Last modified on January 10th, 2020
By Brittany Benz
Delivering outstanding customer experiences and instant service to renters is essential in today’s on-demand economy. Rapid innovations in the tech space with mobile apps, automation, and artificial intelligence are changing the way consumers interact with businesses. The world’s economy is shifting, along with the needs of the consumer. As a result, there’s a new, growing demand for instant service and information.
The Changing Tides of Property Management
When it comes to renting, residents are seeking companies that provide the same seamless experiences and personalized customer care they experience elsewhere. Which is why it’s essential for property managers to evolve to meet these demands in order to remain competitive and profitable in the marketplace.
Based on a report by AppFolio in partnership with John Burns Real Estate Consulting, the #1 goal for property management companies today is to deliver excellent service to customers. Findings also revealed that 69% of property managers agreed that establishing a service-oriented culture would have a positive impact on their business. However, a majority of businesses are not ready to fully deliver on this, as only 38% said they were prepared to actually do so.
The reason why property managers are struggling to meet the expectations of consumers is largely due to the fact that they don’t have the right tools. Hesitation to adopt modern technology in the real estate space has made it hard for businesses to operate at maximum efficiency and deliver the type of instant service customers desire. While this gap is a challenge, it also presents a great opportunity for your company.
Tips for Closing the Service Gap
Now is the time to embrace technology and get your business up to speed. Thanks to innovative solutions in property management software, it’s easier than you might think to adapt and evolve, all while building a seamless customer experience. Here are some ways you can revitalize your business processes and stay ahead of the curve:
1. Make a Better First Impression
The popular saying, “You only get one chance to make a great first impression” still reigns true today — especially in real estate. Prospective residents look to online services first when making a decision about where they want to live. One of the easiest ways to attract more customers is to post vacancies online. According to the 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report conducted by NMHC / Kingsley Associates, 72% of renters visited apartment listing sites like Apartments.com, Zillow, and HotPads when they were searching for their most recent apartment. By posting your vacancies to these sites, you can increase customer reach and engagement.
However, manually entering information can be tedious and lead to errors. Luckily, today’s technology enables one-click vacancy posting. This tool allows you to seamlessly manage vacancies across multiple third-party listing sites, which saves time and increases accuracy, resulting in a better customer experience.
Once a prospective renter sees your listing, the next step is to make sure they can easily book a time to come and see the property. Today’s renters lead busy lives and require flexibility when it comes to touring an apartment they’re interested in. For instance, 27% of renters said they would prefer a self-guided tour because they would be able to view the unit at their own pace. Modern tools — like online bookings, AI technology, and digital lock boxes — give renters the opportunity to self-serve, increasing customer satisfaction and business efficiency.
2. Modernize the Leasing Process
Ensuring a prospective renter has a seamless experience from start to finish means making sure your leasing and screening processes are also modernized. The days of asking renters to fill out paper applications and drop them off in-person are over. With online rental applications, the prospective resident simply fills out the application and pays the fee via credit card, saving your team time and eliminating the error-prone process of manual entry.
In addition to online applications, you can utilize instant tenant screening for credit, eviction, and criminal reports. If the prospective renter meets your screening criteria, you will receive the “approved” decision, so you can move on to issuing the lease. Luckily, the majority of tenants today are already comfortable with signing a lease online. For example, 54% of renters used a computer to sign their current lease. The online lease feature also allows for customization and e-signing, so your applicant can complete the transaction with the swipe of a finger.
3. Elevate the Resident Experience
Another way to drive efficiency and improve the customer experience is to offer digital services to residents — like online payments and maintenance requests. These days consumers expect to be able to pay for everything online, from their doctor’s visit to their electric bill. For instance, only 7% of renters would prefer to pay their rent with a paper check, while the remaining 93% would prefer any form of online payment. Allowing tenants to pay their rent online not only makes it more convenient for them, it also saves your team time, because they’ll no longer have to manually collect checks, enter data, and reconcile.
Along with rental payments, maintenance requests can also be moved online to streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction. Having to call to report an issue and follow-up can become a pain point for your residents and lead to negative reviews. Providing mobile access for them to submit their own maintenance requests gives both parties peace of mind knowing that the problem is being solved. Plus, it makes it easier for your team to keep track and update residents on the status.
Here’s a story about how one company benefited from adopting modern services for their residents:
Are you equipped to meet the new demands of the tech-forward marketplace? With the right technology you can attract, qualify, and engage residents throughout the entire leasing flow. For an in-depth look on more ways to improve your customer experience, take a look at this guide, “How to Deliver Excellent Service to Residents in the On-Demand Economy.”