Providing customer service for renters is about more than problem resolution; it involves creating a unique renter experience aimed at improving the management/renter relationship.
How does customer service for rental properties differ from service for other businesses?
The short answer: It doesn’t.
Quality customer service follows basic principles no matter what industry you’re in — facilitating communication, dynamic problem resolution, and making your customers feel valued.
Having said that, it’s important to make note of what aspects of service renters value most. Generally speaking, these relate to how easily they can reach someone who can help, how long it takes to help, and being able to effectively communicate their experience.
The Value of Renter Service
Customer service is an essential part of making sure rental properties stay profitable. When renters aren’t happy, they’re more likely to ditch the property and head elsewhere, leaving you holding the bag with all of the associated costs of property turnover. This can get expensive — from inspecting the rentals, hiring handymen to make necessary maintenance and aesthetic fixes, advertising leasing with the new tenants, and managing utility transitions, it’s enough to put a serious dent in their bottom line.
Long-term tenants equal trust and steady revenue, and one of the easiest ways to keep them on board is to make sure their problem resolution needs are being met.
Your tenant service operation should add value to the renter’s experience, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is to increase the accessibility of service. This means giving your residents a way to receive help 24/7, 365 days a year — something hard to provide by a small property management team.
This is more than just having an answering machine take calls to be addressed in the morning. Truly effective customer service means having live agents available at a moment’s notice to handle problems that come up when we least expect them.
Knowing your market can also increase accessibility, as many renters in your property may not speak English as their primary language. Offering bilingual support in French or other relevant languages is an important way to improve the inclusiveness of your service and meet the needs of all your renters.
Speed of Service
Renter complaints often aren’t handled as quickly by property management as tenants would like. This isn’t too big of a surprise, as many rental agencies don’t have dedicated staff that handle customer service. This is where your organization can deliver a competitive edge.
According to Parature’s Connecting with Customers report, 82 percent of customers surveyed believed that speed of problem resolution was one of the most important aspects of good service. Your tenant support operation will already be increasing this by fielding the daily inquiries of the tenants, but you can also promote this initiative by diversifying the contact options for your tenants to include text, email, live chat, or even social media.
Customer service for renters differs a bit from the typical call centre customer format. Renters are the neighbours and community members of the landlords, and providing good service requires a comprehensive approach which builds that relationship and makes the renter feel valued by the property owner.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to follow-up after a problem has been resolved to touch base with the renter and make sure that they’re satisfied. This type of outreach can go a long way toward creating a positive experience for the renter; property owners that drop the ball on customer service create the impression that all they were interested in was signing the lease and making a sale — not something you want to be associated with.
Encouraging feedback from tenants is another great way to keep the lines of communication open and provide them value. Getting constructive feedback, even during move-out/exit surveys, on your policies and performance can improve your efficiency as well as help management stay ahead of small issues such as leaks or equipment malfunctioning.
A customer service report conducted by IQPC showed that nearly 80 percent of respondents believed that the contact centre helped define the customer experience. This holds particularly true for service provided on behalf of property management, as the landlord/renter relationship is an essential part of keeping rental properties profitable.
Your job is to enhance this relationship, which is most effectively done by providing service that facilitates communication between the two, increases the speed of problem resolution for renter complaints, and allows the tenants easier access to those who can help them.
These initiatives combined can increase the value of the property and enhance the renter experience all across the board.