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Transforming the homebuilding process by digitalising the customer journey - How Bonava doubled its work efficiency with GBuilder’s help

Talking with
Mia Ollila, Group Head of Customer Service and Warranty and Antti Vartiainen, Product Manager

Bonava is a leading residential developer of affordable housing units in Northern Europe with operations in 23 regions in nine markets.

Stockhom, Sweden
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Learn how residential developer Bonava collaborated with GBuilder to offer their customers an easy way to buy a home and operate more cost-effectively.

“The decision to digitalise Bonava’s sales and project management processes has had a tremendous effect on our efficiency. We’ve saved countless work hours by discarding the old way of doing things with pen and paper.”

Mia Ollila, Group Head of Customer Service and Warranty, Bonava Group.

The challenge - too much manual work

In the spring of 2017, Bonava found itself operating in an industry that couldn’t offer customers any kind of digital services. Everything related to home buying and the building of a home was done manually. The customer would get a pile of paperwork to handle on their own. All the punch lists were made with excel, and customers were asked to sign documents and send them back via snail mail in return envelopes.

During the home building process, there was often confusion on collaboration among stakeholders. In many instances, it was unclear who would ensure that the correct materials were in the right apartments, and how it would be guaranteed that the materials were installed correctly. Of course, there were assigned personnel to do these tasks, but the real problem was the communication between the entities. All of them had their distinct way of working, and that was a system that was very prone to mistakes.

Tackling the issue head on with a digital portal

Bonava’s Mia Ollila — working as a Customer Service Manager at the time —understood there were missed opportunities at hand, and that change needed to happen sooner than later. After scouting the possible partners for collaboration, Mia chose to start the development process with GBuilder. She had the idea of creating a common digital portal that would make the customer journey smooth and easy to navigate. For this purpose, GBuilder was the perfect partner.

The timeline of the project was tight but very much doable. Bonava’s personnel from different departments created the requirements and scope for the project in June. GBuilder worked on the development part during the summer months, and already in September 2017 the new processes were implemented and scaled to all of Bonava’s projects.

“The one thing I would especially like to emphasise is how flexible GBuilder has been as a partner. We got the scaling done so fast, and that was a big part of the project’s success. It was an outstanding performance that doesn't usually happen in any company. At least not in that timeframe”,

Mia Ollila recalls.

The outcome and positive impact of Bonava’s digitalisation

Efficiency is a keyword when talking about the benefits of the digitalisation project.

“Before we were using GBuilder’s common data environment, we had to physically go and inspect the apartments by ourselves. Now we’ve been able to streamline the process, and the people at the worksite can do the inspections with the help of our digitalised platform. A good example of efficiency is the developer’s customer service teams who would in the old days carry out two to three projects a year. Now with the digital platform, they have been able to at least double that amount”,

says Antti Vartiainen, Product Manager, Bonava Finland.

Smooth and standardised customer journey for better customer satisfaction

Another great example of the project’s outcome is the smooth customer journey. Since the collaboration began, it was clear that Bonava wanted to have its customer journey standardised. No matter where the customer buys their home, whether it’s in Berlin,Stockholm, or Helsinki, the home buying process needed to be universal.

“When the process is standardised, we’re able to serve our customers better. We don’t need to be worrying about where to start in each building project, and what are we going to offer the customer this time. By having certain processes in place, it’s easier to continue building the product towards even better customer satisfaction”,

Antti Vartiainen notes.

Bonava is continuously measuring its customer satisfaction with the help of NPS (Net Promoter Score) and harnessing the results to create better products. One of those products is the range of themed packages from which the customer gets to choose the design package they prefer. When choosing a certain package, the customer will know the precise cost and look of the home. Everything is designed to be as transparent as possible, thus further boosting the customer experience. GBuilder was an active partner in developing Bonava’s product selection.

“The idea of design packages was purely strategical and was aimed to help the standardisation among other objectives. GBuilder was very quick on responding to the idea and started developing the product swiftly”,

Mia Ollila describes.

