The number one complaint . . . by a longshot . . . we get from our tenants and people who are interested in our homes is, “Why don’t you answer the phone?”.
If you read our reviews, people who score us very low, are generally complaining about our interaction with them and complain specifically about this subject.
As a consumer myself, I agree it is frustrating to want to talk with someone and not be able to? Because we believe in uncomfortable transparency, I’d like to give you a “peek behind the curtain” to explain why . . .
1. We get thousands of phone calls every week
This is everything from people looking for homes, current tenants, and owners. We would need a team (a very large team) of people to answer all the calls . . . and really, we would love to hire that team. The only problem is to have that many people on the payroll would affect what we would need to charge our owners for our services.
If we charge our owners more, then they would in turn increase the rent on the homes to cover our additional costs. That would just make the homes more expensive to rent than they are now…and that’s not something we believe tenants want!
What’s our solution?
Since most of the calls (95%+) are for people looking for homes, we implemented a bunch of user friendly technology solutions for seeing a home. The first thing we’ve done is attempt to make our website extremely user friendly.
Most people have similar questions when they are looking for a home and we attempt to answer those questions for every home we have listed for rent. Secondly, we use technologically advanced ways to see our homes. We use a self-showing service to allow people who want to see the home to simply show themselves the home. What’s easier than doing it yourself?
While technology is not perfect and loses the “human touch”, we are working on more ways to bring humanity into our leasing process . . . so stay tuned!
2. We think it is best to communicate in writing
- For Record Keeping – this is not a new concept, but one that is important when you are dealing with contracts and agreements made between multiple parties. We much prefer to make sure there is no breakdown in communication and prefer to make sure all promises are made – including the promises we make to you. We have a number of employees that tenants may communicate with, so having it all in writing also helps them “get up to speed” on the situation quickly.
- Efficiency – You can imagine when we are getting thousands of weekly inquiries for homes to rent and currently have 700+ tenants and 400+ owners there is a lot of communicating that goes on. We’d much prefer to have one point of contact and let US get the message in the right person’s hand to answer the question. That way the person looking for a home, the tenant or the owner don’t have to decide who is best to answer their question. We are also able to track how quickly people are getting back with the sender. This makes us able to provide a consistent product to the people we work with.
- Make sure nothing gets missed – You can imagine with all those people asking questions, things can get lost in the shuffle. That is why each inquiry is logged in our system as a case. We are able to track the case from creation to its resolution. Any open case means that the item has not been answered.
What is our solution?
In our office we have two people who do nothing but assign cases (cases are questions from tenants and owners that need to be responded to) to people in the office and organize our communication. We believe so much in communication, we’ve hired people to be in charge of it!
To kick off a case, anyone can simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we receive your email, it will be reviewed by our operations coordinator and answered if they know the answer or can get the answer. If they can’t answer it, then they will assign the case to the most knowledgeable person in the office so they can answer it. They also manage the backend to make certain that all the team members are answering questions in a timely manner.
See how easily it works?
I saw a this infographic saying that 80% of people who contacted customer service preferred someone to respond to them via a phone call.
Email is a distant second on the list.
If we could, we would love to give the people who contact us a wonderful experience.
I’m curious, now that you know a little bit of the “inside”, what do you think you would like to see from gk with regard to answering the phone?