When you walk into a coffee shop, customer service seems like a no-brainer. In most industries, it seems that customer service is a simple process where the customer is always right, and you must do anything and everything to please them. But is that the case in property management? Is the customer always right, and if not, how do we protect the property and keep residents happy at the same time? To illustrate the complexity of property management customer service, let’s look at customer service from a barista’s perspective.
Most consider a barista to be the top shelf of customer service due to the fact that in order to give customer satisfaction, there are specific processes that they have to follow to reach their end goal. None of us want to leave our favorite coffee shop with a bitter taste in our mouth because of sour coffee. Similarly, we don’t want our residents to leave our interactions with a bitter taste of YOU. We want to be the barista of customer service. How do we do that? Let’s look at the steps it takes to make the perfect shot of espresso and how they can relate to good customer service.
How You Can Improve Your Customer Service Skills in Property Management
Dosage – Customer Service Training
The first step in making the perfect espresso shot is figuring out your dosage or how much of the ground espresso (training) goes into your basket (you).
Are you making sure you and your employees are trained enough? How your employees act is pivotal to your company’s success. We need to pour our efforts into developing good customer service skills so that we can set an example for our team, taking the lead in being trained. Like the espresso, not having enough training can mess up the processes way down the line and inhibit growth within ourselves and the company. Make sure that you have a training program in place so that your team can facilitate awesome customer service.
Yield – Return on Customer Service Investment
Our yield is the ratio between coffee input and beverage output. Likewise, the amount of effort we put into our customers will reflect on customer satisfaction.
I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where someone went above and beyond for us as the customer, and it put a smile on our faces. When our employees put in the effort to maintain customer satisfaction, a few things tend to happen. One of them is that the customers talk. If we are dealing with our residents, they may talk to others about how wonderful their property manager is, essentially giving you free marketing.
Another benefit is that you retain long-time satisfied customers. Many companies focus on customer acquisition instead of retention, even though it costs them much more. In property management, our residents are our priority. Go the extra mile, the more effort you put in, the more outpouring of benefits come.
Likewise, with the espresso, if our brew ratio is off, we can extract compounds that we don’t want, throwing off the taste completely. In addition to lost income, displeased customers or residents can give you negative marketing, spreading their experiences to others or online. Always ensure that what you are putting in is exactly what you learned in your training; there is no room to make personal decisions that may result in mistakes.
Tamp and Distribution – Get Granular With Your Communication
Tamping is the amount of pressure applied to the bed of espresso to make it even and prevent cracks and gaps. The amount of pressure is not as important as repeatability and consistency.
We will liken tamping to communication. Without the proper emphasis on good communication, your entire process for good customer service can be sabotaged. You can build strong relationships with residents by focusing on transparent, personalized communication that gives them the assistance they need to find or enjoy their homes. Developing this skill is vital, and being consistent with it will ensure good processes for you and your team. It makes your team comfortable in their environment, being able to be open with issues that come up. The same goes for your residents; knowing that they have a reliable communicator as their property manager will make them feel more comfortable in their home and address problems that come up.
Time – Find the Perfect Balance for Superior Customer Service
Time is what ties everything together. When extracting your coffee, if it takes too long, you will get bitter espresso. If it’s too short, it will taste sour.
When a resident makes a complaint, it can be a difficult thing to deal with. Many times, the solution to these complaints are complex and require us to look back on our fair housing training. But when these circumstances come up, are you proactive or reactive? Taking too long to solve a problem can cause more complaints, but being too fast and reacting quickly leaves room for mistakes to be made. We always want to be proactive in finding the best solution that follows fair housing laws. Take the time to listen to the customer’s complaints, and make sure that you really listen. Prioritize issues when they come up, and organize them so that they can be handled efficiently. Make sure that your company’s processes support that efficiency. Yes, time is very valuable when it comes to espresso and property management. For espresso, lost time is lost flavor. With property management, lost time can be lost satisfaction. Make sure you’re taking the time with your residents and customers, as well as within your company, to make sure that all things run smoothly and efficiently to maximize retention and satisfaction.
Why Customer Service Training in Property Management is Important
Let’s face it. Being in customer service and/or support of any type can leave you feeling very jaded. The sheer onslaught of people who have a ton of problems on their minds which they then take out on you, is infinite. We are only human. This is going to take its toll.
This is why customer service training is so important. We all need a wave of positivity and a reminder of purpose as to why customer service is so important. Besides all of the items highlighted above, here are a few other key items you learn from a customer service course:
- How to not take comments from customers personally!
- Proper word choice
- Passive-aggressive phrases that need to be avoided
- Body language
- Follow-up communication
- And more!
Training can come in many different forms. There is online customer service training. Then there is a plethora of industry trainers who you can have come work with your team personally.
The point is that we all need reminders. We need coaching. And more importantly, we need encouragement to keep our customer service skills sharpened!
Here are some additional resources for you:
The Customer Experience – Creating a Sustainable Brand Program
Customer Service and Fair Housing
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this topic. We will leave that up to our experts and partners over at the Fair Housing Institute!
Check out their featured articles below.
Customer Service and Property Management – Key Takeaways
So what have we learned today? For one thing, I bet you will not look at making a cup of coffee or espresso the same way ever again. There are a lot of parallels between customer service and making an incredible cup of espresso. You need to remember your key fundamentals in order to deliver an amazing product.
We also learned why customer service training is so important to sustainable success. This article will serve as a template for you and your team to become rockstars and the ultimate baristas of customer service in property management.