A good reputation, resident referrals, and a solid, predictable community ends and begins with your residents. It’s no secret that your residents are your biggest asset, even bigger than your $40+ million property. Because of this, creating a better focus on customer experience and retention is key. To begin this focus we need to take a peek at a few statistics of why customers leave in the first place: 68% are unhappy with service, 14% are unhappy with product, and 9% move to a competitor.
The first step to building better customer retention is to set customer expectations early. This eliminates uncertainty around the level of service you need to offer to ensure your customers are happy. To avoid over promising and eventually under delivering, you also want set these expectations a tad lower than you are able to provide.
Next, you want to build trust through relationships. Whether we realize it or not, we all do business with people we trust. Trust is essential in business, and building relationships with residents will garner that trust. As trust increases, commitment tends to grow, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build trust through shared values and by taking an interest in your residents and their story over time. Simply providing a service is no longer sufficient.
Third, develop a proactive approach to customer service – an anticipatory service strategy – and eliminate problems before they happen instead of waiting for them to occur. To achieve and maintain this balance, companies must establish a dialogue with customers that shows an awareness of their information needs and respect for their communication preferences. The more contacts made with a resident, the “stickier” that resident becomes. When residents are consistently given valuable and useful information, the stickiness becomes loyalty. Friendly rent reminders, water shut off notices, and regular community updates are all examples of an anticipatory service strategy.
The final step for building customer retention is to take it online. Your residents are already there, so why not engage with them in their space? We so often think of customer experience as being face-to-face interaction, but that isn’t the case. People are glued to the screens, so it only makes sense to develop a strategy to connect with them online.
Keep in mind though that connecting with customers and building online communities takes more effort and time than typical social media acquisition strategies. It is a daily exercise if you want to do it properly.
As you add these focus tips to your resident retention and customer service strategy, you will notice an improvement in your online reputation, an increase in resident referrals, and your community will become a bit more predictable. Which tips are you planning to implement?