RESIDENT RENTENTION: How To Avoid Getting Dumped


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:

Ashley H.:  With the understanding that your time is valuable, our objective is to provide world class service within a timely fashion. We notice you have not responded within the last 60 seconds. Please note that this chat session will remain open for an additional 60 seconds awaiting your response.

My 50 minute wait was worth 2 minutes of their time? Sounds exactly like “world class service within a timely fashion” to me!

Unfortunately, it was just one of many poor customer experiences over 10 years with this company. I will NEVER recommend them to my friends, family, or anyone for that matter. If I could dump them, I would! In fact, that’s exactly what my son said I should do: “Mommy, just dump them!”  But I don’t have another choice—and they know it—which makes my only option to share my story with others.

Customers everywhere just like me are writing and planting deep seeds about their poor customer experiences.  You’ve probably done, or at least intended to do, the same thing after a bad experience.  Social media gives disgruntled customers a forum to share their frustration with a wide audience, and people who hear about another’s bad experience online often tend to avoid (or even “dump”) the business.

In 2009, GENESYS (an Alcatel/Lucent Company) released a report on The Economic Impact of the Customer Experience. This was one of the first global surveys of consumer attitudes toward customer service, touching 9000 people across 16 countries.

In virtually every country, customers ended at least one relationship per year due to poor service. Across all countries surveyed, about 7 in 10 consumers have ended a relationship. Nearly two-thirds of consumers who have ended relationships turn to a competitor, with the remainder lost or abandoned completely as consumers decide not to purchase from anyone. Even previously safe industries — such as utilities — are starting to see losses.

It’s a clear-cut lesson, yet so many companies fail to recognize it. One bad experience and a customer will tell all of their friends, multiple bad experiences and they will vote with their feet.

Your residents are no exception.

Sometimes it’s the “little things” that surface as irritants for residents that often go unnoticed and ignored by management. These “little things” can become big things if not acknowledged and dealt with in a timely manner.

Avoid being dumped by your residents by removing the irritants that can fuel negative apartment reviews and ratings and damage customer loyalty.

1. Incompetent Employees

Delivering a great customer experience requires competent employees who can take your vision and turn it into positive customer interactions. While some employees will immediately embrace a vision and deliver on it, others won’t, with the reason being that they are not competent enough to do so. Nothing is more irritating to me than dealing with incompetent people in business.   In the book, Becoming a Customer-Focused Organization, the author David Cochran makes the point that nothing has more of an effect on customer loyalty than the behaviors and competencies of employees. He describes competency as “a condition” that enables someone to successfully drive customer loyalty.

Conducting performance improvement training with a leasing consultant several years ago, I found consistently below average apartment mystery shop scores and negative comments from shopper. I helped identify weak areas in her sales skills and expressed that she needed to put forth effort in improving or she would continue to receive the same results. She said she felt like she was doing a good job, and I thought to myself, “Really?” As it turned out, her leasing career was short lived. But I often wonder how many employees stick around just because they are allowed to do so. I admire companies that set standards and hold their employees accountable. When companies do not hold employees to competencies, the customers suffer, the employees suffer, and the company suffers.

An interesting fact about us as humans:

With more than a decade’s worth of research, David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, demonstrated that humans find it “intrinsically difficult to get a sense of what we don’t know”. Whether an individual lacks competence in logical reasoning, emotional intelligence, humor, or even chess abilities, the person still tends to rate his or her skills in that area as being above average.

Are your employees competent? Are they driving customer loyalty? If not, then why are they still working for you?

2. Confusing Service Promises

Both of my children were introduced to 80’s music at a very early age. It’s not uncommon for them to be singing tunes from Boston, Asia, or Van Halen while we are driving down the road. Sometimes they get creative and decide to change the harmony or even mix up the words. Last week they decided to recite their ABC’s to Boston’s tune More than a FeelingI was SO confused!

As with music, each piece of your company must work together to ensure there is a seamless, consistent message and customer experience—this includes the promises (mission, vision, values) printed on business cards, written in online chat sessions, and framed on office walls. These words are unique and designed to lead customers to select one business over another. All business moves and employee behaviors should point back to and line up with these messages—if not, it causes confusion.

Customers have no problem holding a company accountable to their “service promises”, and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself reciting a mission or vision back to a company that has broken their promise to me—the customer. I believe employees should be held accountable for behaving in a manner that does not match up to the promises made by their company.

Are you keeping your promises to customers? Are all your employees on board with with your vision and helping customers experience it?

After much thought, I placed yet another call to my cable company and asked to speak to yet another supervisor. I used their own words that were glaring at me on the computer screen while I described my poor customer experiences. After painstakingly elaborating my story, I was told, “I am sorry that you feel that way”–nothing less, nothing more.

I can’t wait until another provider moves to town—I will dump them!

Are you doing what it takes to avoid being dumped? I would love to hear from you.

-Maria Lawson

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