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Service Requests: The Ultimate Teambuilding Exercise

Service Requests: The Ultimate Teambuilding Exercise

Residents are expected to pay 100% of their rent, yet at times do not have 100% access to everything they pay for.  Consider this scenario:

Toni has discovered that her dishwasher is broken.  She immediately contacts the office to alert them of the trouble.  Later that evening, Toni returns home from work, to find her dishwasher has not been repaired.  With a full load of dishes and an inoperable dishwasher, Toni is forced to hand wash them.  She’s hand washing the dishes while standing next to a dishwasher that she pays for, but is unable to use.

The surveys we conduct for completed service requests are not a reflection of how well or poorly the maintenance team performs.  Our Work Order survey is not a maintenance survey – it’s a teamwork survey.  The results point to one important question: When something goes wrong in a resident’s apartment home, how well does the team work together to get the issue resolved?  These key questions in the survey speak directly to teamwork.

  • The office response to the request for service
  • The overall speed of the service request
  • Was the maintenance team courteous and professional
  • Did the maintenance staff clean up before they left your home
  • Quality of the work done
  • Was the request completed on the first visit
  • Were you notified of a delay
  • Did you receive a follow up call after the work was completed
  • Do problems still exist

Both the office and maintenance teams share the burden when it comes to service requests.  In my opinion the office team sets the maintenance team up for success.  Something as seemingly benign as writing down requests on a notepad or sticky-note or stock piling requests and then entering them all at once can have a huge impact on the process.

Imagine you are a Service Tech and throughout the day you stop by the office to check your inbox for new requests.  First stop at 10am – no tickets.  Second stop before lunch – no tickets.  Third stop after lunch – no tickets.  Fourth stop at 2pm – 5 tickets.  Fifth stop at 4pm – 8 tickets!  Who can possibly resolve 8 tickets before the end of the business day?

And with 8 tickets and one hour to complete them all, how courteous and professional do you think the Service Technician will be with they enter the apartment home?  And if they are racing to complete the request, they may not worry about cleanliness, quality and attention to detail.  And unfortunately, some residents will not receive a same day completion.

Getting hit with a bulk of requests at the end of the day will also surely impact team communication.  A Service Technician may choose not to alert the office about any delays or incomplete requests if s/he is frustrated by receiving an overload of requests late in the day.  So if the maintenance and office teams are not communicating, who’s going to notify the resident of the delay?

The one question on the survey which has the greatest impact on all the others relates to speed.  Residents start the clock the moment they tell someone there’s a problem.  That could be by phone, email, portal, a note in the drop box or a casual mention to a team member while out and about the community.  The mental clock is ticking…and the clock does not stop until the problem no longer exists.  This question speaks to much more than the actual repair time.

It cannot be stressed enough the importance of entering in each ticket as they come into the office.  If a resident places a call for service at 10am but the ticket isn’t entered until 3pm, the team has essentially lost 5 hours in which that request could have been resolved.  That 10am ticket may not be resolved until the following business day, essentially a full 24 hours after the request was made.  In the mind of the resident, that could equate to 2 full days.  Here’s an example:

Mr. Jones places a request at 10am Monday morning, but it does not get entered into the system until 3pm Monday afternoon.  Maintenance is not made aware of the request until 4pm on Monday and therefore could not resolve it before leaving for the day.  The work order sits until Tuesday when it finally gets resolved sometime during that day.  Mr. Jones is at work when the request is completed and therefore does not realize the work was done until he returns home at 7pm Tuesday evening.  Start time: 10am Monday…Finish time: 7pm Tuesday.

1.6 million residents have determined that “Value for rent paid” is the #1 satisfaction driver.  Bottom line…residents have to have full access to everything they pay for.  A resident who has to hand wash dishes night after night, while waiting for their dishwasher to be repaired is seriously questioning the value of living at that community.  Out of order signs in the laundry room or fitness center and overflowing trash dumpsters impact a resident’s perception of value as well.  If residents are questioning “What exactly am I paying for?” or “Where is my money going?” their renewal decision may not swing in your favor.

Make service requests a hassle-free, one and done experience for your residents whenever possible.  Not only will they appreciate you for a job well done, your team will grow stronger in the areas of communication, professionalism and competence.



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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Making it easy for the resident to submit a service request is important, too. If the problem is small, the resident may not be moved to stop by the office or pick up the phone. With an easy-to-use website or smartphone app to log the issue the resident may be more likely to submit the request and alert managers before the small problem becomes big. Plus, it’s automatically entered into the system so no more sticky-notes!

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I agree that portals are a great benefit to residents - especially when it comes to service requests. Unfortunately, the majority of residents are unaware of the detail needed which results in requests such as "Toilet broken" or "Door won't close". We recommend that whenever teams encounter such vague requests, a call or email is placed to the resident to gather more information to help the Service Tech resolve the problem in a more timely manner. Another reason to operate as a well-oiled machine!

  Lia Nichole Smith
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Excellent, excellent points! Residents often don't understand the importance of timely submission, and unfortunately, even though they shouldn't have to, they often don't let anyone know that the service request was not attended to. I can tell you it sometimes happens that a work order is written up and maintenance turns it in as complete, but it isn't really. I know for many of our students, they don't respond always to our follow up and then come in a couple months later upset there is still a problem. Love the expected timeline - so TRUE!

  Mindy Sharp
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks Mindy - you make some great points! Residents will report the service issues that make their lives uncomfortable but often overlook little annoyances such as a running toilet. But for us, a running toilet is HUGE and can lead to expensive repairs if the office is not notified right away. On another note, if their experiences are based on delays, poor quality, etc., they may decide to forego telling the office because they just don't want to deal with us. If we make the service request process easy and hassle-free, residents are more apt to alerting us when there is a problem.

  Lia Nichole Smith

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