Don’t you wish that more of your residents complained? Seriously??? The most important thing that we can do to help with resident retention is to encourage our residents to let us know when something is wrong so that we can make it right! We have to find ways to encourage our residents to give us feedback and let us know when they are unhappy. It’s the only way that we can correct problems and resolve issues for our valued customers.
Residents generally decide whether to renew their leases within the first two to four weeks of their initial move-in. That move-in experience is imprinted on their minds and “colors” the way they perceive the customer service they are experiencing. Shortfalls in responding to service issues or lack of attention to complaints about a resident’s neighbors can further erode the good will that you’re trying to build between the community team and your customers.
A study done by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs determined that only 4% of customers that are unhappy with a product or a service will complain about it. Of the 96% that don’t complain, 91% will decide not to do business with you again. And of those disappointed customers that don’t complain, 68% leave you because someone on your team treated them as if they didn’t care about them.
However, if a resident is unhappy and does complain – you have a HUGE opportunity to convert that person into one of your biggest fans. Research has determined that if you resolve a customer’s complaint quickly and fairly, they will do business with you again 70% of the time. And – those residents will report a higher level of satisfaction with their apartments and your community than the residents who experienced no problems!
So our mission should be two-fold. We should strive to meet or exceed our residents’ expectations. But, if we fall short, we have to work hard to recover fast and resolve our residents’ issues as quickly and as fairly as possible. As you plan your resident move-ins and lease renewal strategies in the year ahead, there are nine steps that you can take to keep your residents happy and resident retention percentages high:
1. Respond quickly to resident inquiries. No one likes to wait – especially residents. Whether it’s via phone or e-mail, make sure you are communicating with residents in a timely way. Return phone calls the same day. Studies have shown that customers expect an e-mail response within six hours. Additionally, make sure that the information you are sharing is complete and accurate.
2. Follow up, even when you don’t have an answer. Residents want to know that you’re staying on top of their problem, whatever it is. Remember, 68% of your residents that leave you will do so because they perceive you don’t care. If a part is on order, say so, and provide an estimate of how long the wait might be. Error on the side of caution. It’s better to over-estimate the time a resident must wait rather than underestimate it.