From the Summit: Creating Efficiency with Contact Points

Now, perhaps more than ever, apartment owners and operators are seeking operational efficiencies.

Multiple motivations are fueling the trend. To start with, because of the amount of turnover at the property level today, onsite teams often are either short-handed or inexperienced. Using technology to reduce and streamline an associate’s workload can give them a much-needed hand. And by taking to-dos off associates’ plates, operators free them up to concentrate on the tasks that truly improve the prospect and resident experience.

In the 2023 Entrata Summit session Creating Efficiency with Contact Points, leaders from Mill Creek Residential discussed the array of benefits the company has experienced by implementing the solution.

According to Taryn Silva, Vice President of Learning and Development for Mill Creek’s Property Operations Division, the company turned to Contact Points in 2017 to optimize and automate communications with prospective renters and residents as the company dramatically expands its portfolio.

“To give you some perspective, at Mill Creek we have 87 operating communities today with over 20,000 homes, and we’re set to double in a couple of years,” Silva said. “It’s really important that we find ways to create efficiencies in our processes and products.”

Jen Nee, Digital Marketing Director at Mill Creek, said one of the technology’s valuable benefits is the instant responses it can provide to prospects and residents.

“We know that our customers and residents want to get that immediate acknowledgement or response to their inquiry,” she said. “If they put in a guest card via our website, we want them to know, ‘Hey, your lead didn’t go into the ether. We’ve received it, you’ve made a really great first choice and we’ll get back to you shortly.’ If you’ve scheduled a tour, ‘Hey, here’s your tour date and time.’ Who likes scheduling an appointment and then not knowing if it actually went through? And maintenance is a big one, too. When someone puts in a work order, we want to make sure they know we’ve received the order and are working on it.”

In addition, these lighting-quick responses allow team members time to craft thoughtful, personalized follow-ups, the panelists noted.

The session also outlined a number of recommendations for operators who are contemplating using Contact Points or are just beginning their implementation of the technology.

“Generally speaking, start small,” said Valerie Gibson, Director of Operations Support and Transitions at Mill Creek, noting there are 188 potential contact points across the prospect/resident lifecycle in the solution and that users should begin using just a few.

Operators should start by evaluating their most pressing communication needs, the panelists said. For instance, “you may find that you’re getting feedback in your online reviews and ratings that your communication around maintenance and service requests is bad,” Gibson said.

Among the panelists’ other recommendations: consider engaging an outside agency to design the emails distributed through the solution, enhance the technology’s efficiency by using merge fields and determine whether AI can be leveraged to optimize the content produced through Contact Points.

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