The first step in solving a problem is realizing and accepting that it exists. I recently had a conversation with a regional VP about their management company’s online brand image and the negative resident sentiment that has built up over the years. The reviews that I saw for these properties gave me the chills, and I wanted to see what they were doing about it. I was not surprised to hear “nothing,” followed up by a defensive narrative given the ambiguity in correlating service experience and costs (reference “Finding nirvana: The new equilibrium between maintenance resources and resident satisfaction” for a more in depth look into the cost effectiveness). This conversation was in no way unique as I have a number of these each week with managers who are not aware of the impact of brand reputation on their business.
Want to make a change and start seeing relatively immediate results? One of the easiest things you can do is actually set aside some time for strategic callbacks. We all know what they are, and we all know how fast they fall down to the bottom of the priority ladder. It is important to focus on the concept I preach most often, which revolves around turning residents into more than just a source of revenue, but into champions of your business via callbacks. These champions wield untapped (and free) marketing resources. Here are my thoughts on how you can start getting back on track:
As mentioned above, many managers lack a clear strategy in how to optimize the callback process. There is no standardized process for collecting, storing, and reacting to resident feedback, often making it difficult to turn feedback into actionable and positive results. As I mentioned earlier, there is a serious deficit in transparency within most organizations, leaving regional managers, VPs and beyond unaware of the true sense of what is happening on the ground.
What to do about it?
With more businesses utilizing technology and big data to expedite processes, solve existing problems, and even curb nonexistent issues from ever arising, it is critical to avoid remaining stagnant. Being old school is cool, but try booting up something like Windows ’98 and using dial-up for a day without ripping out your hair, then come talk to me. When I inquire why a company does something the way it does when it knows there are methods that are more effective, I often hear “because we have always done it this way.” We all know change is scary, but there is too much to gain in giving your business an advantage via data mining.
Implementing a data mining platform that can identify problem areas and show you where to focus on feedback collection as well as predict behaviors is priceless for the longevity of your success. Analyzing trends can help you develop standardized processes for callbacks, whether they are targeting repeat issues or specific struggling categories of your service experience. Let us dive into how you can handle some hypothetical yet frequent callback situations.
Your resident has rated your service work poorly and has reopened a work order due to their dissatisfaction. Repeat work accounts for an average of 20% of work orders, most of which can be categorized into HVAC and appliance related issues. These issues then become your maintenance team’s immediate priority and communication needs to be established with the resident to clarify and readdress the work. I recommend the property manager to touch base with the resident over email in order to express customer value. The repeat work needs to be assigned to maintenance men who specialize in the particular category, implying that every property should ideally have staff that are experts in the lowest rated category of service work across the industry. Once this work is completed, the service worker should conduct a test of the equipment, guaranteeing success. The property manager then calls the resident, gathering information and reestablishing trust and positivity in their business. Throughout these steps, I recommend complete transparency, allowing storage of, access to, and tracking of the communication/correspondence for future reference and data analytics purposes.
The mentioned processes, amongst most processes in your organization benefit greatly from transparency. Making callback/feedback data accessible to both residents and employees heightens accountability and quality of work. Empowering your residents with the ability to approve callbacks and increasing the level of communication throughout the entire procedure amounts in happier folks and effective employees. Giving senior management access ensures that the organization runs on high ethics from top to bottom and eradicates the misguided notion that resident feedback is not important, or that some is more important than other.
Ultimately, utilizing data to define your own branded escalation protocol for when problems are identified ensures that there is structure and procedures are followed in issue resolution, leaving less room for negligence and mistakes. “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk
About the author
Anton Razanav is a Marketing specialist at ComVibe. ComVibe has effectively tamed real-time data collection and developed a solution for interactively engaging residents in the improvement and upkeep of their property while organizing and empowering maintenance crews and management with tools that promote professionalism and the maximization of staff potential. Their mobile, multiplatform system offers a simple and transparent user-friendly interface, actively connecting resident to maintenance workers while sustaining direct communication from start to finish of a particular task.