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Customer Loyalty & Retention: Connecting with Your Customer

RESIDENT RENTENTION: How To Avoid Getting Dumped

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Are You At Risk of Being DUMPED By Your Residents?

Not too long ago, I attempted to contact the cable company to make some changes to my account. I was left on hold for 15 minutes listening to a recurring loop of “Thank you for holding. A representative will be with you momentarily.” So I hung up and decided to try the Live Chat option. After another 30 minutes had passed, I temporarily stepped away from the computer. When I returned a few minutes later, this is what I found on my screen:

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Customer Analytics and Resident Retention

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Big Data Processes: Customer Analytics and Resident Retention

Unless you’ve had your head buried in traditional “marketing sand” so to speak, you know there’s a major push recently toward the concept and impact of business intelligence. What do you do after you make the sale? How do your customers perceive your product, and what are you doing to ensure their ongoing patronage? Are your residents likely to renew their lease at the end of their term?

Big Data is the term for the collective information about your customers – their purchasing behavior, feedback, interactions, transactions, etc. For many, understanding Big Data processes can be an overwhelming and difficult to manage process.  Companies need a solution that can capture, store, easily search, and analyze this information – ultimately giving them a holistic picture from which to work for attaining product and service solutions. Understanding what is making an impression on your residents – good or bad – can help ensure a higher lease renewal rate at your apartment community.

Customer analytics is not a new proposition – chain grocery stores instituted ‘loyalty card’ programs years ago and have been mailing coupons for identical and competing brand items to consumers based on purchase history.  Stores like Target and Sears in addition to other big name brands are tracking customer purchase patterns and analyzing the information to provide personalized recommendations and savings for their customers – not based solely on identical items purchased but rather also on seemingly unrelated products and services that have proven correlations to similar customer group needs.

Apartment communities and multifamily management companies have allied with local businesses to provide discounted services for residents and instituted loyalty programs of their own with perks for residents who choose to renew their lease. But these types of customer loyalty programs aren’t the entire solution to increasing resident retention.

Amazon.com utilizes a recommendation system for users, which is – in very oversimplified terms – based on typical consumer behavior by other users who looked at or purchased the identical item you’ve viewed or bought.  The mathematical and computational programming that goes into boxed products that deliver analytic solutions is extremely complicated but produces effectively targeted results. Big Data collection and utilization has taken on such an important role in business because it benefits not only the business but also the customer.

What if your Big Data processes determine most of your apartment rental prospects are finding you on a particular website? You can not only devote marketing spend to that source but you are making it easier for those customers to do business with you because you are putting relevant information in front of them right where they first look.  It saves them time and effort, which leads them to believe this is an indicator of what their overall customer experience with you will be like!

The percentage of companies using big data processes to understand customer experiences and expectations is expected to increase overall by 40% by 2015. But data analytics historically has only been undertaken by the largest corporations and once was a hit-and-miss and time-consuming process. Not to mention the uselessness of data that just sits idly in storage after it’s been collected, much like what happens with traditional resident or customer satisfaction survey results.

Companies in the past were merely looking at what had transpired rather than examining improvements that could be made to change the results they were getting. You cannot stop there!

To make a true impact in lead conversion, resident retention, and overall profit margins, you cannot merely collect data; you must in turn find meaning in it. Once you’ve interpreted the data, then you can make informed choices about actions in your business model that can drive growth and profitability.

Steps to take once you’ve collected your big data:

  • Summarize the data
  • List facts discovered in the data
  • Determine common themes
  • Define the impact of any recurring concerns on purchase and repurchase decisions
  • Brainstorm ideas for corrective action

Selecting a product or provider to aid you with collection and analysis of customer purchase and customer experience patterns is the most viable option for many companies. It allows you to focus on day to day operations and by completing all these steps for you, allows you to get on the fast track to effective solutions to drive sales, lease renewals, and resident retention.

Article Provided by Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, a partner in the journey to discover the voice of the customer through an integrated program of mystery shops, resident surveys, and social media sentiment.

 

Resident Retention – Taking Your Residents’ Temperature

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Resident Retention – Taking Your Residents’ Temperature

You have heard this repeated in sales training time after time – but it’s true!

‘It’s easier and less expensive to keep the customers you have than to acquire new ones.’

In fact it costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer! This principle also applies to resident satisfaction and techniques to keep your current residents at your apartment community. Simply considering make-ready and vacancy costs of approximately $4000 on average for every unit you have to turn over, it’s easy to see why it is important to ensure your current resident stays in the home instead of having to look for a new one to fill the space.

In the current economic landscape, many owners and management companies are increasing their focus on resident retention, and what it takes to boost their residents’ loyalty to improve the likelihood that they will remain a resident once their lease term is up. A simple increase of 1% in your resident retention rates can mean thousands of dollars over time just at the property level. Essential to ensuring your residents remain at your apartment community is to determine their level of ‘resident satisfaction,’ and what is impacting their opinion and ultimately their leasing decision when it comes time to renew.

 

Try one or more of these methods to reach out to your residents and see how things are going!

