Real estate is a business built on relationships. Whether you’re selling homes or handling property management, offering a great customer experience is what will help you win the trust of your owners and tenants.
The equation is simple:
Better customer service = happier customers = a greater chance of achieving profitability as an agency.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to getting customer experience in real estate right, we’re here to help. We’re running you through why customer service should be your priority, the state of customer service in the industry, the warning signs to look out for, and our insider tips on how to elevate your customer experience.
What is the state of customer experience in property management?
The property management industry faces a lot of challenges.
The 2021 MRI Voice of the Property Manager Report uncovered these alarming trends from professionals in our industry:
- Increases in customer conflict: According to 60% of property managers, dealing with aggressive or abusive tenants and landlords is the biggest challenge they face.
- Knowledge and training gaps: The number of property managers who feel they are adequately trained to perform their role has fallen to just 34%.
- Mental health challenges: 53% of property managers have trouble switching off after work due to the 'always on' culture of the industry.
- Growing workload: Property managers with rent rolls of more than 200 properties are twice as likely to say their role is excessively busy.
Since Covid, 30% of property managers have left the industry with a further 26% planning on leaving this year. It’s often become the case that just two or three property managers oversee up to 400 properties on a rent roll.
It’s not hard to see how this has led to strained relationships with customers.
The expectations customers have of a property management service is also increasing, creating added pressure for property managers to keep up. Here are just a few examples:
- High level of customization: Customers may have very specific requirements and expectations for their property management services, which can be difficult to meet if they are outside the scope of your agency's standard offerings. Providing a high level of customization can also be time-consuming and require additional resources.
- Multiple communication channels: Customers may expect to be able to communicate with their property management agency through a variety of channels, such as phone, email, or text message. While providing multiple channels of communication can be helpful, it can also lead to increased communication overhead, and make it harder for an agency to manage customer expectations.
- High-tech features: With advancements in prop tech, customers may expect their property management agency to provide services such as online rent payment, digital lease signing, and 24/7 access to their account information. While offering these features can be convenient for customers, it can be expensive for an agency to implement and maintain.
- Personalized attention: Regular check-ins or in-person meetings is often a customer expectation. Even though personalized attention can strengthen customer relationships, it can also take up a lot of time, energy and resources depending on the size of your rent roll and available staff.
Why is customer experience important in property management?
Prioritizing great customer service doesn’t just make your owners and tenants happy - it is essential for building a profitable rent roll.
Here are our top reasons why agencies should prioritize customer experience:
- Reduce the chance of vacancy: A tenant that has had a positive experience, particularly with timely repairs and maintenance, is far likelier to renew their lease when the time comes.
- Avoid misunderstandings: A trusting relationship between you and your customers helps reduce tensions and misunderstandings if a tough situation does arise.
- Lower rent roll churn: Agencies delivering good customer service have growing rent rolls, happy property investors and long-lasting customers.
- Boost the chance of referrals: Customers who are happy with your agency's services are often happy to refer you to family, friends or colleagues - organic marketing at its best!
Warning signs of customer service issues in property management
Once a customer complains about an issue, it can be easy to fix it, but once a customer relationship has been broken, it's hard to repair. So how do you get ahead of a problem you don’t even know about? By knowing what to look out for - and fixing it ASAP!
Here are some of the most common indicators for agencies that customer service issues might be lurking around the corner:
- High employee turnover: Less staff means higher workloads for existing team members, which can directly affect the quality of customer service they are able to provide.
- Lack of customer feedback: If you’re not actively seeking out customer opinions and suggestions, you may be missing out on identifying crucial issues. If your customers do not feel comfortable providing feedback, this could also suggest a lack of trust in your services.
- Inadequate resources: Outdated technology, low staffing or insufficient training can suggest that your customers aren’t receiving the best quality of customer service. Slow response times, costly mistakes and inconsistent service can be the result.
- Lack of clear policies and procedures: If you don’t have clear policies, procedures, training and guidance systems in place when it comes to handling customer service, it can lead to a lot of confusion, miscommunication, and inconsistencies.
- Lack of communication: Poor communication habits between departments or between team members will ultimately impact your customers. Vital information may not be shared with the right people at the right time, which could cost an agency more than just an unhappy customer.
Tips for great customer experiences in property management
The key to elevating your customers' experience is understanding what a good CX looks like and finding the right systems, processes and structures to help you create it.
Adding these features to the rent roll experience will be appreciated by your customers:
- Streamline your communications: Try using one centralized form of communication to interact with your owners and tenants. At :Different, we use our Owner and Tenant Apps to keep a running record of the conversations we have with our customers. This has helped us address our customers issues better and sped up our response times.
- Get repairs sorted quickly: Maintenance is a top priority for both owners and tenants. By having a streamlined system in place, you can approve repair requests, assign tradies and get issues resolved sooner (often at a lower cost for your owners, too).
- Be proactive about keeping your customers in the loop: Giving your customers frequent updates on what’s happening with their property is a sure-fire way to win their trust. It’s why we use real-time status updates in our customer apps to make sure everyone is in the loop every step of the way.
- Focus on adding value to your customer relationships: Think about simple but meaningful ways to go above and beyond for your customers. Whether it’s recommending rental adjustments ahead of lease renewals or providing detailed reports following a routine inspection. These extra steps will help you build genuine, not transactional, relationships.
- Harness tech to digitalize your operations: From signing rental agreements online to approving maintenance requests through apps, upgrading your tech to be purpose-built for property management can give your customers a quality experience.
Always remember, the happier your customers are, the less likely they are to take their business elsewhere and more likely to help grow your business through referrals.
If you’re ready to boost your customer experience, gain the best talent in the industry and support your team to work at their best, we’ve built the first, truly all-in-one property management solution for agencies based on our own experience in the real estate industry.
Book a free demo of :Different for Agencies and find out how we can help you make your customers happier!
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