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Small Talk, Dirt, and Seagulls: A CRM Story

As level-headed mature adults (or so we hope), we’ve all been well versed on what conversations are all-around “safe” topics. Pets, traffic, food, the weather—all generally pretty dependable for drama-free, low-risk chitter chatter. They’re your guideposts when there’s a need to look socially competent, without requiring a terrible amount of creativity or concentration. In fact, a person who chooses to display any form of strong emotion during an episode of small talk is generally despised.

Within the vast sphere conventional corporate America, customer relationship management (CRM) is another topic that is highly prevalent, granted little consequence, and in many circumstances, can be painfully dull. But the thing is, we’ve got to know this stuff. Effectively managing client interactions can make or break your company—just ask Zappos.

CRM is all about systems which enable organizations to manage, analyze, and optimize their (potential) clientele. So in the multifamily industry, that’s going to be new and existing leads from any variety of marketing techniques (e.g., signage, guest cards, phone calls, police scanners), along with currents residents, who are continually evaluating the subsistence of their present residence; and then guiding the customer lifecycle from pre-conception to maturity, as well as observing performance and broader trends across any number of channels.

It’s like a jolly gardener sifting his dirt from the other dirt: he gingerly lifts a scoop of heterogeneous clumps and patiently filters them into a large pile of rich nutrients, which will be used to help provide life to a leafy plant organism.



Unfortunately, for many people their conception of CRM looks more like this:

Well-executed CRM increases the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations, while empowering personnel to meet the needs of prospects more quickly and personably. Historically the largest providers of this technology have been salesforce.com and Oracle, which is actually the 3rd largest software company in the world. In contrast, salesforce.com claims to be the “anti-software” and was one of the first companies to introduce software as a service (SaaS) in which users access centrally managed applications on web browsers through cloud computing. But what I enjoy most about these two rivals is the fact that their respective headquarters lie on opposite ends of the San Francisco Bay, so I like to imagine that the bulk of their meetings are spent plotting covert naval attacks against one another, with heavy involvement from area wildlife (the military prowess of seagulls is vastly underrated).

Multifamily companies have often developed systems to incorporate salesforce.com and other such business software into their resident and lead managment. But the problem is that the technology needs of our industry are too specialized and unique to be fulfilled by mainstream providers. All the different schedulers and auto-responders that are best practices for move-in, move-out, renewals, etc, simply don’t hold much of an interest for a big name CRM developer.

In order to achieve an efficient workflow, a quick response time, and a streamlined lead conversion, property managers need technology that understands the nuances of the rent cycle. Jolly gardener doesn’t scoop his dirt with a backhoe; multifamily properties shouldn’t manage leads with a big-box CRM provider.

For more, check out Part 2 on propertysolutions.com/blog.

 

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