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Election lesson #1: Customers are always right

First things first: it’s clear from the public reaction that the Conservatives got it wrong in the general election – badly wrong.

That said, from the point of view of the housing and construction sectors, the positive here is that a Conservative government, supported by a ‘confidence and supply’ alliance with Northern Ireland’s DUP, is unlikely to be problematic. 

The emphasis will be on minimising rebellion and fallouts to ensure as clear a focus on Brexit negotiations as possible. As we have been hearing over the past few days from across the Channel, these talks need to get going and get going now if we are to have any chance of striking a decent deal by March 2019. 

As a result, there will be no appetite for radical or potentially controversial domestic policies. Expect housing funding issues to be addressed by new minister Alok Sharma and efforts stepped up to clear the way for increased supply.

Engage or fail

For me, the big lesson of the election result is to never assume you know your customer. If you think you know them, you don’t.

A core lesson in business is: if you don’t engage with your people, you will feel it. This is why it’s essential to focus on ensuring the quality of customer service and engagement.

“I now expect to see much less ‘Punch and Judy’ politics and more positive policies”

The Tories assumed they knew their electorate but they obviously didn’t. They simply didn’t engage well enough to understand the issues that matter to people. As a result, the people have said to all politicians: ‘Enough – start listening to us.’ You can see how that has worked to some extent in Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign.

I now expect to see much less ‘Punch and Judy’ politics and more positive policies as a result – from all parties.

Above all we need to hear the sound of silence from Westminster, as politicians of all parties listen up to their electorate. After all, the voter is always right.

Nick Sterling is managing director of Osborne Communities

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