It’s easy to get hyper-focused on the fair housing rules and regulations when it comes to property management. But we need to remember that an integral part of what we do is steeped in customer service. Our residents and prospects are customers and need to be treated accordingly. In addition, it stands to reason that when our customers or residents feel well cared for, they are less likely to file a complaint. Let’s discuss three aspects that can lead to an exceptional customer or resident experience.
Your resident is speaking but are you truly listening? An effective communicator will listen intently. Listening intently requires that you are focused on what’s being said, not how you are going to reply. By doing this, not only do you get a better understanding of what’s needed, the resident will feel valued and understood.
Follow-up is another part of effective communication. Most issues raised by residents are seldom resolved in one visit or phone call. Ensure you continue communicating with your residents until the situation is resolved.
Effective communication can come easily when everyone involved is in a good place or state of mind, but it may be particularly challenging when emotions are running high. What can you do? The next aspect we will consider is imperative to handling these types of situations.
Respect While Being Disrespected
There is a saying that respect is a two-way street. We naturally want to be treated with the same dignity and respect we show our residents. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case.
A common situation we see is when a maintenance request has not been handled in a timely manner, at least as far as the resident is concerned. Remember that it is imperative that you always stay calm. Reassure your resident that they have been heard, and you will take appropriate action to try and find a resolution. Hopefully, by showing them respect and maintaining your patience, you can defuse the situation and create an environment that encourages the resident to do the same.
Part of effective communication and being respectful is having a thorough knowledge and training of your company’s policies and procedures. It stands to reason that in order to help your resident, you need to know how to answer their questions. The final part of this article will detail why this is important.
Knowing Your Policies and Procedures So You Know How to Answer
Imagine you are the resident, and you need information. Would you be happy if the person behind the desk or on the grounds gave you a vague or confusing response? Probably not. Being well-versed in your company’s policies and procedures allows you to answer quickly and efficiently, which can go a long way if the person is already agitated. It can also help us avoid giving out misinformation.
To that point, every person who has contact with your residents should be trained in your policies and procedures so that the information disbursed is the same and will help you avoid a potential fair housing complaint or accusation of discrimination.
Property management companies face many different and challenging situations every day. Training and role-playing can help you develop the skills of effective communication, respect, and a thorough knowledge of policies and procedures, which in turn will help you deliver the exceptional customer experience you want to give.
Article contributed by The Fair Housing Institute. Kathelene is a co-founder and partner in the Fair Housing Institute, Inc. Kathelene (Kathi) Williams is also a partner in the Law Firm of Williams Edelstein & Tucker, P.C. providing defense and preventative representation for the housing industry in all civil rights matters. Reprinted with permission of Multifamily Insiders. Multifamily Insiders was created to provide the first true online networking group for the multifamily industry and its partners. For more information, visit www.multifamilyinsiders.com.