The stories below are calls that representatives received in the Anyone Home contact center. Some of the calls are humorous and should generate a belly-laugh! At the end of the day, regardless of the nature of the calls, the combination of the contact center’s training, representatives' experience and collective teamwork succeeded in giving the callers an exceptional experience.
Call #1: Who Ya Gonna Call?
A resident called into the contact center in the middle of the night requesting a technician as soon as possible. The representative that answered the call said, “Great, we’re happy to help you out with that. What’s the problem?”The resident was evasive. “No, no, I just need someone to come out right way.” The representative prodded more. “I’m more than happy to help you, but to make sure that we get the right technician out, I need to know what the problem is.” After some back and forth, eventually the resident described hearing thumps in the wall. The representative asked if the resident thought that there was an issue with the pipes or a rodent. The resident said that he believed that there was a ghost in his apartment and wanted a technician out to remove it. He was so scared that he was afraid to turn off the lights in his apartment. The representative, understanding the resident’s fears, dispatched a technician to the residence. The issue turned out to be a rodent in the wall. The representative called the resident back to let him know that it was a rodent and that pest control was scheduled to come out the next day. No proton pack or Ghostbusters uniform was required.
Contact centers train representatives to ask deep diving questions in order to get to the main problem, while maintaining composure. Troubleshooting helps the representative solve the problem on the first call. Empathy for residents, no matter how eerie the situation seems, is the foundation of customer service and of a contact center that is prospect centered.
Call #2: The Cold Shoulder
A frantic resident called the contact center five times in one day. She reported that her freezer was broken and that she had $300 worth of food that would go bad if it wasn’t repaired. She was very upset. The representative, understanding the resident’s panic and fear of wasting food and money, called a technician to go out to inspect the problem. The technician reported that they had already been to the resident’s apartment and had diagnosed the problem. The resident’s freezer was too full and she needed to remove some items to allow air to circulate throughout the freezer. Although the resident was told this before, the representative called the resident back to gently tell her again. While the resident was not happy with the outcome, the representative offered as many ideas as possible to resolve the issue, including suggesting that the resident fill a cooler with ice and that she put some of the food in there while the freezer recirculated the air. The representative even suggested that she make a big dinner for that night to keep the food from spoiling.
Not every prospect or current resident will be happy with the outcome of a situation. It is important that the contact center representative pulls from professional and personal experiences to help resolve the issue or to at least exhaust all reasonable possibilities. It is also important that the representative maintain professionalism regardless of the caller’s demeanor.
Call #3: The California Experience
A prospective resident called into the contact center five minutes before the representative that answered was supposed to sign off and go home. The resident asked, ”Do you have time to talk? This will take a while, I need about 15 minutes.” Although it was almost time for the representative to leave for the day, she told him that she did have time. The prospective resident was relocating to San Diego and wanted to make sure that he lived in a community that would give him the whole “California experience.” He wanted to be close to the beach and within walking distance to a grocery store. He wanted a two-car garage and he wanted to be close to restaurants. The representative researched communities, based on the prospect’s criteria, using Anyone Home’s Neighborhood SMARTBASE and Unit-Specific DNA. This technology takes into account both property and neighborhood attributes. Using the mapping interface, she researched and found a sister property that offered everything that he requested, except for the two-car garage. The community had a one-car garage with space for another car.
The information about the area and community was so thorough and detailed that the prospect didn’t even realize that he had called the contact center. He assumed that he had been speaking directly with an on-site staff member, until he was told differently.
When a contact center empowers their representatives with the right tools to help callers, the service level is heightened. There should not be a disruption of service or bottleneck in the prospect receiving information no matter if the call comes in at nine in the morning or nine at night. Some contact centers will limit a representative’s use of the internet and other tools for fear of distraction. However, having the tools available is far more advantageous than restricting them.
Call #4: It’s Getting Hot in Here
Some women have described pregnancy as feeling like an alien has taken over their bodies. From cravings to attempting to regulate body temperature, a woman can have unpredictable experiences. The contact center received a call from a woman who said that her air conditioning wasn’t working. While it wasn’t hot enough for this to be considered an emergency during that time of year, the resident said that she was extremely miserable and very pregnant. No matter what she did to change the thermostat, her apartment did not cool. The contact center representative reached out to the technician, requesting that someone go to the residence to help. Coincidently, the technician’s wife was pregnant as well and he totally understood what the resident was going through. He rushed over as soon as possible to help.
Representatives that have empathy for residents in the most vulnerable situations are invaluable. The representative was also able to convey the issue appropriately to the technician, who pulled from his experience and was able empathize because of his pregnant wife. Employing a contact center is not just hiring representatives on the phone, but also integrating a team that goes out and services the customer.
A partnership with the right contact center functions as an extension of your on-site leasing staff. In addition to having the basic knowledge about your property, a prospect-centric contact center has representatives that bring a foundation of customer service, problem solving and positive engagement. Every interaction with prospective and current residents is met with responsiveness to questions or problems.
Hiring a contact center has multiple benefits for your apartment community. Those benefits include round-the-clock responsiveness and freeing up your on-site staff.
Remember, a contact center has to offer more than just nice voices on the other end of the phone. Contact centers that are able to quickly resolve the problems of both prospective residents and current residents are key. This skill is not developed through a pre-written script, but through hiring and training representatives to focus on the community and to ask the right questions that help resolve problems. This approach will ensure the delivery of a high standard of service that complements and strengthens the opportunity to convert leads to leases and to satisfy existing residents.