Let’s face it. Customer service is probably among the top five reasons that consumers are loyal to any business. In the rental industry, customer service starts before the tenant application is even started.

When prospects take the time to contact a rental property for more information, they’re looking for confirmation that property management values their time and patronage. Initially, prospects may request information about lease terms, availability or amenities. Often, prospects reach out to several properties at the same time. If your team doesn’t respond quickly, you may not get a second chance to build a relationship based on the initial inquiry.

Below are three tips to help increase property conversion rates.

#1 Understand Expectations

Although there isn’t a set time for a company to respond to an inquiry, customers expect a company to respond within a “reasonable” amount of time. Establishing a standard response time – and consistently applying your standard – goes a long way toward differentiating your property from the competition.

Poor response rates are a tale-tale sign that management isn’t setting a good example. If your team isn’t serious about responding to customers, it’s likely management has not conveyed the importance of connecting with customers in a timely manner and treating each customer with the utmost respect.

At the very least, consumers should receive an immediate confirmation that an inquiry has been received. The message should reflect a desire to provide timely, relevant answers as quickly as possible and should include an approximate time and method of follow-up. For example, the message may include office hours, some general information about the property and the name of a leasing agent who will follow up with more specific answers to the prospect’s questions.

#2 Recognize Social Significance

Businesses cannot afford to ignore the impact that social media plays on consumer expectations. While 24 hours was a reasonable response time a few years ago, the instant gratification nature of social networking sites has dramatically altered consumer expectations.

Ignite Social Media reported that “social customer service” has the potential to revolutionize the way that companies build brand loyalty. Ignite points out that it is important to respond to both positive and negative comments in order to build brand loyalty – resolving problems quickly and encouraging happy customers to keep sharing positive reviews.

Air France KLM sets a high benchmark for businesses across multiple industries to strive for. Based on Expion research, KLM responds to 92% of Facebook comments and has an average first response time to page inquiries of less than 30 minutes.

The take away for rental managers is to project a professional image 24/7 by actively engaging with customers on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites, as well as the company website.

#3 Engage Frontline Employees

Setting clear expectations for employees is critical. While small properties may not require a dedicated PR team to keep tenants and prospects happy, these organizations should not take a casual approach to customer service.

Increasing conversion rates is easier if your employees know what is expected and how to exceed those expectations. If your employees cannot answer the following questions, it’s time to revamp your training policy.

  • Who is responsible for responding to website and social inquiries?
  • How long should it take to respond to online inquiries?
  • What training resources are available to employees?
  • What is the company policy regarding problem resolution?
  • Is there a product/service policy manual and where is it located?

Property managers who know how to respond quickly, effectively and professionally to online inquiries and comments capture the competitive edge in the rental market. There’s a measurable connection between highly trained employees who respond quickly to inquiries and provide solutions to problems with accessible resources and positive conversion rates.