While most technology providers have an audience in mind when they develop the software, they might have been thinking about their audience in the wrong way.
Instead of defining an audience with an “either-or” mindset, multifamily operators should partner with technology providers that think about their audiences with a “yes, and…” approach. Since we often act as a middle person between our residents and our products and services, the technologies we use have a resident-facing frontend and an associate-facing backend.
Unfortunately, when technologies choose to focus on just one audience in multifamily, they create lopsided software which creates a fantastic experience for one of the audiences and frustrations for the other. The result is confusion, miscommunication and a lengthened process for both users.
Take resident portals for example. When a resident portal is designed well, it’s built in a way in which an associate can see everything that a resident sees. This enables an associate to help a less tech-savvy resident navigate the site easily. It also has an effective associate dashboard that makes it easy for the associate to review every resident’s information, setup new accounts and communicate with residents effectively.
Everyone Has Different Needs
Different departments will have a variety of needs, and the software you use has to be able to meet them all.
Accounting software integrated with your property management system is the biggest example. How a community manager uses the accounting software is much different from how the C-suite will need it to operate. The C-suite needs seamless visibility into numbers and the ability to integrate with the needs of investors. Onsite team members need it to be easy to view their performance, add new residents and correct errors as needed.
Software that’s developed for just one of these audiences, like the onsite team, will probably work really well for them. But it won’t be effective in reporting what’s happening onsite to the chief operating officer, who’s responsible for a hundred other properties. Without adequate visibility for the COO, software usage will be short lived.
You might want to utilize a software that works perfectly for you. But if it doesn’t work perfectly for all of the other departments in your organization, it’s doomed to land in the same pile as those thousands of apps you no longer use on your smartphone.
Collaboration equals success in property management.
Whether you’re in operations, leasing, maintenance, marketing, legal, finance, human resources or any other department, you know that most of your job requires collaboration with other departments. You can’t make most decisions without consulting some other department or at least communicating with them.
The right software makes communication between departments seamless – so seamless that you don’t even have to send a text or email. They simply see what’s happening when it happens. But the wrong software is only designed for one team.
Your maintenance team might know what work orders are scheduled to be completed today so they can get them done. But if your customer service team doesn’t know what’s being done, they can’t communicate to the resident when they ask when their work order is going to be completed. The customer service rep either has to call the maintenance team to find out or redirect the resident to call the maintenance team. That’s called the runaround, and no resident wants that experience.
No matter what department you work in, your software needs to be made with a focus on all audiences, not just the primary user or you might discover inefficiencies and inadequacies that render the software unusable. Technology that embraces the “and” will allow operators to increase efficiencies and provide a better user experience all around.