April 16, 2015
Three Simple Secrets of Outstanding Customer Service
Across Canada’s six biggest cities, rental units under construction are double their five-year average. According to a recent report, there were almost 24,000 rental units being built across Canada in the second half of 2014. That’s up 52% from a year earlier.
In the U.S., rental vacancy rates fell to 7% in the fourth quarter of 2014 – the lowest percentage of vacancies in 21 years. According to US News: “Monthly rental payments, in turn, have increased, tying up more renter income and cutting into savings that would typically go toward actually purchasing a home.”
The verdict is in: No matter where you live, the rental market is getting more competitive. So what does that mean for property management companies? It means that customer service becomes a strong differentiator.
When we do business with an e-tailer, insurance agent or mobile phone company, we all expect good customer service. In fact, a company’s ability to deliver excellent customer service is increasingly becoming a source of competitive advantage. Property management companies are no different.
Not only does customer service help attract and retain good tenants, but also it increases the odds of collecting rent on time, improving your bottom line.
Three (Not So) Simple Secrets
Here are three simple secrets to help you deliver outstanding customer service:
- Understand your tenants’ needs.
Delivering on your promise is a good start. But great customer service goes one step further; it involves knowing your customers well enough to anticipate their needs, not just react to them. If you want to exceed tenant expectations, consider their customer experience touchpoints. These could include:
- First contact
- Lease application
- Moving in
- Monthly rental notices
- Service requests
How can each one represent an opportunity to provide a better customer service experience? What are your tenants’ needs at every point, and how do they prefer to conduct transactions?
By providing convenient options like easy online applications, or a welcome package that includes information about the building and nearby amenities, you can do a lot to make tenants feel happy about their interaction with your property management company.
- Pay prompt attention to issues.
Dripping faucet? Air conditioner unit that generates more noise than cooling action? Dryer that gets clothes only half-dry? Tenants can quickly become dissatisfied if they feel that their maintenance requests aren’t being responded to – properly and promptly.
Managers need to be aware of the status of maintenance requests and respond quickly. When coordinating multiple rental sites, not to mention a slew of equipment, a large staff and a revolving door of contractors, it can be a real challenge to coordinate work orders.
New web-based solutions allow property managers as well as tenants to track service requests, get status updates and facilitate automated notices and follow-up reviews.
- Ask for feedback.
As noted above, property managers need to follow up on maintenance requests to ensure that each one is handled to the tenant’s satisfaction. But that isn’t the only way to get a pulse on customer service. Once a year, it’s a good idea to use a community portal to solicit feedback on how you’re doing overall.
You can also use a community portal as a web-based suggestion box so tenants can provide ongoing feedback whenever they have something to share. (Of course you need to respond to tenants’ comments and suggestions).
Customer Service, Simplified
There you have it: three simple secrets to keeping tenants happy. But with the constant and varied demands of property management, it isn’t always so simple to consistently follow through on those secrets. So what’s the answer?
The best customer service happens when your tenant doesn’t need to call you at all – everything just works easily for them. And that, in turn, makes things easier for you. When you take care of your tenants, you’ll benefit from reduced turnover, and fewer disputes over issues that can get in the way of timely rent payment.
PropertyVista can help you address maintenance needs faster, improve your tenant communications and offer easy online payments. We offer scalable software that can be easily and painlessly implemented across multiple properties.
To discover how PropertyVista can work with you to streamline your operations, sign up for your free account today.