September 10, 2015
How to Improve YOUR Residents’ Customer Experience
Management guru and author Peter F. Drucker has said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” In short, everything else is secondary. For property management companies, this means retaining and delighting your residents.
Beyond curb appeal, beyond the condition of the front lobby… how do your policies, practices and processes contribute to the customer experience of your apartment community?
Where do you begin creating a positive customer journey for your prospective and existing renters? To quote Steve Jobs, who was known for his customer-centric approach to business, you’ve got to “start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”
Too often, “customer experience” is often thought of as a technology solution that will magically solve all of the property management firm’s problems related to their residents.
However, before adding on any tech solution, take a walk in your customers’ shoes. A customer journey map can be thought of as way of charting and describing all the experiences a prospective renter and existing resident has of the property management company from first impressions to monthly rent payment.
What are the customer service touchpoints for your property management company? For multi-residential building owners and managers, here are some common Point of Customer (PoC) engagement examples, and questions you need to ask to improve the experience.
The prospective renter’s journey begins from first inquiry (stemming from a referral, ad or web search) to application and approval to move-in.
Marketing – Is your ad clear with complete information and including a website address? Can the prospective renter find all the decision-making information they need on your website? Are there photos and floor-plan layouts? Details about the community and local amenities?
Inquiries/Property Viewing – Can the prospect make an inquiry in the manner that is most convenient to THEM? (e.g. Telephone, email, online form, social media, text.) How positive was their first contact interaction? Did the prospect receive all the information they needed?
Application – Do you have an online system that facilitates 24/applications? How seamless is the transition from “web browsing” to the application process? Can you ensure that all the data is captured? Do potential renters have to repeat information? If so, how can this be eliminated or minimized? How does the application process impact your brand image? Does the prospect leave the application process with a clear understanding of the next steps?
Credit Checks/Approvals – Faxing is all but obsolete; can the prospective resident submit all data online at the time of the application? Can they be approved quickly? (This is mutually beneficial as it ensures a good customer experience and also ensures that no leads/applications are lost to a competitor.) If the application is not approved, how is this handled? Does the applicant have the option of downsizing to a smaller, less expensive unit?
Move-in – Are all key stakeholders aware of the expected move-in date and time? Are keys available? Is an elevator secured for moving? Is the unit prepared and ready? Are all appliances and fixtures working properly? Is there a digital welcome package with all key information, rules and regulations? Post move-in, is there a system in place to ask for feedback on the process from inquiry to move-in?
Existing residents have very different touchpoints, with the most common being monthly rent payment. As well, other factors play into their daily journey, like maintenance issues, communication and feedback.
Rent Payment – How easily can your residents pay their rent? What options do they have? Can they log into their account and access records of payment, or make payment changes? Do they receive confirmation of paid rent, or rent reminders?
Maintenance Issues – Do you have a system in place that allows your renters to get in touch with you 24/7? What kind of confirmation do they receive to notify them that their issue has been heard? Will the issues be resolved within a mutually agreeable timeframe?
General Information/Communication – What kind of strategy is in place to clarify and communicate building policies and resident responsibilities? Are communication pieces personalized and relevant? Can residents access a self-service FAQ or knowledge bank of information? What unexpected (and delightful) communication can your property management team delivery- a holiday card, birthday greeting or “resident anniversary”?
Feedback – Can your renters get in touch with your property manager to provide feedback on services rendered or suggest a new idea? It can be beyond frustrating for residents to receive updates from their building but then can’t respond to them directly or provide feedback. However, by using a two-way messaging system you can turn an impersonal update into an intelligent conversation.
Improving the customer experience has a direct impact on revenue. Happier residents stay longer and are more likely to refer friends and family to vacant units. When you map out a resident customer journey, internal teams (from customer service to finance) understand the impact their actions impact both prospects and renters. And, any negative experiences and resident complaints can be minimized, increasing customer goodwill as well as productivity.
Here at Property Vista, our company was built by property management industry experts for property management firms. We understand best practices and the importance of the customer journey. All of our solutions are designed to help property managers attract and retain residents, while improving the customer journey.
To learn more about our solutions for marketing, leasing, communication and operations, sign up for your free account today or give us a call to learn more.