4 Tips for Delivering a Great Customer Experience


Historically, companies have had these self-centered tendencies where we expect customers to adapt to us. The customer experience was a result of our needs and culture – our language, our policies, and our practices.  But this does not really work anymore.  The fact is you need your customers more than they need you, which means we must provide a customer experience that actually revolves around the customer, rather than around us.

For the prospective resident, apartment complexes are viewed as a commodity, so it is up to you to differentiate yourself with an incredible customer experience.

Most companies claim to have good customer service, which is admirable and important, but that does not mean their customers have a good experience.  Confusing, right?  So what is the difference between customer experience and customer service?

Customer service is simply assisting customers and meeting their needs.  People contact customer service when they have a problem.  It might be very small, but there is a problem.  If this happens, something has gone wrong with your customer experience. So when you have a great customer experience, your customer service department is just a safety net really!

You work so hard to define customer experience and to create what you think is a great one, but it really comes down to the perception of each individual.  You see, the customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your community.  It is every touch point and every memory of the process.  I love this because it means you have an opportunity to improve it with each new customer.  Defining and delivering a great customer experience is a perpetual process.

I know this will sound a bit like marketing fluff, but make it your customer experience goal to create a smile.  As a starting goal this is so simple.  It uncomplicates the process and concept of the customer experience.  To get to that smile moment, you have to create a customer journey map.  Your map will identify the different touch points that create those moments of interaction with your service.  Understand each touch point is really not a stand-alone occurrence but that they are all experiences that interact with and influence each other throughout the journey (e.g. the resident lifecycle). In this exercise, you are thinking from the outside in.  Last week we talked about developing prospect personas – defining your target prospect.  You will find that each persona has common steps in their journey.

Making big changes across an organization takes time, but here are a few simple things you can do now to deliver a great customer experience.

Create your own panel

You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Get together with your sister properties to discuss customer experience. This can be a simple lunch once a month that is used for idea sharing and brainstorming. Bring specific examples to your meetings to analyze and then find a solution.

Inspire your employees

This probably sounds like I am oversimplifying. But what I mean is to inspire your employees to make your residents a #1 priority.  Reinforce often to your team your mission of creating a smile.

Create an action plan

I am sure you all do forecasting regularly.  Well, when you work on your forecasting or update your marketing plan, also create an action plan to become more customer-centric.  Keep it simple in the beginning.  It doesn’t have to be a huge formal plan.  The important thing is to be aware and to be working towards improvement goals.

Take advantage of coaching moments

We are often coached and taught to focus on tasks rather than on building relationships. Work with your teammates to build relationships with your customers by listening carefully and responding to their needs.  When coaching moments present themselves, take advantage by giving immediate feedback.

The better you know your customers, the easier the path to defining and delivering a great customer experience. Build your customer experience model based on your true capabilities to deliver – the worst thing you can do is over-promise and under deliver.  Use your customer outcomes as your guide, and use their perceptions as a measurement of your customer experience success.

Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice