Customer service has, and always will be, a critical competitive advantage for any business.
As property managers we are in the real estate game but really we are in the people business. Every day, everyone we interact with is our customer and needs to be treated as such.
A customer-centric focus and attitude will make your life easier. The more people feel listened to, the easier they are to deal with and less likely they are to blow a minor issue into an enormous one. Here are five areas to focus on:
Listen more than you speak. You have two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you speak (I didn’t come up with that). This means actively hearing what the other person is saying, not just nodding in the right places while formulating your response. Most people are not good listeners and it takes practice, but it’s definitely an art worth mastering.
This also includes listening to feedback. Bill Gates said, “Your unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Sending out a survey to your customers after every transaction is a really powerful way to understand what your customers think about you. You can make the surveys anonymous but it’s essential that you know where your opportunities to improve are. Taking action with this information is crucial to the ongoing improvement and growth of any business and at the core of exceptional customer service.
Do what you say you will do. There are very few things more frustrating than someone who over promises and under delivers. Return that phone call when you said you would, send that email by COB. A great rule I had when I was a property manager was that all phone calls had to be returned before I left the office at the end of the day. It really doesn’t take as long as you think and even if you have to leave messages, people feel respected, as you have responded.
Be on time. Whether it’s a new business opportunity or a quick meeting with a tradesperson, turn up on time. If you have respect for other people’s time they will respect yours. Being on time is not only a good reflection on you and your professionalism, but reflects well on your company. Keep in mind that it’s better to be a bit early than late so always add on a few extra minutes travel time to account for traffic.
Exceed expectations. I love this because it is so powerful and really easy to do. Always err on the side of caution when you make promises. Instead of promising something at the end of the day, promise the next day. I assure you the recipient will be very impressed when they receive it that afternoon, whereas if you had promised that afternoon they would be expecting it. It’s also a great practise to get into the swing of giving without expecting anything in return. The more you give to people somehow the more you get back.
Be innovative. Offer your customers something that stands out from what your competitors offer. There has been an explosion in the marketplace over the last 24 months with new products for property management. Whether it’s a new technology in the business, a more in-depth inspection report, unique owner/tenant portal or a well-thought-out and themed information night that shares relevant market updates with industry experts. Never stop looking for that innovative edge to stand out from the crowd.