Contact centers are great for making sure the phone gets answered 24/7/365, but they don’t always move the rental prospect into the next logical step in the leasing process. They don’t have enough information about the apartment community/sister communities, don’t have insight into the prospect at a person-centric level and they don’t ask the prospect the right questions.
Here’s what multifamily operators need to know about contact centers so you can ask better questions of them and find a good match for your apartment communities.
Why Doesn’t Your Contact Center Get the Results You Want?
1. Incorrect Training
Historically, contact centers train their associates in a scripted workflow -- maybe even with a tight script to follow. That makes sense from a training point of view, yet this approach misses out on the organic conversation that can occur with a prospect.
When a prospect calls for more information, the contact center representative could ask questions to help guide them to the next logical step. Do they have pets? What types of amenities are important to them?
Instead of asking questions, most contact center representatives simply rattle off a list of community features hoping that something will land for the prospect. A better way is to have a conversation with the prospect and discover what matters to them so you can get to the heart of how they are going to make a buying decision.
It sounds intuitive but it’s challenging to train staff in this approach because it’s more subjective and taxing on management. It’s difficult to train how to build rapport and ask the questions needed to help make the best match for the potential resident than it is to simply list the features of a community, but when it’s done well, the lead-to-lease ratio increases and costs go down. Ensuring contact center representatives ask the right questions is the goal of the entire interaction.
2. Lack of Accountability and Resourcefulness
Some contact centers don’t hold themselves accountable to a certain level of service or they don’t have the right resources to offer a top notch consumer experience.
For example, if answering the phone is prioritized, do the individual representatives ensure they answer the phone? Once they answer the phone, what happens next? Are they asking the right questions? How are they helping the prospect take the next logical step in the process?
Do they have the needed resources at their fingertips? Do they know the unit availability and have rental unit pricing available? Do they have data rich neighborhood information and are they able to have a dynamic conversation about the neighborhood, bridging the gap between the contact center and the onsite teams?
3. No Good Feedback Loop
360-degree feedback is necessary between the contact center and the customers. Are contact center representatives getting the customer’s feedback? This simple yes or no question from management which will shed light on how the contact center operates.
4. The Contact Center Isn’t Treated as an Extension of Your Team
Many multifamily operators look at the contact center as the vendor who makes sure the phone is answered. However, if you look at them as an extension of your team, you’ll have a different viewpoint.
You’ll recognize that the way they treat prospects carries over to your leasing team. If they’re friendly and knowledgeable that leaves the prospective lessee with a very different feeling than if they talk to someone who simply reads off a bunch of features and isn’t able to answer additional questions about the neighborhood or specific units in the apartment community.
You also have to recognize that when you use a contact center, to some extent, you’re embracing their way of handling a call. Make sure the way they handle calls is in alignment with your needs. Sometimes property management has a rigid call flow that they want the contact center to follow that doesn’t fit their current training. They’re not likely to revamp their entire training to incorporate the desires of one client because it’s not cost effective for them.
Choosing a contact center comes down to setting expectations and asking the right questions at the beginning. For example, how are calls handled and is the approach in alignment with how calls are answered onsite? What about follow up? While it’s common for onsite leasing representatives to handle follow up rather than contact center representatives, is that process clearly understood between property management and the contact center?
It’s also important to track how the follow up is handled. Leverage an intelligent relationship management platform to ensure how and when follow up occurs and automate communication when it will improve efficiency.
The reasons contact centers generally fail to drive real results is often due to a misalignment between the contact center’s operational reality and the onsite staff’s expectations. If you’re hiring a contact center, be sure to ask the right questions related to your multifamily operation.
The way prospects shop and lease for apartments has changed over the years. Discover how you can maximize conversions with your current lead generation by downloading this paper: Driving NOI Growth in Multifamily.