestry’s own building method that is Japan’s first timber rigid frame structure so that visitors are able to understand through direct exposure to the basic structures of the homes.

Currently, the exhibition houses are in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, and total visitors exceeded 3,106 groups in fiscal 2016.

Technology Exhibition House's external and internal views Technology Exhibition House's external and internal views

Technology Exhibition House's external and internal views

Website Operation and Magazine Publication

Sumitomo Forestry operates its Club Forest special website for owners of Sumitomo Forestry Home houses. As of March 2017, about 96,000 owners had registered as members.

Lovely Family is a home and lifestyle magazine sent out twice a year. It also features details about Group company activities such as renovation and utilization of lands. About 280,000 prints were issued in fiscal 2016.

The cover of Lovely Family

The cover of Lovely Family

Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech Co., Ltd. Establishes Century-old Home Club Regular Meet-and-Greet Bus Tour

Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech Co., Ltd. established a Century-old Home Club in July 2013 as part of its safe and reliable renovation ideas. It is a members-only club with an aim of preserving historical family houses for future generations. Members include owners of historic houses (constructed prior to 1950) renovated by the company, people currently living in a historic house, or those who plan to purchase a historic house.

28 people from 13 groups participated in the fourth regular meet-and-greet bus tour in 2016, which visited traditionally constructed buildings such as historic houses built by Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech and the Urawa Kurashi No Hakubutsukan Minkaen (Urawa Old Houses Museum) in Saitama City in Saitama prefecture as well as the former Kyuhasumi Family House that is said to be the oldest private home.

Regular meeting

Regular meeting

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Appropriate Dissemination of Information
and Protection of Personal Information

Observance of Laws, Standards and Norms in Advertising and Publicity

When creating advertisements, Sumitomo Forestry complies with relevant legislation, including the Building Lots and Buildings Transaction Business Act, the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations, and the Copyright Act. The Corporate Communications Department, the Intellectual Property Department and the Legal Group in the General Administration Department cooperate to confirm and verify the content of advertisements as required. Sumitomo Forestry did not violate any of the various laws and regulations related to advertising in fiscal 2016. Furthermore, the Company holds monthly meetings of the Brand Communication Committee, comprised of advertising personnel from relevant departments and relevant Japanese affiliates, and publicizes any matters necessary for preventing non-compliance. Through these efforts, the Company made certain of prior checks, and endeavored to ensure that unreliable information was not communicated and customers not otherwise misled.

In fiscal 2016, the Brand Communication Committee held a study session about the Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations as well as Trademark Registration by inviting both lectures from inside and outside the Group. This session brought understanding of the content of laws related to advertising and labeling as well as violations that can easily occur by providing explanations that included an introduction of specific examples.

Additionally, the Committee hosted a web discussion sessions, created website management guidelines and provided Group website teams with information and instructions on personal information and information security.

「The Brand Communication Executive Committee

The Brand Communication Executive Committee

Systems for Protecting the Privacy of Customers
(Protection of Personal Information)

Sumitomo Forestry has formulated internal rules to safeguard the personal information of customers, such as the Personal Information Protection Policy and the Personal Information Protection Regulations. In addition, the executive officer responsible for general administration is designated as chief executive in charge of protection of personal information. The Company has also placed an information security officer in each department. In these ways, the Company has established a protection system covering Head Office through to each office. In fiscal 2016, one incident was reported about a personal information leak caused by sending an email to the wrong address. We took this issue to the Japan Federation of Housing Organizations, which is a housing agency of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. We reported the situation to the customer and apologized while working to prevent any recurrence.

The Company has also established a help desk for inquiries regarding the handling of personal information within the Customer Service Department. In addition, collective training is provided for the head and general administration representative for each organization. E-learning is provided for all other employees and efforts are made to increase awareness at subcontractors, in order to prevent the leaking of personal information. It is also mandatory for employees at Group companies to undertake the e-learning training.

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CSR Report2017