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All that glitters is not gold...Or Platinum!

resortHave you ever heard this saying?  It strikes a real chord with me after a recent vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.  All inclusive has some real and clear benefits, but what happens when all-inclusive removes the incentive for great customer service?  As you would expect, the photos of our resort online were amazing!  I perused through them picturing myself and my family in each of the settings.  On the private “Platinum Beach”, relaxing on the luxurious chaise lounges, while sipping a tropical adult beverage, gazing upon the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, reading a book I have been waiting to have the time to read…not a care in the world, not a bother from the outside world, just pure bliss!  Floating in one of 12 sparkling pools, wading up to the swim up bar for another one of those tropical umbrella drinks.  Dining in style at one of the many restaurants situated throughout the resort.  The pictures on the Website took me right to this oasis!  The rooms pictured were pristine, shiny and clean with the perfect appointments to make the accommodations beyond my expectations.  Pictured was a private outdoor hot tub on the balconies of only those who paid the extra to be upgraded to the “Platinum Suites.”  Along with this “Platinum” privilege came our very own swimming pool, lobby with private concierge, private beach, and that all important “Ocean View” that my travel agent promised.  As I did my homework and researched the perfect resort for me and my family,......
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What Multifamily Can Learn From Zappos

What Multifamily Can Learn From Zappos
Before my team and I left the NAA Student Housing conference, I wanted to come up with a great team building exercise. I’m big on culture and we were in Las Vegas...so I booked a tour and a Q&A session with Zappos! Here’s what we learned:   Don’t just sell customer service, LIVE it. Zappos will tell you all day long that they don’t sell shoes. I disagree, but I understand their point. They will tell you they sell customer service. What’s really amazing is they don’t have a customer-first mentality. It’s actually culture first. They believe if the culture is right, their employees will want to work there, and the people that work there will want to provide excellent customer service. That’s a lot of faith in people (and it’s paid off)!     “Structure” isn’t what holds a company together. Culture is. Zappos isn’t afraid to try things that are unique. Tony, the CEO, sits among others in a cubicle and openly promotes his horizontal org chart. Honestly, I thought I’d see total chaos during the tour. Don’t get me wrong—it was similar to a zoo and felt like a party—but a lot of work was getting done. The lack of structure and policies would drive most managers I know a bit crazy. But this place? They were thriving on it. And that made me think. What if we stopped selling amenities and apartments and started selling customer service? Make everyone who calls, chats, emails or texts in the most important person in the worl......
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#SociallyAcceptableBehavior

#SociallyAcceptableBehavior
Don’t you just love Twitter? With a simple hashtag, you can tell the whole world exactly how you feel! What about Facebook? All you do is post on a company’s wall and WHAM! Message received. Remember those pesky days of phone calls and emails? All the searching for the correct contact information, all the time spent explaining your issue, all the waiting… And for what? For only one person to hear your story!? Well, the game has changed. We are now able to rant about our customer service concerns to our friends, family and complete strangers with just 140 characters in a blink of an eye thanks to social media. Every conversation that was once personal now has the potential to go public. How do I feel about my co-worker's quest to determine the level at which he is appreciated? (It gets better, @goggleboy. You'll always have #unicorns.) It's too much information, but the reality is that I still care... We all care. In this day and age, we can’t always control what is being said about our brands and where it's being said. As customer service representatives and marketing professionals, we have no choice but to join the conversation.  However, by following just a couple simple guidelines, you have the opportunity to convert almost any “@” into an opportunity to shine. 1. Elevate the positivity This should be done for all mentions, positive or negative. A positive comment from a customer is a golden opportunity to spin a marketing message. Example: Customer says: “@Gothamcityapartments- I love the online servic......
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If You're Happy and You Know It...Tell Your Face!

