“Just install a new ceiling fan.” That was the simple direction from Mark Juleen, V.P. of Marketing from J.C. Hart, a prominent builder, developer, and manager of apartment complexes. Here’s the quick story that led to that simple decision.
A new resident moved into their apartment. When they had looked at the apartment in advance, it had a ceiling fan, which they kind of liked. When they moved in, however, the ceiling fan was gone. It wasn’t necessarily a big deal, but it was a feature they liked. After 30 days, the residents received a request for feedback about their move-in experience. They mentioned the ceiling fan that was in the apartment prior to signing the lease had been removed. Seeing the feedback in their online customer management system, Juleen sent a note to the maintenance crew, “Just install a new ceiling fan.”
Pretty simple, right? Let’s look more closely at what happened. When apartments are being prepared for new residents, the maintenance staff is instructed to remove anything the previous renter installed. In this case – a ceiling fan. They were just following procedures. Nobody did anything wrong. Three things could have happened from there.
- One, the resident notices no ceiling fan, is a bit disgruntled, but doesn’t say anything.
- Two, the resident notices no ceiling fan, mentions something to the maintenance staff who may say, “Sorry – just following procedures.”
- Three, the resident notices no ceiling fan, responds to a request for feedback, and the issue is addressed.
Obviously, in the third scenario, the resident had the opportunity to see the responsiveness that Juleen desires. In fact, he wants a resident like that to tell others that J.C. Hart goes out of their way to make sure they are happy.
This could just be luck. Or, it could be an intelligent system that Juleen set up to make sure they’re responding to customer issues. Juleen’s program has three components:
- They request feedback 30 days after move-in. This allows them to know if the customer experience is off to a good start.
- They request feedback after any maintenance issue is closed. This allows them to know if the experience of having something fixed left them with a positive or negative impression.
- They conduct a slightly longer survey halfway through their lease. This goes into more depth to understand the things they are doing well and the things they need to improve. Most importantly, it allows them to anticipate whether a resident will be renewing their lease. This important piece of information helps them understand if a resident is moving because they are dissatisfied or they are simply moving on. Either way, they can anticipate the number of vacancies they may have – a vital piece of information in property management.
Replacing the ceiling fan is a relatively simple decision to make a customer happy. But it’s the product of a really good system. In other words, a better customer insight system leads to better decisions, which leads to better business.