Flexible communication tools are a vital ingredient of a virtual leasing office, along with a high-performing website and virtual tours. There was a time when email was king of property management communication tools. It’s still important and a key component of flexible communication. However, even before COVID, this trend shifted. People no longer want to interact with people to conduct their business via phone, and fewer people are responding to email.
Consumers want to do as much as possible on their phones, through text messages and chat apps: 58% of consumers have tried to reply with a text message after missing a call from a business. And consumers are 4 times more likely to respond to a text message than call back to a voicemail. (Source)
This customer-driven shift is not over, and “it’s time to embrace the benefits of it,” says ResMan’s founder and President Elizabeth Francisco. “Our industry is behind. We use terms like customer conversion and customer retention when we should be hyper-focused on the customer experience. That experience is driven by expectations, which are driven by emerging technology used by brands like Amazon and Netflix.”
Where Customer Communications Is…and Is Going
- Email: As we’ve stated, email is still important, especially for global blasts to your entire resident population. But it has grown up. Without modern, flexible tools, email can be time-consuming and inefficient for staff. A super simple platform that allows your staff to automate and customize templated messaging is the answer.
Imagine being able to standardize your messaging across all your properties and ensure that every communication sent reflects the professionalism, tone, and experience you want for your residents. This is where email shines.
- Integrated SMS/Text: Business text messaging is emerging as a leading tool for providing contextual and conversational experiences, with 85% of consumers wanting to be able to send texts to and receive texts from businesses. (Source) It’s the fastest, most convenient, and singularly preferred channel for communicating with organizations.
Open rates tell the story. While email open rates have dropped to ~25%, SMS open rates are at an astounding 90+%, allowing property managers to communicate with residents and prospects more efficiently. It’s even more efficient if your texting capability is integrated into your property management software.
If you haven’t moved to integrated SMS/text messaging, you’re already behind the curve. Texting is powerful for your client, but when SMS is integrated into your property management software, your staff can become communication rockstars providing stellar customer experiences.
Integrated SMS allows staff to view an ongoing text thread with any resident from any screen in your software that contains their information. You simply click to continue the dialogue. In seconds, any staff member can be up to date on all text conversations with that individual, no matter which leasing agent has been a part of the conversation.
This is important for both conversions and retention. If a prospect looking at multiple properties can only be reached via email or phone call with answers for their questions or to set up an appointment, any property manager with text messaging can beat you to the punch. This is true not only in terms of speed, but also of providing the customer experience potential residents are looking for. For current residents who are late on their rent or need maintenance help, a quick text message shortens communication time and is more likely to get a response.
- Chatbots: The next step in the evolution of flexible communication tools for property managers is AI. Artificial intelligence is not the future for your customers; it’s already here. They already browse sites where completely automated cyber robots start a conversation with them, then hand them over to a human for a live chat, if needed.
Remember, fewer consumers than ever want to deal face-to-face or by phone with a person, especially for their initial evaluation of offerings. The property management industry has lagged in the adoption of emerging communication technology, but chatbots are on their way. To stay competitive, property managers must have a mindset that prioritizes innovation for creating a positive customer experience.
ResMan’s Flexible Communication Tools
ResMan property management software continually drives innovation with simple yet flexible communication tools for your virtual leasing office, including:
- Integrated SMS/Text messaging to communicate with staff and residents via unlimited messages and tracked conversations in a single, intuitive platform.
- Customizable, automated email tools, with built-in templates and merge fields.
- Chatbots: In development.
- Internal communications: Staff can assign tasks in workflow and annotate customer profiles with notes to keep everyone on the same page.