Efficient communication

According to Product Manager Antti Vartiainen, the platform provided by GBuilder has had a significant role in communication between Bonava and its customers.

“We’ve been able to send regular news updates from the building sites directly to the platform for our customers to read. They have been very well received”.

The communication also flows well in the other direction. Meaning the homebuyers can easily give feedback to Bonava, and also comment on GBuilder’s platform’s functionality.

During Covid-19, this easy form of communication has taken an even more prominent role in keeping the homebuyers informed in a safe way. The customers have actively taken advantage of the digital snagging functionality. They have been able to do the final inspection on their own without having Bonava’s representatives around, thus not having to compromise on the general safety guidelines. This was something many of the customers preferred to do.

Saving on time, money and materials

When asked what is the most concrete advantage the collaboration with GBuilder has given Bonava. The answer comes without hesitation. It’s the benefit of efficiency, and through that, improving the customer experience.

The efficiency benefits are substantial. Because GBuilder’s digital platform enables the real-time information flow to different stakeholders without hiccups, the unnecessary email marathons are a thing of the past. This itself has saved plenty of time both for Bonava’s staff and their customers. Also, the fact that all of the shared information is stored on the platform is an efficiency booster. It’s easier for everyone to refer to a specific message or information when it doesn’t have to be chased around. Again, saving valuable work hours.

When all of the required project information has been in one place, and the platform has been easy to use, the customers have responded very positively.

“When we started this project together with GBuilder, my thought process circled mainly around the customer journey. Buying a home is a unique situation in a person’s life, and it’s filled with tricky legal requirements. The process calls for huge effort on the customer’s part. If on top of that they have to deal with multiple contact persons, who all use their industry jargon, it can be a lot for the homebuyer. I wanted to make the whole process understandable and make sure buying a home required minimum effort”,

Mia Ollila sums up the idea of a better customer journey.

Combating climate change

Bonava is one of the building industry's leading companies to take action to combat climate change, and their climate targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative already in 2020. This means that the company has committed to pursuing efforts to limit global warming to under 1.5 celsius. They are also working on new ways to offer more sustainable products for customers.

In sustainability issues, GBuilder’s configuration module and development of themed interior packages have been useful in reducing excess waste. When the required building materials are precisely calculated beforehand — a process that is fully automated within GBuilder — there’s no reason to order bigger amounts of material that’s needed on a certain project.

Utilising the sales data

“At Bonava, a big part of our work is measuring what performs well, what customers prefer, and what will work for them in the long run. We do our best to be agile, and to respond to the customers changing needs. And even though the main parts of our processes are now standardised, there are still some parts that can be varied”,

Antti Vartiainen explains.

GBuilder’s digital platform has been an important tool for Bonava’s measuring system. It’s an indispensable feature that helps the company to collect data on sales metrics. For instance, the platform collects all the info on the most popular material choices and which materials have the biggest profit margins. Also, if for some reason a certain interior design package isn’t selling well, GBuilder’s platform provides useful data on why that might be. The data shows exactly in which building projects that specific interior design package has been sold, which customers have bought it, and whether there is a price adjustment that needs to be made to that package for it to sell better. Those are important figures that have contributed to Bonava’s success since the collaboration with GBuilder began.

Choosing the right partner

“In the beginning, we had tremendous needs that called for extremely agile development. I’m quite sure that the people at GBuilder might have felt a bit overwhelmed for a second when I told them my vision. But their response was excellent. Together we developed a whole new customer journey management platform from a scratch. At the time, it was a huge undertaking, and I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better partner to do it with”,

Mia Ollila concurs.


GBuilder white-paper cover titled "Configuration Module 2.0 - The Hearth of a Modern Customer Journey"

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Why now is the right time to invest in digital customer journey management with the help of a configuration module and boost your sales and ROI simultaneously.

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