  • Engage with your residents whenever they visit the office or you see them on property
  • Check out what residents are saying about you through social media outlets like Facebook or an apartment rating or other websites
  • Survey your residents at essential touch-points during their lease, such as after they move in, after you complete a service request, and when their lease renewal is approaching

You can gain some valuable feedback when you ask and listen. The level of satisfaction with their home is dependent on whether it is meeting their needs – creating value in their perspective. Every service and amenity you provide takes on a unique level of importance to each resident – the only way you can find out what’s important to them is to understand and get feedback. This should be your first objective in understanding how to deploy your resident retention strategies. Resident insights might surprise you!

“The only way you can find out what’s important to them is to understand and get feedback.”

However, acting on specific feedback takes time to implement. While drilling down to what exactly is having the greatest impact on the leasing decisions of the residents at your community is the most effective path to increasing resident retention.

Resident appreciation ideas that can put a smile on your resident’s face.

  • Place a “Welcome” card in each new resident’s home on move-in day
  • Leave a “Just Popped In” note and popcorn treat bag in their home after service is completed
  • Offer perks – negotiate local retailer discounts, offer reserved parking for long term residents, etc.
  • Stay connected with fun and informative monthly newsletters
  • Give personal recognition, like a quick note or small gift on a resident’s birthday
  • Create community events – parties, organized outings, or even a community ‘yard sale’

 

While residents move away for a number of reasons, some of them beyond your control, you can tremendously impact your resident retention with how you treat your residents. As much as 2/3 of resident turnover is within our power to affect. Communicating effectively, responding timely, properly maintaining their apartment and the community they want to proudly call “home’… all of these help create an attractive lifestyle environment for your residents as a whole.

So if you’re not already, start taking your residents’ “temperature”! Learn what they value most – what is working and what might not be – and strive to provide the lifestyle they will stay for and recommend you to others because of.  ASK, LISTEN and ACT!

Resident surveys offer a path to learning more about what your residents needs are and should be at the top of your to do list..    Please see our guide to improving resident retention for supplementary details.

 

Resident Retention: The Good/Bad and the Social Media Factor!

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Resident Retention: The Good/Bad and the Social Media Factor!

Lee Resource Inc. found that for every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent. But silence is not golden! When you consider that customers who are not talking to you are most likely talking about you across multiple communities on the Internet and it’s apparent how important proactively pursuing customer thought and opinion are to your business.

“Lee Resource Inc. found that for every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent.”

Your customer’s experience is the sum total of every interaction they have with you, whether in person, by phone, or over the Internet. As there has been a push in recent years to examine customer buying behavior, a strong correlation was found between customer purchasing decisions and how delighted they were with their provider. 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience (Harris Interactive).

For the multifamily industry, resident retention is a vital aspect of profitability. Make ready costs are extensive when units turn over, so to keep a resident in their home offers extensive savings. According to Peppers and Rogers, 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.

But how do we manage the processes of resident retention?

It starts with communicating with the customer – and we’re not talking about a generic newsletter or that 90-day notice of an impending rent increase. Sure, one way communication is necessary, but it’s real dialogue – receiving valuable feedback from the customer – that leads to productive paths for increasing the likelihood that resident will stay at your community for a very long time.

Nobody likes moving – albeit sometimes a move is necessary and the reason is beyond our control. That means it’s a practical impossibility to expect a resident retention rate of 100%. You can’t grow resident retention rates overnight or exponentially in a matter of a typical lease cycle. But you can find areas of opportunity at the property level that marginally over time will improve profitability.

“42% of companies who embark on a mission of creating a great customer experience do so in order to increase customer retention.”

Every customer-facing employee makes a difference in how your customer perceives their experience at your community. Do you ask new residents about their move-in experience after they have had a little time to get settled? If they experience a maintenance problem, do you follow up by inquiring as to their opinion of the interaction? 42% of companies who embark on a mission of creating a great customer experience do so in order to increase customer retention.

You have to start somewhere by finding out how your customer feels about you – are you meeting their needs, providing a high value, and offering excellent service? Would they recommend your community to someone they know? Once you gather specific data about encounters with your staff and service team, identify which experiences have the highest correlation to their buying decision – whether they plan to renew their lease or not! – then you can define the areas to be addressed that will make the biggest impact to your bottom line.

Social media is now a way of life; it can work for or against you and like it or not, the bottom line is your profitability capacity will be measured by your ability to effectively extract and manage feedback from your customers.

With the Ellis Partners Resident Feedback Survey program, we help property management companies seek out and listen to the Voice of the Customer; analyze strongest points of correlation to lease renewal; and outline plans of action to increase retention, because greater lease renewal rate leads to higher total customer lifetime value and profits.

 

The iMpact of Customer Loyalty

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How Does Apple Do It?

 Now that you’ve discovered the sparkling gem known as customer loyalty and we have discussed asking the ‘Ultimate Question’ as a way to determine how loyal your customer base is currently, let’s look at how one company has put this concept into practice and wins over customer after customer – continuing to boost profits and market share year after year in the tight competitive market of consumer technology products.

 Yes, you guessed it! Whenever there is a new multimedia “anything” nowadays, it seems there is an iThing! Read More

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