By Alexandra S. Jackiw, CPM®, CAPS
President – Milhaus Management

What do you think is the best way to quickly improve your customer service and resident retention?

Micah Solomon, a contributor to Forbes, made a great point when he recently wrote, “Obsess over the beginning and ending of the customer interaction. Because of how human memory works, you have to get these moments right if you want your customers to remember their time with you pleasantly.”

Every time a customer comes in contact with your property or a member of the on-site team, it is a Moment of Truth. The future relationship between you and your customer is based on the collective memory of each Moment of Truth. So it’s incredibly important to identify each potential critical point of contact between you and the customer and ensure that it is a positive, impressionable experience for the customer.

When was the last time you looked at every aspect of your property through the eyes of your customer – prospect and resident?

Identify Critical Points of Contact

The best way to identify the critical points of contact is to create an Experience Map of your property. Look at every critical point of contact and determine the level of service at each point, through the eyes of the customer. What would compel a customer to do business with you and come back – or renew their lease? And remember, those critical points of contact may be different for every customer you meet. Some obvious things to consider:

1. How is your curb appeal? Is the landscaping well-maintained and trash picked up? Does the entire property look great, or just the front entrance and area around the clubhouse? Residents want to take pride in how their home looks – both inside and out.
2. Are your team members well-mannered and gracious to everyone? Do they treat customers fairly and with respect? Are they helpful in person, on the phone and via e-mail?
3. Is the clubhouse inviting, with refreshments available?
4. Are the amenities well-maintained and open when residents wish to use them?
5. Are your maintenance personnel in uniforms with picture IDs so that they are easily identifiable by residents? Are they well groomed?
6. Is pet waste picked up around the property?
7. Is the American flag flying in front of your entrance in good repair and properly lit?
8. Do your office hours make it easy for prospects to visit your community?
9. Is your website easy to navigate and does it provide useful information? Are your social media posts appropriate and show your community’s image in the very best light? What is the customer’s first impression of you on-line?

As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In today’s competitive environment, it’s more important than ever to look critically at your property through the eyes of your customer. Commit to developing an Experience Map of your community today and get everyone on your team involved in the process. The results will be higher occupancy at maximum rents, better resident retention rates and a team focused on delivering excellent customer service.