Difficult Residents Strike Again


Difficult residents seem to come with the territory of running an apartment community, yet not many people talk about how to approach and create success with them. EPMS knows there are effective tools to help you listen to customers, respond to their feedback, and enhance the overall customer experience and we are eager to share them with you.

The goal is to understand feedback through the eyes of your customers and to manage their expectations, especially online. It is easier and more satisfying for a resident to post a “bad” review than a good review. Let’s change that today by focusing on these areas:

Manage your state of mind – In order to change your interaction with difficult residents, you must change how you react to them. Encourage yourself and your staff to consider two questions: Is the resident really the problem? and Are you overreacting to THEIR reaction? When you become open and switch your state of mind, you create empathy. Here’s an example:

Scenario: A resident was overcharged and it will take your office a week to return the funds.

Problem: The apartment staff downplay this as a small error that can easily be corrected. However, from the resident’s perspective, this is a huge problem! Issues that impact an individual’s finances usually tend to be more sensitive.

Goal: Look at it from the resident’s point of view and approach the problem with appropriate empathy. How you handle the situation can make a huge difference to the resident and can affect how they respond.

Maintain self control – Choose your approach and be mindful of your tone and demeanor, regardless of the channel of communication you choose. Your words and facial expressions can steer the emotional direction of the interaction, so it’s important to maintain your composure.  This can help set the tone and possibly even encourage the resident to follow suit.

Focus on problem solving – When you are in a difficult or emotional situation, it’s easy for misinterpretations or miscommunication to occur.  To minimize these issues, decide to separate the person from the issue. If you can create rapport and show that you are truly focused on solving the problem, it will help to smooth the interaction. Build strong problem solving skills and connect with the resident. Doing this will help you to earn their cooperation and respect.

Apply appropriate pressure – Difficult residents sometimes like to make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate, which can trigger an emotional response in you and distract you from the need to solve the problem. You can change the dynamic and put the spotlight back on the resident by asking what you can do to help or by confirming with them that your solution is appropriate. You can ask constructive questions to help neutralize their feelings towards you and keep the focus on the problem at hand.

Lead; don’t follow – Take control and offer a solution or compromise to the resident. Suggesting how you can assist them or help to make it right will make a big difference in their response to you and the community.

Finally, embrace the situation for what it is – an opportunity to understand how you can improve things or how you can become a better communicator. Take the opportunity to show you sincerely care. Go the extra mile and offer to make it better. Respond in real time so the problem doesn’t escalate.

You cannot avoid dealing with difficult residents, but you can control how you respond to the situation. Always stop and consider the situation from their perspective before you respond. From there, you can choose the best approach for both parties. In the end, this may save you a negative review!

Misty Sanford, Founder
North of Creative