This article was posted on Saturday, Mar 01, 2014

[I recently read] an article about the importance of not losing money on poor customer service over the phone. There were some great tips for owners and marketing or regional managers to implement.

The article made me think about my own experience on both sides of that equation.  As a renter, I have definitely hung up the phone and thought, “There is no way I want to have to interact with that person when my toilet’s broken.”

Maybe not every renter thinks about it that directly, but the first human interaction (usually on the phone) is a significant step in the selling process. Customer service isn’t rocket science. In fact, most of us already know the basics of how we should treat people on the job, and how we want to be treated when we call a business.

It’s easy to get caught up in everything that has to be done and forget to slow down and make the person in front of you (on the phone or in person) the priority at that moment. Here are five reminders for anyone who answers the phone calls from leads:

Remember That the Prospect is Not Your Enemy

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Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. You probably don’t think of someone looking for an apartment as your enemy. But, maybe you’re multitasking and tired, a resident just called to complain about something out of your control, there’s maintenance requests to process and a previous resident just wrote an unfair and angry review online…but remember this person on the phone is not against you.

Don’t take all that stress into the phone conversation. Check your attitude and take a deep breath.

Remember to Ask Lots of Questions

Ask genuine questions to find out what they are looking for and what they need. The more you understand the prospect, the easier it is to present your community as the answer and solution. You have what they need. Asking questions to learn more about them also transitions nicely into asking to schedule a tour.

Remember to Ask Their Name and Use it When You Speak to Them

Not only is this a polite habit, but it can also make a prospect feel a personal connection to you and the community. Having a personal connection is key to selling anything. I believe you can be incredible at marketing and be sincerely honest without being manipulative. You just have to care about that person and be respectful; which matters beyond fair housing.

Remember to be Prepared and Know Your Stuff

You know when you go to a restaurant and you ask about the soup of the day and the waiter doesn’t know what it is? Sure, you can be patient, but in some ways, it just seems strange because knowing what’s on the menu is their job.

As a leasing agent, you must know what units you have to offer, the details of your pet policy, the square footage of bedrooms, if there are east-facing windows and the name of the nearby elementary school. Being able to quickly answer questions and concerns on the phone moves that prospect one step closer to becoming a new resident. 

Remember That You are Simply Talking

To a Person Who is Looking for a Home

A home is a safe place where someone feels welcome and secure. A warm, inviting, pleasant tone can make all the difference in getting the lead to schedule a tour. Usually, people looking for apartments are exhausted with the process, have called lots of other people and their eyes have begun to glaze over when they search on Craigslist.

You can stand out from the crowd by remembering that this is an individual looking for a place to live, laugh, cook meals, celebrate, relax, decompress, and enjoy life. The more you make it easy for them to imagine feeling comfortable at your community, the more your leads will turn to leases.

What kind of person would YOU want to talk to when you’re searching for an apartment?

Crystal Hadidian is Creative Director at Resident360 (  and blogger at Multifamily Insiders-   Reprinted with permission.

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