How to design your business for positive customer experience
Industry data over the last year has shown a big shift into a larger focus on elevating the resident experience. In 2019, just 16% of surveyed property managers said that attracting and retaining great residents was one of their top 3 priorities. Last year, that number significantly rose to 45%.
Since Amazon has a reputation for continuously exceeding customer expectations of convenience, speed, and reliability, we use their operational and logistical model as a framework to apply to the property management industry. Before we dive into the details of that, it’s important to understand why the resident has become the priority.
Why the Resident Has Become the Priority
The pandemic has forced property managers to put residents at the forefront. Adapting to safety measures, staying up to date with local laws, and balancing empathy with business have all been bare necessities in staying afloat.
There’s also been an increase in resident’s expectations from their living experience. Digital innovations were already raising resident expectations in terms of speed, service levels, and overall convenience, and the rise in the remote work culture has pushed that expectation further.
Residents are asking:
“If Amazon can deliver me groceries in 2 hours with a few clicks of a button, why can’t my management company or landlord immediately respond to my requests?”
In another recent industry report, residents were surveyed about their expectations from their property managers, and the results were summarized as below:
“Today attracting and retaining residents is less about the flashy appeal of pools and granite countertops, and more about displaying that their needs have been taken into consideration in the place they call home… Whether they rent out of necessity or preference, today’s hyper-connected, often stressed residents are searching for amenities that provide convenience, comfort, and connection.”
Dive deeper into this by downloading our white paper on Increasing Resident Retention & Profitability in the New Normal.
Meeting the Rise of Residents’ Service Level Expectations
When it comes to meeting the needs of the modern resident, it all boils down to speed and empathy. And delivering on these needs requires a balanced mix of technology and human touch.
Today, residents expect:
- Higher response times to maintenance calls, and a general increase in the level of customer service.
- More than just a convenient software portal – residents still want to feel a heart to heart human interaction when dealing with matters regarding the place they call home.
- To feel the goldilocks zone between tech and humanity – not so robotic that it’s cold, but also not so human that it’s inefficient.
At Latchel, our main goal is to help property managers be able to measurably meet and exceed these expectations so that they can move closer to achieving 3 main goals:
- Better and Faster Resident Service Levels: focused on improving resident retention rates and increasing online 5 star resident reviews.
- Less Time Spent on Maintenance Operations: focused on streamlining one of the most time consuming processes of the business to free up time, while increasing resident response times and work order turnaround times.
- Increasing Revenue Per Unit: focused on using increased service levels to add a new revenue stream and increase the typically low profitability that makes it difficult to stay afloat.
We do this using…
The Amazon Approach to Resident Service Levels
We use Amazon as a goal post here because of its continued success in regularly exceeding customer experience. We also have a foundation of more in depth knowledge of how Amazon is able to do this. Latchel’s Cofounder and COO, Will Gordon, worked in Logistics at Amazon helping to create Amazon’s 2-day delivery service. So foundationally, we’ve pulled a lot of operational concepts from Amazon’s logistics and operational design, and applied them to the property management industry.
So, how can property managers start to think and apply the same methods to their business operations?
We published a webinar that details this framework more in depth when it comes to delivering on speed and convenience of maintenance requests that can be viewed here with a downloadable worksheet, and is summarized below:
1. When thinking about what residents and investors want, “focus on the things that don’t change” – Jeff Bezos
You can’t build a process around things that are always changing, because your process will have to change with it. So, if you start with the things that don’t change you have a better framework to build from.
Investors will always want:
- On time monthly statements
- On time rent payments
- Increased asset value
- Ensured NOI on the home
- Fast response times and a sense of urgency
- They want direct access to me
Residents will always want:
- Fast response times
- Ease and convenience in their rent payments, maintenance requests, etc.
- A sense of care and urgency to meet their needs
2. Define and start measuring your SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
Service: The work that you provide
Level: The degree to which you provide a service (Quality, Timeframe, Availability)
Agreement: Your commitment to delivering those service levels
When defining these things, they have to be measurable, because what can’t be measured can’t be managed.
At Latchel, we provide an SLA of a 60 second response time to maintenance calls. We are continuously measuring how often we are meeting that agreement, because any lack of commitment to delivering what we promise creates a reputational risk for the business.
3. Think about what outcomes your residents would pay more for to get.
A recent Consumer Insights report showed that 86% of surveyed consumers were willing to pay more for a better experience. So, we asked, would residents be willing to pay more for increased service levels in their rentals?
We know that large multifamily companies have been showing an answer of “yes” to this question for years through Resident Benefit Packages – a small extra fee included in the lease agreement delivering benefits they might not normally get elsewhere.
So, we launched Home Assistant.
We added a layer to our maintenance coordination software that gave residents the ability to quickly and conveniently coordinate more than just maintenance but resident responsible tasks as well like:
- Regular home cleanings
- Dog walking services
- Furniture Assembly
- TV Mounting
- And more!
We also gave them $300 in service credits to go towards paying for those services. And, we also gave them $300 in cash reimbursements for resident caused damages so they’d be more encouraged to take care of the property and fix damages immediately.
Our customers included this in their lease agreements for a small additional monthly fee that residents were willing and happy to pay for. This gave better service levels to residents, better property protection to owners, and maintenance coordination services to the Property Manager that came at zero cost and added a new revenue stream to their business with profit sharing.
Customers that have fully implemented Home Assistant are increasing their revenue per unit by as much as $19/month and getting more time and money to reinvest in the growth of business.
Applying the Amazon Approach to Resident Service Levels
If you’d like to dive in deeper into how you can start applying these types of frameworks to your own business, you can watch the full webinar here and download the accompanying worksheet to help you design a process guaranteed to elevate your service levels.
If you’d like to learn more about implementing a program like Home Assistant, we’d love to chat with you further. You can book a call with our team here.
Author Bio: Catrina Linhard is the Head of Marketing at Latchel. Latchel is the only maintenance software platform that pays property managers to use them while also reducing the costs and time a manager normally spends on maintenance coordination. By adding features to our tech that elevates the living experience for the resident, property managers are able to include Latchel’s Home Assistant as a resident paid amenity in lease addendums. Not only are our customers providing better and more competitive resident service levels, but they’re also reducing costs of operations and increasing their profitability.
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