The Two C’s for Success: Communication & Customer Service
In an industry like property management where the services you offer are not dissimilar to the ones offered by your competitors, how can your business make a point of difference in the marketplace?
Some businesses may rely on bargaining chips such as a competitive fee structure to entice new clients and retain current ones, but often it’s not enough. You’ll find that the best property management teams excel at delivering the ‘The Two C’s’ – communication and customer service – which are intrinsically linked with each other. When both are done right, your business will be set apart from the pack and your clients and tenants will be more willing to refer you to others or provide you with that sought after 5-Star Google review.
You’re probably thinking that it’s a no-brainer that great customer service is a positive for any business. However, what’s not often discussed is how communication can elevate said great customer service. You may be providing fantastic customer service for your clients by advocating for landlords’ rights or securing a higher weekly rent for example, but if your clientele don’t know about this, how do they know you’re providing top notch customer service?
Sam Devlin, Director of Harcourts Property Centre says it’s not enough to utilise phone calls or emails when communicating with clients or tenants. In a highly connected world, you need to think outside the box and tap into what your customers (and potential customers) use on a day-to-day basis – think electronic direct mailing (EDM), newsletters, social media, YouTube, webinars and live website chat functions just to name a few.
Moreover, Devlin says property managers need to think about what both their clients or tenants want – and need – to know as well. Why restrict your communication to only be about their tenancy or investment property? Taking the time to inform them about other investment opportunities or information about the market that’s tailored to them displays highly committed level of customer service that’s unlikely to be matched in the market.
“Our EDMs and newsletters go out to landlords to update them on a range of things, such as the general market, legislative updates, other investment opportunities or third party products which we believe our owners may benefit from, whether it’s information about interest rate reviews, home loan reviews, or landlord insurance,” explains Devlin. “More recently, we’ve been updating our landlords and tenants with EDMs released either weekly, or whenever The REIQ or Queensland Government have taken action which impacts them. Landlords need constant communication so they feel comfortable about their investment. Without regular communication to landlords, we leave them in the dark and that’s always an anxious place to be, and not a feeling we want to instil in our owners especially at this time [during COVID-19].”
Emma Herbert, former real estate professional and Chief of Energy and Culture at CrowdBloom says during COVID-19, it’s a great time to take stock and strategise your Two C’s approach.
“Use this time to uncover advantages of your services based on how you treat your customer base in this time,” says Herbert. “Don’t wait for a customer to come to you with their concerns. For example, have web-based live information feeds directed into your website, document or record yourself with Members of Parliament, leaders or influencers who are up-to-date in and around our industries. This should always be a strategy piece – but nowadays its more becoming a standard, not an extra-curricular component.”
Herbert argues that those who aren’t using their communication channels to convey their customer service, knowledge and expertise will be left behind. However, it’s important to not adapt a ‘hard sell’ approach, or you may find your messaging and customer service is conveyed as a money grabbing exercise.
“Add value, add content, give, give, give and don’t focus on selling,” adds Herbert. “You will forge yourself as an industry leader if you keep active and present, and this will speak for itself with interest from clients whose current provider is taking a fear-based backseat.”
Practical Tips for Property Managers: How to Improve Your Two C’s
- Show off your customer service prowess by asking for testimonials from satisfied clients and tenants and communicate this to the masses – whether it’s on your website, social media page or email database.
- Take the time to hone your branding and core messaging. Are you a family-owned property management business, a single person who assists like-minded clients get ahead financially, or a proud member of your church or local football club? As Herbert suggests, “intertwine who you are into your business or personal brand, and then into your point of difference.” Once you’ve established this, weave it into your communications – you’ll be surprised at how much traction you might get from potential clients who are keen to do business with you because they relate to you on a personal level.
- Skill-up so you can confidently provide advice or insight to clients or tenants. If you don’t have the answers, connect with people that do – mortgage and insurance brokers for example. Not only will your clients or tenants be pleased with this ease of convenience and level of customer service, but partnering up with people in other industries may help build your business. Herbert refers to this as ‘the community connection approach.’
- Regularly check-in with your tenants and clients for a simple chat to ensure you have a greater understanding of their financial and personal circumstances. Having this understanding may benefit you in the long run. How? For example, if you have a great tenant that’s mentioned they’re looking for a smaller place to rent in the future, you may have another property on your rent roll that fits their needs. While this level of communication and customer service is always vital, it’s never been more important during COVID-19. Understanding a landlord’s or tenant’s situation deeply is going to provide better tenancy outcomes. As Devlin states, “the goal here is that we want our clients and tenants to think in 6, 12, or 18 months’ time – ‘gee, that team handled that situation so well!’”
- Don’t be scared to ramp up your content or social media presence during COVID-19. Tenants and clients want information from you and to be re-assured by you during this difficult time. Providing this customer service (and not being shy about it) will not only prove fruitful with existing clients or tenants, but prospective ones as well.