SHARES fell two per cent in Persimmon after the housebuilder reported a fall in first-half revenues, as its focus on improving customer service resulted in fewer legal completions.

The drive to improve customer service by the UK’s largest housebuilder comes after a barrage of criticism that also targeted build quality.

The firm said it had taken note of concerns raised and responded.

The news received a cautious welcome from analysts.

The Charles Church group reported revenues falling 4.5 per cent to £1.75 billion for the six months to June 30.

The group also said average active sites reduced by 8% in the first half.

READ MORE: Housebuilder’s independent customer care review

It delivered fewer homes - 7,584 for the six months to June 30 compared with 8,072 a year earlier - as it slowed down its construction.

The group said its “top priority is to deliver continued improvement in its service to customers”.

It said: “To help achieve this we are adopting a more targeted approach to the timing of new home sales releases on certain sites and plots where demand is particularly strong.”

Forward sales also slowed to £1.6bn, down from £1.7bn a year ago.

Average selling prices rose 0.5% to £216,950, with private sales rising to around £238,350 from £236,700 a year earlier.

The York-based firm which has developments across Scotland, including in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dundee and Edinburgh, launched a review of its house quality and customer care functions in April.

READ MORE: Persimmon sees sales slide and warns over rising build costs

Persimmon chief executive Dave Jenkinson said: “I am pleased that there are some clear early signs that our focus on increasing the quality and service delivered to our customers is beginning to bear fruit, with some encouraging improvements being made right across the business.

“Our progress on customer service shows that Persimmon is listening carefully to all stakeholders and making the changes needed to position the business for the future, while maintaining a robust trading performance.”

As well as customer services woes, Persimmon also faced an investor revolt last year after paying big bonuses to senior executives.

Former chief executive Jeff Fairburn’s £110m bonus was criticised before being cut back to £85m over two years.

READ MORE: Persimmon 'tarnished' by Fairburn pay debacle

John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said the results show that Persimmon is “facing up to some of its challenges head on”.

He said: “Of late, the main points of contention with the company had been around the quality of build and its customer service levels, which appear to be improving.

“While this comes at an initial cost of slightly lower revenues and a longer sales cycle, better customer service outcomes in the long-term could prove to be the right trade-off.

“Average selling prices have nudged up and the operating margin of more than 30% remains very impressive.”

“Looking ahead, Brexit winds and the impact these have on consumer sentiment are likely to keep sentiment towards Persimmon, and the wider sector, muted.”

Graham Spooner, of the Share Centre, said: “Persimmon, the largest UK housebuilder, came out with a trading update leading to a 2.1% fall in early trading.

“The shares are already trading close to a two year low with the Brexit cloud still looming over the sector.”

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that “with the housebuilder arena crowded with competitive rivals offering similar homes at similar prices, recent build quality issues were the last thing Persimmon needed”.

She said improved customer satisfaction ratings are already coming through so the group deserves some recognition, adding “investors won’t be dismayed, nor will they be jubilant”.