Are the people interfacing with your residents each day creating customer delight or failing miserably?  Are there missed opportunities to create excellent customer experiences at your property?

Recently, we were eyewitness to a Customer Service Fail - which could have been easily avoided.

The SERVUS Team was on-boarding a new multi-family apartment community, which involved training the customer service team members (leasing agents, maintenance call center reps, etc), on how best to use the SERVUS software application to modernize their work order and transition workflows.  It is a larger community with almost 1000 units, and routinely logs 500 resident service calls each month.

Hence, this customer service team has 500 chances every single month to allow residents to have an excellent customer experience.  Or…500 chances to fail.

In this instance, the dedicated customer service rep (CSR) manning the maintenance office was relatively new – both to this job and to the multi-family industry. A long-time resident came to the service office to request a low cost maintenance item and offered to perform the replacement themselves.

What happened next was tough to watch. A recent policy change required a work order to be opened and a maintenance technician scheduled to perform this easy task. The resident started to express frustration about the policy change.  He then went on to cite a recent experience with a service request for a plumbing issue that had horrible response time and was poorly handled by the onsite maintenance team - which is likely why he wanted to perform the maintenance himself.

Here is where the opportunity lies to either create delight or fail miserably.  Unfortunately, in this case, the CSR dropped the ball.  This resident’s frustration was made worse by the CSR’s failure to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.  The unhappy resident went away with no resolution and proceeded to rate the property management team very poorly on internal follow-up surveys.

Customer Service Chalkboard

But, is this really the CSR's fault? Or, does the responsibility lie with the management team? The employees who are routinely interacting with your residents should have conflict resolution training or at a minimum, read about how to handle residents that are upset.

How could this have gone differently? In short, here are some basics that would have significantly helped the situation above:

  1. The CSR should have listened while the resident vented.  Listening and staying calm shows the resident that they are being respected.
  2. The CSR should have apologized for past failures allowed the resident to know they are being heard.
  3. In addition, any onsite manager needs to go out of their way to address and resolve the current issue.

If these three steps are taken, and followed through, a potential risk can be turned into resident delight. In turn, this creates an opportunity to leave positive reviews on social media sites that turns into owner delight!

We would love to hear from you (other multi-family professionals) – on tips or best practices that have worked well at your company.  Do you provide training to new employees in this area?  Are they mentored in some way?  Any other suggestions for dealing with unhappy residents?  Add your comments on the blog, on our Facebook page or send us an email.