Reducing Friction for Staff, Residents, & Processes

The resident doesn’t care how you decide to manage your operations as long as it works and doesn’t make their life any harder. The best way to tell if they’re working is if the resident doesn’t notice them at all and they’re able to go about their day without any additional impediments.

The goal of the property management software you adopt should be focused on two things.

  1. Making your on-site teams more efficient
  2. Improving the overall resident experience

These two goals go hand in hand. When technology makes your teams more efficient, it frees them up to focus more on positive interactions with residents, and technology that makes it seamless for residents to interact with management, access their apartment, and pay bills allows them to focus on living their best lives instead of solving problems. Throughout this section, we’ll highlight best practices for implementing technology and strategies that streamline the resident experience, create more efficient teams, and reduce friction for both.

Have an app or online portal to facilitate communication

The first step to improving the resident experience is deploying an app and online portal that acts as the hub for your properties. It’s where residents can come to learn about events at the property, access policies, view and pay rent, make service requests and communicate with management.

But because every resident is different, it's important to have a multi-faceted communication strategy that meets residents where they are. Some might want to engage with you in other ways (e.g., telephone, text, in person). While you encourage them to communicate via the app and portal whenever possible, you should make these channels available as well.

Other things to consider when communicating with your residents is that Gen Z often prefers visual communication. These can be things like sending a picture of something that has been fixed in their unit or giving them the ability to take a video tour of the residence instead of having to come on site.

When it comes to older residents, they are more likely to favor traditional means of communication. That doesn’t mean they won’t adopt your app, especially if you can show them how it will simplify their living experience.

Another benefit of implementing an app is it allows you to deliver a better access control experience. That’s because instead of using outdated key cards that can get broken or lost, you are enabling residents to gain access to their apartment using your property’s app. This saves site teams countless hours spent keying and rekeying cards while also preventing potential frustration the resident previously experienced when keys got lost or stolen. And if for whatever reason the resident isn’t able to gain access to their unit, this oftentimes can be resolved remotely by site staff.

In addition, if your property offers shared amenities that can be reserved or used by residents (like a clubhouse or a gym), site staff can easily grant access to those areas for as little or as long as you like by a simple push of the button in your property management system. The end result is a better experience for residents and more efficient teams on site.

Provide as many self service options as possible

If you want to eliminate friction for your residents, you should eliminate the go-between, which oftentimes is you, and let them handle as much as they want to on their own. Some of the most common tasks that are perfect for providing a self-serve option include:

  • Applying for and being approved for a lease
  • Paying rent
  • Making a service request
  • Viewing community events
  • Buying and selling items within the community
  • Setting up an account/secure login
  • Getting package notifications
  • Lease renewal process

When site teams aren’t having to focus on dealing with the day-to-day mundane tasks associated with property management, they have more time to focus on more important tasks that impact the quality of life for the entire community.

If you offer it, advertise it

We already touched on this in the previous section, but it bears repeating. Whatever self-service offerings you decide to provide to your residents should be promoted and advertised via all the channels you have at your disposal. Hang posters around the property, send emails, send texts, and most importantly put an announcement on the resident portal and send a push notification to the app. You want to make sure residents are well aware of all of the services and benefits that are available to them by living in your community.

Create a robust FAQ

While we’re still on the theme of self service, you should also develop a robust FAQ section that’s available on your website, in the app, and in the resident portal. You shouldn’t just limit it to frequently asked questions either. Try and think of any questions the resident might have for you and provide thorough documentation of the answer. This should be the first place residents turn if they have a question about the property.

Creating an FAQ should be an iterative process that you do once. When new questions come in that weren’t covered previously add them. This is a living document that should be used to make it as easy as possible for residents to get their questions answered.

Stay on top of your reputation

Both prospects and residents will keep tabs on your online reputation. Having a good reputation will attract new applicants and encourage current residents to stay longer. When it comes to differentiating your properties from the competition, this should be the starting point. If your online reputation is bad, all of the other efforts you’ve undertaken to stand out won’t matter. Applicants will move on to the next property.

Because of this you should be proactive about not only quickly responding and resolving negative reviews as they come in, but also seek out reviews from everyone who lives in one of your communities. If you’re putting forth the effort, most of your residents would be willing to leave you a positive review, as long as you make it easy for them to do so (i.e. providing a direct link to the review site you are looking to build a reputation on). You should also focus on the top 3-4 review sites in your area. Don’t put all of your review eggs in one place. Prospective renters are savvy and will seek multiple opinions.

In the event that you do receive negative feedback, respond quickly and directly via the same medium the feedback was received. Don’t let bad reviews sit for very long without a response. When you do respond you should apologize, provide a plan of action, and offer to take the conversation offline to resolve the issue. When you’re proactive and you show you care (and can resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner), the resident may edit their review to reflect this.

Building an online reputation can be difficult at first, but once you get the right processes and technology in place, it will take little to no effort on your part to maintain. But because it plays such a primary role in the decision making process, it should be a top priority for every multifamily community.

Customer service is key

Placing an emphasis on customer service is so obvious that it can be overlooked. No matter how good customer service is at your properties. It never hurts to brush up on the basics. Below are some basic tactics you can employ in every customer interaction.

Communicate clearly with customers. When communicating with customers, it’s important that they know exactly what is happening and why. To ensure this happens, you should practice the art of over communicating. In the beginning it might seem like you’re talking too much, but if the resident’s question is answered satisfactorily, they won’t mind.

The key here is to not be condescending. Have the right tone for the situation and speak in a way that your residents are familiar with. Don’t be too formal, especially if the situation doesn’t call for it.

Take resident complaints seriously. This goes back to what was discussed in the previous section about online reputation management. When residents have a complaint, make sure they know that you hear them and you are doing everything in your power to make it right.

Respond quickly. Finally, when residents reach out to you, whether that be through the app, portal, text, email, or phone, respond as quickly as possible. In the on-demand world we live in, no one likes to be left waiting. Even if you simply respond and let them know you got their message and are working to help them, that will go a long way toward keeping the resident satisfied.

Learn more To learn more tips and tricks about delivering a best in class experience to your residents download our ebook, Resident Experience 101 | Tips for building a resident experience that resonates and engages with current and potential residents

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