Are guests or tenants raving about their experience at your properties? Or do you wish you were getting those heartwarming positive reviews more often? Could your customer service be part of the problem?
If you manage vacation rental, single-family, or multi-family properties, you know that customer satisfaction is critical to successful property management. If guests or tenants are happy with their experience at your property, they are more likely to book again, renew their lease, or refer your property to others, allowing you to grow your business.
But what are the best ways to ensure that those staying with you are satisfied? How do you set customer service expectations, and ensure that your staff is meeting them, with every guest, and every interaction?
1. Make a good first impression-virtually.
Before potential guests or tenants meet you, speak to you, or visit the property, you’ve already made an impression. Your website and social media are the first chance they have to interact with you, and your customer service skills. It’s important that you’re providing a seamless experience from the very first click.
Is your website easy to navigate? Click through your website from start to finish and look for any issues with the customer experience. If it’s too slow to load, they can’t easily access the information they’re looking for. If your site doesn’t do a good job of showing them your expertise and experience, they might not even move past that point to book a property, make a phone call, or set up a meeting with you.
Your social media is also an extension of your brand. Post valuable, engaging content, such as practical tips, links to important news articles, and business updates, so that you’re viewed as a trustworthy property management company. This is your first chance to show off your excellent customer service skills, by sharing five-star reviews, using storytelling to offer examples of how you’ve gone above and beyond, and providing easy ways to contact you.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to improve your customer service through your website and social media, consider outsourcing to make sure your first impression is a good one.
2. Make a good impression in person.
Once a guest moves beyond your website, the next order of business is to provide excellent customer service with that very first phone call, meeting, or showing.
Answer phone calls or respond to messages promptly. When you speak with potential guests or tenants, reply to their questions in a way that shows that you are friendly, communicative, willing to find answers for them, and professional. If you can’t personally man the phones, make sure your team knows how to greet guests or tenants, assess their issues or questions, and provide reassuring, complete answers.
Similarly, when you schedule a showing for your property, be on time and attentive. Have any information that might be needed on hand. Know the property and its best features, and be able to answer questions. If a team member is showing the property, make sure that they are doing the same.
3. Be available to your tenants or guests 24/7.
Customer service in property management means being available and accessible, whenever you are needed. There will always be questions, concerns, and unforeseen issues that need to be addressed. And not every issue is going to wait until the morning.
If you can’t answer a call, make sure that you are returning the call as quickly as possible. When major issues and emergencies occur—whether maintenance requests, natural disasters, or otherwise—a property management company that responds promptly and deals with issues effectively demonstrates a high level of customer service. If you don’t make yourself available, your customers are more likely to go somewhere else.
Even for minor, non-emergency questions (what’s the easiest way to get to the beach, how much do I owe for rent this month), your team should present themselves as easily accessible, approachable, and just a phone call away.
4. Use reliable vendors and contractors.
Your team is a representation of you, and their work ethic, reliability, and trustworthiness impact the impression you make. Every customer touchpoint is a chance to define your brand.
When you outsource cleaning, maintenance, and other services, it’s important to make sure you can rely on those vendors and contractors to follow through on their tasks and deal with any issues with professionalism. When renters are disappointed by the cleanliness of your property or the manner with which maintenance is scheduled or performed, it greatly impacts their experience in staying or living there. Make sure that any outside vendors and contractors are on the same page so you can minimize issues.
5. Respond to complaints in a timely manner.
Another important part of customer service is how you deal with complaints. Try as you might, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. Have a process in place for dealing with issues, and make sure your staff know how to handle difficult tenants or guests.
When you receive a complaint, act as soon as possible. Have an answering service with a message from you, so that the caller feels heard immediately—or better yet, have someone answering calls 24/7. You can also use tech to help respond quickly.
When you address a complaint, always act with professionalism. Listen, show empathy, and don’t get defensive or argumentative. If you can’t immediately solve the problem, let them know that you’re working on it and when they can expect a response.
6. Regularly communicate with tenants or guests.
If you want to improve the experience your team delivers, don’t make every interaction you have one that centers around a complaint or issue. Be present, whether physically or through email newsletters, to show guests that you’re interested, involved, and care about their experience at your property.
Email is an easy way to keep everyone up to date with positive news, scheduled events, or local areas of interest to visit during their stay. Be upfront about scheduled maintenance or construction, or any other issues that may arise. They’ll appreciate being given a heads-up so they can plan accordingly.
Establishing positive relationships through regular, open communication is something that takes time. But it has a huge impact on how tenants and guests feel about your company, making it one of the best ways to improve property management customer experience.
7. Respond to reviews and use feedback to improve.
After guests stay with you, they often leave reviews. This is something you should encourage, as positive reviews encourage others to book with you and negative feedback gives you a chance to address issues that you may not have noticed yourself.
Respond to all reviews, positive or negative. Your response shows that you read your reviews, which lets people know that you care about their opinion. If feedback is negative, respond professionally. Don’t get defensive or give a bunch of excuses. Let them know you’re sorry they had a negative experience and tell them specifically what you’ll do to ensure future guests don’t have the same experience.
For example, “Hi, [Guest]. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know about your stay. We strive to provide an amazing guest experience and we’re so sorry we didn’t meet expectations. We’d love to hear more about your stay so that we can deliver a better experience next time. You can reach us at [email address]. Thanks again for your review!”
Your response is a chance to demonstrate excellent customer service skills to both the reviewer and potential guests.
8. Conduct tenant or guest surveys.
If you’re in single-family or multifamily property management, consider conducting surveys where tenants can provide feedback on a regular basis. Even if residents decide not to participate, asking for details about their experience shows that you care.
Ask residents what you’re doing well, and what you need to improve. Then use this information to help you learn, grow, and improve customer service.
Surveys are an equally useful tool in vacation rentals. You can gain first-hand information and suggestions from previous guests that will allow you to make instant improvements to your customer service.
Keep in mind that if you ask people to put time and effort into giving honest feedback, you should thank them for their opinion and take the information you receive seriously. One of the best ways to improve customer service is to use any negative assessments given to address issues head-on.
9. Create a FAQ page.
Another way to improve your property management customer service is to make sure you don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re always addressing issues after the fact. Be proactive by thinking through the experience you’re providing and asking yourself what issues renters might face and what questions they might have. Consider any frequent questions you hear or complaints you regularly receive.
If you’re often asked the same questions, use them to create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your website. That way, you’re addressing issues head-on, answering questions before they’re asked, and showing guests and tenants that you’re considering their needs and care about their experience.
10. Be professional.
What is the best way to improve customer service in property management? Make sure that your team is always demonstrating professionalism. Know the properties, know the area, and know what you’re talking about.
Of course, it’s impossible for everyone on the team to know everything. So when a team member is unsure of how to handle something or the answer to a question, they should confidently say that they’ll find out, and then follow through promptly.
If you’re considering doing some professional hospitality training, you’ll definitely want to check out the Kennedy Training Network. They’ve worked with many of the finest service organizations across North America and the Caribbean.