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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Your Residents Care More About Their Apartment Than You Do, and That Could be a Recipe for a Bad Customer Service

We often pride ourselves on how much blood, sweat, and tears we put into our jobs, doing our very best to create the best environment for our residents and prospects moving in.  And usually, more often than not, things flow smoothly without a hitch.  But sometimes something does go wrong, and when it does, one of the key elements to the resolution is whether the team can match how much the resident cares about the situation.

Let me illustrate:  I remember when I first started learning to drive, a white-knuckled experience where I was hyper focused on the task at hand.  Fast forward many years, and you'll find people who often take a lackadaisical approach to driving - they text while they drive, they daydream, they even read through their Facebook feed.  They have essentially become so experienced, or at least they think they have, that the job of driving has become "old hat" to them, and they may not take the job as seriously as they should.

This can also happen when working at an apartment community, no matter how much we care about our job.  We deal with hundreds of move-ins, service requests, minor emergencies, major emergencies, and who knows what else just to keep the community up and running.  When one deals with issues that many times, each new issue just doesn't seem as big of a deal as it might have when we were a green leasing consultant. 

But compare that to our residents.  They have exactly one apartment, which is also their home.  The home is supposed to be a safe cocoon that shields them from the outside world.  When chaos may run rampant in their lives, from relationship issues to job uncertainties, their home is their oasis from the storm.  Not only that, but their apartment is the largest expense they have in their life, making it the most crucial economic decision they make each year.  So when something happens with their apartment, their home, it is a unique situation dealing with something that is critically important to them.

So let's say they make a maintenance request that their heater is out.  You have dutifully passed it along to the maintenance team, and they are going to get there immediately after they fix the leak in apartment 212.  So from your perspective, the issue is in the works, and all will be fine.  But for them, they are sitting in their cold apartment, huddled under blankets, and watching the clock counting the minutes until they have heat again.  And that disconnect - the difference in perspectives - can lead to accidental bad customer service as your resident may not feel that you are doing enough to resolve their issue.

So to make sure that your response matches their concern, follow these guidelines:

Be Understanding - Try to remember that their emotional reaction to a situation may be greater than yours, so try to echo that level of concern back them, showing that you, too, deeply care about their problem. 

Communicate Expectations - Explain the process to the resident about what type of response they should expect

Be Proactive With Follow-up - Once you hear back from your maintenance technician about their process and timing, relay that information back to the resident.  A quick text explaining that your team is working on a leak and will get to the residents apartment immediately after will remove a lot of uncertainty from the equation.

Following these guidelines will help you not only provide good customer service, but also ease your residents' concerns when they run into an issue!

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