The Heartbeat of Property Management: Customer Service
Updated: Oct 31, 2020
Throughout my 15 years of property management experience, I have seen numerous tenants come and go. It's been a spectrum of company types, sizes, and cultures. Although these tenants differ, their primary reason for moving other than financial, is poor customer service.
In the world of property management, your tenants are your customers. According to Kingsley Associates Annual Satisfaction Assessment, "satisfied tenants are three and a half times more likely to renew their lease." (The BOMA Magazine, March/April 2012, p.38).
There is so much talk about excellent customer service, but what does it look like? In short, superb client relations involve being friendly and available. Let's break down these essential areas:
Outlook and Professionalism
Having a positive attitude means everything to the customer. Interactions with an optimistic appeal can set the tone for communication. We have all dealt with difficult people, but it will serve you well to stay professional. Don't view yourself as a punching bag, but let clients vent if necessary.
When I ran my customer service associate program at the DC Visitor Center, I would always tell my students to smile and be solution-oriented when speaking with demanding customers. Even if someone is irritated with you, keep a positive attitude. Through this practice, I've found it's typically hard for people to continue to be angry if you focus on deescalating and then solving their problem.
Who is your customer?
Getting to know your clients can help determine what their needs are and what is important to them. Are they sports fans, animal lovers, golfers, foodies, techies, music lovers? Find out and be curious about your conversations with them. Ask questions that prompt them to tell you more about who they are.
Additionally, in a commercial setting, it's essential to know who the executives are in the offices you manage, but it is equally important for you to know the front-line staff such as the receptionists, office managers, and administrators. The front-line staff are the people you will have daily contact with and who are close to the executives. These connections can help make or break your ties with the organization. Get to know them and treat them the same way you would handle the person signing the rent checks.
Responding to emails/phone calls timely shows the customer you value and care about their needs. On the flip side, nothing says, "I don't care about you" more than not responding timely or not responding at all.
Periodically reach out to your customer to see how things are going. This is important because if they only hear from you when there are problems, they will automatically associate issues with you.
People are loyal by nature. So, if you develop a strong professional relationship, your customers are more likely to be understanding when things go wrong. Think about a time you when you had a waiter that ignored your table, or a time when customer service representative seemed to be dismissive to your needs. That sort of treatment doesn't feel very good when its coming from someone who is supposed to be helping you. The actions of that one person can make you completely write off an entire company.
Remember, your customers are the lifeblood of your business, and the only reason you are able to make money. They have to be treated with the utmost respect. You are their go-to problem solver for everything concerning their home or their workspace. How they view you and your level of service is imperative to the success of your business.