Corporate Social Responsibility 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 Stipulated in the Group’s code of ethics and conduct, Our Values and Ideals. the Company operates customer consultations 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. At Customer Service Department, business departments and Group companies hold meetings and also set up working groups regularly to share the information. Problems and responsive actions are discussed and assessed, summarized as tangible measures. Then, the measures are executed throughout the Group, and 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

In order to enhance customer service, Sumitomo Forestry established an after-hours call center in 1999, providing a prompt response in situations such as when customers need a lifeline in the event of an emergency. Additionally, in 2010, the Company upgraded its call centers into Sumitomo Forestry Call Centers, unified national 24-hour 365-day toll-free call centers dedicated to receiving calls for repairs and maintenance. In order to raise broad awareness of the centers among customers, direct mail was sent to those who had already moved into their homes, magnets with contact details were given to new home owners at handover, and the Company has also featured them on its website and magazine exclusively for home owners. 
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.

A Sumitomo Forestry Call Center

A Sumitomo Forestry Call Center

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 2015, the percentage of customers who responded “I would recommend Sumitomo Forestry Home houses” was 86.5% in the survey of new owners, and 84.6% 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

Hosting Home Building Consultation Meetings at Commercial Facilities

Sumitomo Forestry hosted “Home Building Consultation Meetings and Seminars Concerning Inheritance Advice” in collaboration with Matsuzakaya department store’s Ueno branch in July 2015.
The event provided a forum for people considering new construction, rebuilding, renovation or utilization of land to learn about Sumitomo Forestry’s home building technology, the quality of wooden house, and the latest technology without having to visit model house in a casual manner. The Company is considering holding such events again in the future.

Home Building Consultation Meetings event site

Home Building Consultation Meetings event site

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 2,954 people in fiscal 2015.

Technology Exhibition Area’s external and internal views Technology Exhibition Area’s external and internal views

Technology Exhibition House's external and internal views

Participating in the Sixth Eco-House and Eco-Building EXPO

For three days from March 2 through 4, 2016, the Sixth Eco-House and Eco-Building EXPO was held at Tokyo Big Site, and the Sumitomo Forestry Group set up a booth for the first time. The EXPO is one of the largest of its kind in and brought together approximately 2,000 small to large companies operating in building materials, energy-saving devices, home equipment, and HEMS and BEMS business areas. The Sumitomo Forestry Group set up a booth for BF columns and domestic cedar laminated timber and introduced its wide-ranging business cases encompassing from rehabilitation of old and historic houses, building medium- to large-sized houses, construction of green walls, and woody biomass power generation. In addition, the Group staff gave a talk at the “Eco-House and Eco-Building EXPO Specialized Technology Seminar” during the event.

Company booth at the EXPO Company booth at the EXPO

Company booth at the EXPO

Website Operation and Magazine Publication

Sumitomo Forestry operates its Club Forest special website for owners of Sumitomo Forestry Home houses. As of March 2016, about 87,000 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 260,000 prints were issued in fiscal 2015.

The cover of Lovely Family

The cover of Lovely Family

Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech Co., Ltd. Establishes Century-old Home Club

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. In 2015, in continuation from 2014, the club held its second social gathering, which included a tour of preserved houses built by Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech and “Former Home of the Nakamura’s,” a designated important cultural property, in which 10 pairs and 20 people have participated.

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. 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 2015, the Group made efforts to drive a unified sense of branding within the Group. At the same time, internal training was provided on self-regulation and on laws related to advertising and labeling, such as the Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations.
In fiscal 2015, the Committee held its internal study session on product registration laws. While it held a briefing on “VI Guidelines” which regulates labelling of the Company logos for strengthened Group branding, laws surround advertising and labelling were also reminded. Additionally, the Committee hosted a web opinion exchange, created website management guidelines, provide 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.
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 Report 2016