We are officially in the age of the customer. Why’s that? In the tech industry there are two things that you can count on when you build a great product: your competitors will (eventually) catch up with you and someone will come in at the bottom and disrupt price. Apple is no longer the only company out there that builds a “cool” smartphone. The same is true for multifamily housing—a new development rolls in and suddenly your community is no longer the only good option in town.
Now, more than ever, customers are empowered and informed by a little thing called the internet... A potential resident knows everything about your property before they even think about filling out an application. They've seen your ratings and reviews on Google and Yelp. You can bet they've also Facebook-stalked your property to get an idea of what their future apartment and community looks like. I’m not joking—they know everything.
This is why “customer experience” has become the sexy new term in the SaaS industry, and it's why “resident experience” or “RX” will have the same appeal in the multi-housing industry. Resident Experience (RX for short) is the sum of all experiences that your residents have with a community throughout the duration of their relationship with that community. Notice I didn’t say, “throughout the duration of their lease” — the RX begins long before residents sign their lease.
Additionally, the focus of RX is all about the customer’s perception of those experiences. It doesn’t matter how well you think you are doing something—it's how your residents interpret the community's actions.
Think about all of the different journeys or phases that your residents go through (...finding an apartment, the leasing process, maintaining their residence, etc.) and then break those journeys down into specific interactions and experiences (...the initial Google for an apartment, completing an online application, submitting a maintenance request, etc.). Chances are you'll generate a laundry list of resident interactions, and potential risks/opportunities you may not have considered before.
The RX you deduce from this list is a mixture of your operational performance, coupled with all of the emotions your residents experience as a customer. You then measure these experiences against their actual expectations. Needless to say, it's a challenge to define, but it’s unbelievably valuable. By defining and mapping the resident's journey, you'll have a clearer view of interactions and events that have a significant impact, and you can then focus on how to design and deliver the emotions that people remember and trust.
Has your company already defined your RX? If so, we would love to hear about it. What are some of the impactful experiences that you've identified as an area of focus? What value has it brought to residents and staff?
By: Blake Webster