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Customers First: Why Customers Matter Most To Your Business
Written by Isabelle Leclaire on July 15th 2018
Any entrepreneur managing a thriving business will tell you that keeping customers happy is the key to their success. 

In the digital age, customer services can make or break company. Maintain high customer service standards and enjoy a growing customer base; ignore customer services and see how tricky it becomes to retain customers.

This is particularly true for property management businesses that are “people” intensive. Indeed the property manager has to keep two types of clients happy – the clients and the property occupier. Clients want their yield along with the assurance that their asset is gaining capital over time and is well-maintained. The property occupier wants to have a great living experience. 

If the property owner is the one who pays for a property management fee, the tenant pays for tenancy renewal. Both property owners and tenants could pay for other services...

But it’s up to the property management company to understand its client profiles really well and offer solutions to help them either maximise their gains (for the owner) or increase convenience of rental (for the tenant). Property managers need to strengthen their customer service teams by arming them with the skills and aptitude needed to nurture long-term relationships with clients. 

Here’s why customer service is so significant for the growth of your business:
1. Superior customer service builds trust
Only when you truly win your current customers over can you use them to generate leads. Competition in any industry is at an all-time high. Because there are so many options for customers to choose from, maintaining customer retention and loyalty is difficult. 

Now it’s true that in property management, there can be inertia amongst clients who are not happy but trust their management agent and don’t want to go through the headache of finding another one. There are very few property management agents that are so aggressive that they would try to attract clients that are already being managed by another agent.

However, a disappointment with customer service suffices to put this status quo in jeopardy and prompt the landlord or owner to search for another solution.

So if trust is given because the property manager understands the technical aspects of managing a given set of properties, and because of his experience in doing so, trust can be withdrawn if the property yield is not secured, the tenant happens to behave badly, the maintenance costs increase significantly, the rules and regulations have not been anticipated…

As a property manager you need to be aware and manage so many different fronts that if you don’t have systems to ensure a consistent quality of service, it’s easy to get bad surprises. Building strong relationships with customers in this day and age is challenging because of the pace of change, but it can be done; you just have to know your ideal clients’ profile because you know they will be profitable to your business. 

You also know their expectations and you will be able to delight them because you truly understand them. 

Prioritise customer service to make your business stand out amongst the rest. Customers appreciate brands that makes their lives easier so put in that extra effort to simplify things for your clients and to show them that you care. 

You need to relook at your internal systems and make sure they all converge into serving your customer to the best of your capacity. You would mainly have to look into the speed, transparency and quality of communication in each of your operating processes.
2. Customer service is more important than pricing
When companies deliver superior services, clients tend to remain loyal to them. Statistics show that 86% of customers will pay a higher price for better customer service. 

Compared to a few decades ago, businesses now have access to information about their customers; this information is then used to connect directly with them. Customers are more likely to respond to marketing messages that cater to their needs, than those that try to attract them with lower prices. 

Property management companies have an insight into their clients’ lifestyle, wealth ambitions, professional situation, family responsibilities, and deep knowledge about the property portfolio types and ecosystem of the properties locations. How are property management companies leveraging such extensive information to benefit their business?

How could this information serve the property manager into crafting services on top of the dry and unsexy management fee? Could these services be priced with a good margin because they are highly personalised?

There is no doubt that with a great customer service, which means great intelligence into clients profiles, property management could create new revenue streams from value added and well priced services.
3. Customer service builds brand awareness
When a company exceeds the expectations of a customer, they are bound to talk about it! Thanks to social media platforms, customers have more transparency than ever. A few minutes of browsing over the Internet gives you a good idea of the quality of the products and services companies are offering. 

A responsive and helpful customer service team will always earn brownie points from customers; amaze them with your services and watch your sales go up!

It’s interesting to see that this does not seem to be a rule for property management companies. Many are still shy to go on line and provide customer feedback. There are ways to manage disappointed customers and those who speak negatively about your company. But there is no way you can develop a relationship with a client who is not interested to comment on your level of services. 

Establishing ongoing written, verbal and digital communications with your clients so that you stay top of mind and understand your clients experiences with your business.
4. Customer service minimises problems
Problems arise in all businesses. Businesses can’t guarantee that all transactions with customers will go smoothly. However, when customers know that they can rely on you to help, the damage caused by the bad transaction is minimised. 

When you manage properties, you are bound to face all type of issues at one point, you just don’t know when and how bad—especially with maintenance costs. You don’t know when things will break, and that time you don’t know what will be the repair costs, and whether you will be able to ensure a rapid repair or not. This will depend of many factors, notably the relationships you nurture with your contractors.

Anyway, the important point here is that if you develop a great customer service, you will educate your clients into anticipating the worst, and getting ready for the better. But it’s not just about having these practical discussions with your clients upfront. It’s also your ability to plan, the level of information you manage for each property and your sense of details.

There is a lot that can be prevented with a good maintenance plan, which is backed up with tenants feedbacks (that everything is running well and there is no issue left pending) and by regular property visits / audit. These are opportunities to discuss with the property owner and the tenants and deepen the relationship. Great customer service can survive any problem no matter the gravity because the property owner, tenant and manager are all in the same business of making sure the property offers a great experience to live in.
5. Customers are more than a number
Back in the day, the focus of a business was to close a deal and get on with the property’s stewardship. This mindset is no longer enough to match customers’ requirements. 

Today’s customers have an overwhelming number of choices; if they aren’t satisfied by your services, they’ll move on to someone else’s if they don’t decide to care of it themselves. 

Modern customers want to feel unique; customer service enables this individual approach to clients. By enhancing customer service continously, you’re ensuring your providing customers with what they need. 

This human touch that makes sure a difference in customer service can’t come from a business that has always done what is does the way it does it. It can’t come from traditional approach. It can’t come from a technical mindset. When property managers are focussing on property instead of focussing on people connected to the property, the human touch is lost.

It takes a mindset shift for property management companies to bring the human values of their businesses at the centre of their preoccupation instead of letting the administrative tasks and reactive problem solving run their routine. This is challenging as customers keeps evolving. A great customer service must be continuously improved. In fact, it has to become part of the business culture.

Isabelle Leclaire

Isabelle helps property management businesses grow by delivering better customer service and manufacturing client referrals. She is a business growth specialist who believes customer service is great leverage for predictable growth in people-intensive industries. If you're stuck with inefficient systems and disengaged clients, reach out and book a free strategy session today.
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