While there are many aspects that go into great customer service for property management, one of the most critical is also often the most overlooked: maintaining communication.
Communication between landlords and tenants is a relationship that goes both ways. Tenants need landlords who are honest and upfront about property issues, while landlords need renters who are responsive and communicative about their needs and concerns.
This process should begin when the lease is signed, starting with the landlord clearly stating tenant expectations while also providing direct ways to report maintenance issues and complaints. Your tenant service centre is an integral part of this process and should make reporting issues as simple as possible. Landlords depend on that feedback to fix problems and increase the value of their property, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure the lines of communication are as streamlined as they can be.
Renters Want Help — Now
From the get-go, a common bottleneck that can appear for tenant complaints is the inability of landlords to handle the volume of reported issues. Considering the findings of Parature’s 2014 Customer Service Report, which showed that the number one aspect of good customer service was quick problem resolution, an inability to handle your call volume reflects poorly on your tenant support team. This poses a serious challenge for properties that don’t have the developed infrastructure to handle a large number of calls at once.
And if you thought customers were impatient with slow responses to malfunctioning mobile phones, just wait until you hear from tenants that have broken air conditioning in the summer or a leaky roof during a rainstorm. Things can turn ugly fast.
Future Tech for the Problems of Today
Fortunately, your organization can save the day by providing both the infrastructure necessary to handle large call volume as well as up-to-date technology that streamlines the customer service process.
A third-party contact centre can help by providing an experienced team of customer service representatives that are more easily accessible than property managers, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Ideally, live agents should be available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, but many tenant support operations don’t have staff on hand with that kind of availability. A third party customer service provider can staff your tenant support centre when you’re staff is off-the-clock, making sure that your tenants are never without the assistance of a professional, live service expert.
Part of improving communication is giving renters the options to reach out on channels that they’re comfortable with, and according to J.D Power and Associates Social Benchmark Study, twice as many consumers in the 18 to 29 age range use a brand’s social media page for customer service purposes rather than buying.
Consider the following: rental property growth has recently been on the rise, increasing more after the turn of the millennium than it has in the past 50 years, according to a 2013 Housing Markets and Needs Report. The demographic most representative of this shift towards rentals were people in the 25 to 39 age range — a very similar demographic to the age group that makes up the majority of social network users, as described by the 2015 eMarketer’s Digital Media Usage report.
How does this translate to better service for your tenant support operation? It may mean that the answer to providing more diverse service and improving communication will come in the form of solutions that are targeted at the large overlapping user base of renters who use social media.
Many rental properties are already utilizing this knowledge by encouraging feedback on their social media pages, but take it a step further. By applying customer service initiatives to popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram, your organization can provide an outlet for problem resolution, gather feedback, and diversify the outreach of your service. It also allows for more visible communication and improves traceability, making it easy to follow up with renters to see if their problems have been resolved effectively.
Communication is essential to both customer service and improving the relationship between the renter and property owner. And at the end of the day, that’s what customer service is all about — problem resolution to facilitate positive interactions between two parties. It’s your job to manage this interaction by providing outreach that streamlines communication through technological solutions, multiple outreach channels, and problem solving that creates a better overall renter experience.