Customer Service Beats Technology in 2020

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Handshake = Customer Service

Great news for us humans: other humans still want quality customer service from us!

According to a recent HousingWire article with insights on What Renters Want More of in 2020, even though technology has generally made great breakthroughs in multifamily housing, a majority of renters still want that human interaction before signing on the dotted line. In fact, only 14% of renters indicated that they would rent an apartment sight unseen. If your organization is testing virtual tours or hinting at other ways technology could replace good ole’ fashion humans, don’t despair!

Human Interaction

The human interaction is so important and I would honestly wager that it will always be in some significant way. Virtual tours and online showcasing is a great way to gather information, just as renters are currently researching online and have done so for many years. Online marketing is a great resource for a prospective renter to do their own analysis through our websites, third party review sites, ILS, social media, and more.

The problem? Much of the information and media available are controlled and curated and people largely value authenticity. Renters do not want to fall victim to a bait-and-switch because of photoshop or paid review scams. The in-person tour is meant to validate the prospective renter’s online findings and initial impression.

Toy Robot
Robots are cool, but not fully necessary yet according to prospective renters in 2020.

Dating Your Community?

The in-person tour is like that first date. My friend Jami Anderson, one of the best trainers in multifamily, expands on this very metaphor with her onsite sales teams. If trying to rent an apartment is like dating, then technology is a great way to lower barriers to information gathering and initiate communication, but real people still hold the key to that final conversion. Similar to the new era of dating, if the online profile looks good, the prospect will be interested, but honestly— how crazy is this person? Are they fake? Did they photoshop their pics? Or did I really get that lucky? We’ll only truly know if we get a chance to meet them in person.

All the pretty pictures, virtual tours, and chatbots online cannot overcome a poorly developed or unengaged onsite team.

The human element is what helps confirm all the great stuff a prospective renter sees online. And I say this as a marketing guy— all the pretty pictures, virtual tours, and chatbots online cannot overcome a poorly developed or unengaged onsite team. The quality of your people still matters. Invest in your teams to be knowledgeable, empathetic, and all-around-good people to interact with your customers because it still matters to your customers. Treat your team with kindness and compassion— then expect greatness from them. As these recent studies have shown, they are still the key to guiding your customer across the finish line!

Customer Service = People

Tech is exciting and fresh new things are always coming around. Also true is that time-tested customer service principles will always serve as a solid foundation for the multifamily housing industry. We are a people business, through and through. In 2020 and beyond, people are still > technology!

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