If You're Happy and You Know It...Tell Your Face!
I visited a luxury apartment community to have lunch with a friend the other day and was greeted at the front desk by someone who had this look on her face:       Yep. Just like that.    I had hopes that when she opened her mouth the experience would be different. Nope.    I don’t think she could have looked any more disinterested, ticked off, upset, bored, “over it!” and whatever other adjective you can think of to describe someone who clearly did not want to be there at that desk. Unfortunately for this community this person is the FIRST thing everyone walking into the community sees and interacts with.    Ouch.    As soon as we left the office I turned to my friend and said, “What’s the deal with her?”    It’s Not Easy!   Listen, I worked onsite for many years. If you’ve been to one of my training seminars you’ve heard me vent about my many experiences behind the desk. So I know that sitting behind the desk, answering endless phone calls, having to take service requests, watching a resident drink his 4th cup of coffee while he complains to you that you don’t have French Vanilla creamer, and then the phone rings again and again, isn’t easy. It isn’t easy.    So, what are you going to do with it not being easy? Are you going to be like the young woman I encountered at the community, who looked like she was being held against her will behind......
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Give 'em some sugar

I am planning an 8 hour flight to Europe.  As many of you know I have a 3-year old, who is awesome, but she is still a 3-year old, so the planning that has to happen before we embark on this adventure which is truly a 16 hour flight (round trip) is extensive.  I also have an amazing supportive partner who is not a fan of flying so add to my drama (I digress).  So in planning for this adventure I have loaded up on sleep pillows, compact games and books for the little one and a eye mask - which leads me to this posting.  I ordered the eye mask (along with a few other goodies), and sat and waited for the much anticipated, "we've shipped your order' email that Amazon suppliers provide.  So, 2 days after the order placement it arrives and how surprised and excited I was to get a little bit of sugar with my order!  Below is the email: Your Sleep Mask order has just been shipped as you asked.   I think you will love it. When you receive it, please pay attention to the instructions for use.  It works by far the best if you flip the nose flap inwards and upwards. We provide a full satisfaction guarantee.  If you have any concerns with delivery or with the Sleep Mask itself after you get it, please let me know, and I will ensure it gets handled. I have attached a bonus eBook - Sleep Naturally......
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The Death of My Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich Ritual

I’m not a slave to ritual or routine, but the one exception to this was my weekly indulgence: a trip to a local diner for a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. Every week, (provided I went to the gym and did enough cardio to offset the calories!), I would go to this particular diner, sit at the counter and do my, “When Harry Met Sally” routine. In my case, the eggs have to be scrambled, the bacon well done and it has to be served on a Kaiser roll. After all, if we are going to overindulge, don’t we want it our way? Over the summer, they got a new chef and things started to slip. First, they started crumbling the bacon into the egg sandwich. One week, the bacon came out very undercooked. But this week was the last straw. They raised the price by 25% and started including home fries. But this wasn’t a big deal. I can live with the $1.50 increase and ask them to just leave the home fries off the plate (because otherwise I would just eat them all up, not exactly what I need in addition to the sandwich). Second, the egg was a little undercooked, which made part of the roll mushy, and some of the bacon wasn’t well done. Still easily managed. I could just send it back next time. However, the final straw was that they started using a different vendor for the rolls, which are now tasteless and doughy and render that......
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Forget Bruno Mars, You Can Count on ME!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Garlic-Bunches.jpg"I need to speak with Angela," exclaims Tiffany Smith. "Angela's out on the property right now, but I'm happy to help you. What may I do for you?" Carla smiles patiently. "I don't know. My neighbor is certifiable with this obsessive paranoia about vampire-infestation. My apartment reeks of garlic and the tin foil structures are freaking my kids out." Blank stare from Carla. "Why does your apartment smell like garlic?" Tiffany fights back her mounting waves of frustration.  -   -   -   When it comes to customer service, it is critical that each team member is ready, willing and able to assist any resident or prospect who stops by. However, when it comes to exceptional customer service, it is critical to acknowledge and support those individuals who are the residents' "Go-to' people.  We've all been there. We call the customer service number, select the proper series of numbers to get to what we believe is the correct department, relay our problem to the customer service representative, are told that's not their department but they'll be glad to transfer us to the appropriate department, which unfortunately has no notes of the explanation we just provided, and therefore we must go through it all over again. It's frustrating and it wastes a lot of time.  How great it is, though, when I call up my service provider, ask for my "Go-To Guy/Gal" and am able to give them the Cliff's Notes version of the situation, and without skipping a beat, they a......
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How to Be There for Millennials (& other always-on, mobile consumers)

