Last modified on October 2nd, 2018
By Alexis Hammond
It should come as no surprise that rental rate complaints are more prevalent than any other issue for apartment residents. Multifamily research firm, J Turner Research surveys show that property managers hear rate complaints three times more often than disturbance reports and rental rate issues are two times more likely to perturb tenants than loose pets and their owners who don’t deploy good pet-waste management habits.
Property managers who make on-site customer service a priority will position their properties to potentially gain more favorable online reviews and develop stronger community reputations.
Keep an Open Door Policy. While complaints about rental rates will probably always be among the top issues for tenants, how you respond makes a difference. Upgrading amenities, building relationships with renters and creating a higher perception of value often helps overcome rate objections.
Encouraging Community Support. Motivating non-compliant pet owners to pick up after their pets and obey leash laws is challenging at times. Writing a letter to community residents to explain the health hazards for two and four-legged residents often nudges owners to be more proactive. Keep it to the point, non-confrontational and sympathetic.
Responsive Maintenance Service. Quality and response time directly impact tenant satisfaction. To overcome poor performance that triggers complaints, train maintenance staff and department managers to communicate effectively with tenants. Early acknowledgement of a problem bolsters confidence. Encourage team members to upgrade their skills with company-sponsored workshops and vocational training. Finally, furnish the necessary tools to get the job done right – first time, every time. If necessary, replace off-site vendors with reputable service providers.
Engaged and Interested Staff. The quickest way to lose tenant confidence is with poorly organized, non-communicative staff members. Work with your technology partners to develop a training program that streamlines your daily workflow. Make sure all leasing agents and property team members understand the importance of not only what they say, but how they say it.
Perfectly Groomed and Well-maintained Common Areas. Residents are proud to invite family and friends to visit when your grounds are kept in tip-top condition.
As part of a thesis project, researcher Lisa Scarboro studied the relationship between tenant expectations, perceptions and mobility rates. Scarboro reported results of one survey that showed 100% of respondents admitted visual quality in property ads influenced their decisions. If a photographic image is that important to home selection – just imagine how critical it is to provide residents with outdoor spaces and common areas that increase perceived value.
Safety, Security, and Confidence. Adequate safety and security features are a must for improving customer service. Scheduling routine property inspections throughout the year to look for breaches in perimeter fencing, repair broken locks or gate latches, and replace non-working light bulbs is one way to improve tenant confidence. Tenants also look for functioning security systems and remote cameras, especially in parking areas.
Management Sets the Benchmarks. Overall customer service failure is resident complaint that signals the property needs an attitude adjustment – from the top down. While you can’t satisfy every customer, disgruntled residetns should be the oddity, not the norm.
If residents frequently voice concerns about team members’ behavior that reflects a general lack of interest, problems resolving maintenance and billing issues quickly or accessing online payment portals… chances are your property needs to take a fresh look at your customer service policies.