Localz shares some of the top engagement strategies that landlords can employ to improve relationships with residents
Improving the tenant experience has always been an important—albeit sometimes perplexing—piece of the puzzle for landlords and property managers, but now, new legislation will make it crucial to have a comprehensive tenant experience strategy in place.
Following the deadly 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in West London, which investigations showed was a result of neglecting to address significant resident safety concerns for years, the U.K. government published a Social Housing White Paper in 2020 that laid out policies it alleged would realign the relationship between social landlords and tenants.
In April 2022, the government finally announced much-awaited next steps, which include plans to establish a new national resident panel, to name and shame landlords failing to meet the standards being brought in under the Social Housing Regulation Bill, and to give the Regulator of Social Housing the power to introduce new tenant satisfaction measures.
While this is a great step forward for bettering relationships between tenants and landlords, resident satisfaction and tenant retention ideas should always be top-of-mind for property managers, whether or not there’s legislation in place.
Establishing and nurturing solid relationships with tenants leads to longer stays, increased occupancy at properties, and invaluable word-of-mouth referrals—not to mention, happy residents.
And a successful tenant experience strategy can be boiled down to one key factor: engagement. Here are some of the top engagement strategies that landlords can employ to improve relationships with residents.
Get repairs done fast
It likely comes as no surprise that one of the biggest challenges that landlords face—and one of the biggest headaches for residents—is the time taken to carry out repairs.
Responsive repairs were, indeed, the most common category of complaint from leaseholders and shared owners between 2018 and 2020, according to a Housing Ombudsman Service report.
And although completing repairs can be a struggle, as property managers must wait on parts and sometimes schedule multiple appointments with residents to finish a job, anything that hinders or delays repairs is a big problem for landlords looking to improve the resident experience.
Thankfully, these issues can largely be solved with tenant experience software, like that from last-mile delivery solutions provider Localz.
“Establishing and nurturing solid relationships with tenants leads to longer stays, increased occupancy at properties, and invaluable word-of-mouth referrals – not to mention, happy residents”
This kind of self-service solution allows tenants to book and reschedule service appointments that work around their schedule and lifestyle, as well as enables open communication and transparency about repairs.
Because it provides autonomy, flexibility, and two-way communication, software for property maintenance companies gets repair jobs done the first time by reducing no-access appointments and improving first-time fix rates.
Importantly, it also reduces stress for residents on their day of service by sending automated notifications and real-time ETA tracking.
If a job can’t be completed until a part arrives, tenant experience software also simplifies property manager customer service by keeping residents in the loop via a web-based customer portal and automated notifications to schedule the final appointment.
Understand the tenant’s perspective
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their mindset and attitude is a time-honored approach to building an authentic relationship (and generally having empathy).
And it’s no different for the tenant-landlord relationship—in fact, it can thoroughly highlight where enhancements are needed.
In a recent interview, Housing Digital’s Liam Turner spoke with Localz about how housing providers can improve customer engagement. One essential suggestion: Understand the tenant experience from the perspective of the tenant.
To do this, Localz recommends regularly “mystery shopping”: Have colleagues go through different engagement methods from a resident’s perspective to elucidate points of friction, frustration, and excessive red tape. Then, property managers can use this insight to gain an understanding of how their services are performing and prioritize areas for improvement.
It seems simple enough, but according to the Housing Ombudsman Service report, the most common reason for maladministration was complaint handling.
Clearly, it behooves property managers to reflect on ways to improve how they deal with complaints—more easily done when seeing the situation through the tenant’s eyes.
Show residents you value their feedback
Sitting around waiting for tenants to complain about an issue won’t get you anywhere; if you care about tenant retention and satisfaction, you need to proactively solicit resident feedback.
With tenant experience software like that from Localz, property managers can trigger automated feedback requests through the tenant portal upon job completion.
This not only shows residents that you value their feedback; it also encourages tenants to share their thoughts while the appointment is still top-of-mind, and it helps you identify problems before they escalate.
According to Localz research, 35% of feedback happens within five minutes of the completion of a service appointment job. The longer you wait to ask for a tenant’s thoughts on their repair, the more you increase the margin for inaccuracy due to their misremembering the event.
Likewise, an automated survey that prompts feedback after a technician leaves—versus asking residents to report it directly to their serviceperson—eliminates awkward interactions and promotes honest responses.
Real-time customer surveys provide feedback that’s actionable, representative, and accurate—and they can help property managers save on costs like follow-up calls. In fact, Localz findings show that instant feedback requests can reduce chase calls by up to 83%.
Of course, actually putting the feedback to use is critical to a holistic tenant experience strategy. Once you have your insights in hand, take action by identifying what went wrong, acknowledging responsibility—addressing all the issues raised in a complaint—and outlining the action to put things right, as well as the timeline on which it will happen.
This may include an apology, compensation, further repairs, and finding new contractors.
Stay open to ongoing improvement
Making the tenant experience better isn’t a one-and-done thing; nurturing positive relationships with residents and boosting retention and satisfaction is a continuous process. But it’s one that can be easily managed with a toolkit of customer engagement solutions.
These include tending to repairs quickly and with clear communication; understanding situations and frustrations from your tenants’ perspective; and gathering feedback that you act on quickly—all while using tenant experience software that supports your progress.
Housing Digital Stakeholder Localz is a mobile workforce solutions company that provides customer notifications, live ETA tracking, two-way communications, and real-time feedback around housing appointments.
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