Almost every industry seeks to improve its customer’s experience in hopes to increase performance and revenue, and multifamily is no exception.
During the 2021 AIM session Best Practices in Resident Experience, industry panelists discussed the challenges with creating a positive resident experience and the solutions they’ve implemented not only to improve the experience, but to turn it into genuine value for them.
In multifamily, the customers are the residents and as panelists pointed out, the resident experience is different from that of customers in other industries.
“It’s more complex, it’s different as we have a different way that we engage with residents,” said John Hinckley, senior vice president of Living Suite at Real Page. “There are a lot of things we have to put together.”
The biggest component to creating a good resident experience is overcoming the fragmented experience between all parties involved, from the onsite teams to the resident, panelists said.
“We’ve done a lot of work as to shaping what the resident experience looks like and it’s made up of all these micro moments,” said Tammy Yeargan, director of marketing at Fogleman properties. “We need to make sure that we’ve got the technology that makes it easier for the onsite teams to implement micro moments and make them seamless.”
While technology and various touch points throughout the customer journey, in conjunction with their feedback, are imperative to creating a positive resident experience, panelists urged to avoid causing friction for your onsite team members.
“The resident experience should be seamless, but oftentimes teams are hindered because you have a multitude of products,” said Mike Ivy, vice president of Living Suite at RealPage. “The challenge is getting the information you need in one single pane of glass and see what’s working.”
Find a balance and remember that regardless of the technology involved, it’s still a human experience.
“There’s nothing better in a customer's journey than to go back to the basics and focus on providing good service by friendly people who care,” said Holly Granger, vice president of marketing at Sares-Regis Group. “So our main focus is to create a cohesive community and make people want to live and stay.”
To achieve balance and provide a resident experience with a sense of community, panelists suggest avoiding the cookie-cutter approaches and think outside the box by utilizing a combination of tools.
“Our technology stack is not one single stack from one vendor,” said Kelly Shannon, senior vice president of marketing and customer engagement at Bozzuto. “We’ve curated best-in-class solutions that plug together and the information flows seamlessly back and forth.”
“If we’re not having seamless experiences with the technology we’re delivering, it’s more challenging and it ultimately impacts what we’re able to do,” she said.
Beyond using technology, customer feedback is essential to the resident experience. Panelists said that operators must recognize that residents are a company’s brand advocates.
So how do you get a resident's input and learn from that information?
“It really starts at the move-in. You have to build a relationship with the residents and understand what they’re looking for from you as an operator,” Yeargan said.
Sometimes that involves asking residents to take a survey or hosting a focus group where they will share their insights. As Granger said, “ask, listen and then do.”
By extracting insights from the data, operators can understand trends better and see not only where they’ve been, but where they are going in terms of improving the resident experience.
Bozzuto hosts resident appreciation day, or RAD, and uses that as a time not only to show residents they care, but to entice them to engage and provide feedback.
“We then saw a huge spike in reviews,” Shannon said. “Then we take all of that information and pivot accordingly, giving residents the assurance that we’re meeting their needs.”
As the panelists noted, every resident is unique but each of their experiences will determine what others consider when deciding whether to move to or stay at a community. Panelists advised to cultivate and maintain that human connection throughout the entire process, making every resident experience a special one.
- John Hinckley, SVP of Living Suite at RealPage and former cofounder and CEO of Modern Message
- Holly Granger, VP of Marketing, Sares Regis
- Kelley Shannon, SVP of Marketing & Customer Engagement, Bozzuto
- Tammy Yeargan, Marketing Director, Fogelman
- Mike Ivey, VP of Product, RealPage