How to Be There for Millennials (& other always-on, mobile consumers)
Every day there’s another article or study about mobile use increasing or some fabulous new technology that makes our personal or business lives easier. Some property management companies say 30-40% of their online traffic comes from mobile devices already (not surprising when you consider that millennials make up a large part of the multifamily market).  But we can’t forget this point: It’s not just the technology that matters; it’s the experience (and people) behind it.  Knock, Knock...Who’s There? Let’s assume you have a mobile-friendly site or app. That’s just the first step. About 73% of mobile users contacted someone to view an apartment based on their online mobile search. What happens next can build loyalty—or frustration—and that online experience can color how the consumer thinks she’ll be treated as a resident, especially if she’s a millennial.  For example, if I can easily ask questions and get a response, I’m more likely to remember a company as helpful, attentive and trustworthy. On the other hand, clunky online processes and slow responses are frustrating and can leave an impression of unfriendliness or unprofessionalism.  The problem is, as always, time. We have precious little of that in this industry, yet some properties have figured out how to be there for the always-on consumer...without time-traveling (so far as I know). Marry Virtual Backup to Your Mobile Tech Some properties offer mobile text or live chat as ways for prospects/residents to get real-time help from the leasing or management teams, right from their websites or property listings. Those who nee......
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Are You Creating a Great Customer Experience?

Are You Creating a Great Customer Experience?
As a corporate speaker and trainer I am often asked by my clients if I have any specific needs or requirements when I am invited to speak at an event. My typical answer is usually something like this…   “I really don’t have any specific requirements, I’m pretty easy-going. The only thing that I must have when I speak are Pellegrino and only green M&M’s.”   I like doing this because it tends to break the ice, it helps my clients see that I do have a personality and hopefully reinforces the idea that we’ll enjoy working together. The line usually gets a laugh from my clients … well, once they realize that I really am not some sort of “divo” (Is that even the word for a guy diva??) and the conversation moves forward.   My Gift   Recently I did a speaking engagement in Atlantic City, New Jersey for an incredible company as part of their annual employee conference. After I finished the presentation the president of the company thanked me for speaking and handed me a gift bag. When I went back to my hotel room, I opened the gift bag and found …    You guessed it! A bottle of Pellegrino and green M&M’s.    I immediately started laughing. I couldn’t believe that Mary (the person at the company who invited me to speak and who put the conference together) actually remembered that I said that and then went through the effort of buying the Pellegrino and an entire bag of green M&......
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The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction

The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction
Prospective renters that come to your multifamily property always have that set of requirements they make their decision on. Which properties they actually choose to tour depend on your online presence of the property (Yelp, photos, Google Maps) and most importantly, that call they make to a leasing agent. There’s always a chance, regardless of the quality of a property, that they may see something that worries them, whether it be a bad yelp review, not being budget friendly or weariness about the location of the property. Put your renters’ minds at ease by reminding them of the 3 S’s that stand out at your property: Safety A frequent question prospective renters have on the phone is whether or not the property is safe. If the renter is new to town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, they could make the mistake of getting fooled by the website without knowing community issues. You’re not in the business of fooling. No matter where your property is located, always make sure to take the time to explore every avenue of your property that could be a safety risk. Important safety features that many updated properties feature include gated parking with remote access and key fob access to buildings, pools and gyms. But it’s what your property is doing that no one else does that sets you apart, and makes the renter choose you. Offer them a number of an on-call security guard that can walk them to their car if they feel unsafe at night. An......
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