Tenant Experience and Remote Support: How Property Management Organizations are Transforming Service

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TechSee explores how to boost the tenant experience
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Right across the housing sector, tenants aren’t just seen as renters anymore – they are now considered clients. They want to communicate on their preferred channels, receiving personalized content and proactive services. This tenant-first philosophy applies to both the private and public housing sector and requires the creation of a new kind of digital tenant experience – everything from live chat and online knowledge resources to self-service portals.

Organizations are therefore leveraging data to deliver personalized one-to-one service, in line with current expectations and evolving needs, from raising families to special care. But of course, that’s just one side of the coin. The other is cost optimization.

Reducing Costs

Repair and maintenance costs already account for an eighth of annual rental income, and those costs are rising fast – by almost 8% year on year. But why is that?

  • Firstly, follow-up dispatch rates are at around 25% and rising.
  • Second is the high cost of ‘No Fault Found’ dispatches – all those needless dispatches that could have been resolved without a home visit.
  • Call volumes are also increasing, especially during the pandemic. The extra workload on agents, many working from home, is creating large case backlogs that are more expensive to resolve the longer they are left.
  • Evolving Health & Safety thresholds​ are much higher too and ensuring ongoing compliance represents a huge cost implication.

COVID-19 has forced organizations to put safety first, and it’s now central to the tenant experience. In fact, TechSee carried out a survey exploring changing attitudes to engineer visits in this new reality.

It highlights that 37% of consumers have required some form of technical assistance or home repair during the crisis. But even though demand is so high, 75% of customers would rather avoid home visits unless it’s absolutely necessary. In fact, almost half would only permit an outdoor visit. And 61% would rather fix things by themselves with remote guidance than have an engineer visit indoors. They understand that they’re often going to have to play a more active role in the resolution process, and they expect their property managers to provide ‘contactless service’ that’s aligned with their safety expectations.

Core Challenges

To deliver a personalized experience to tenants, property management organizations need to address a number of challenges.

The Visual Gap

When the tenant has an issue, they call customer service. The trouble is, they’re looking at equipment they can barely describe, while on the other end of the line, the agent is looking at a CRM. They’re flying blind.

They begin a long, frustrating dialogue that creates high customer effort, a poor tenant experience and high labor intensity. It also pushes up costs due to unnecessary dispatches and repeat calls.

The Knowledge Gap

The second main challenge is the knowledge gap – the difficulty of accessing the right information in the field. With a growing dependency on junior and outsourced workers, this is a critical problem that causes longer site visits and more follow-up visits.

  • Engineers often struggle to find the right information from textual knowledge bases in the field. The last thing they want to do is read a complex article, especially if they’re using a small screen.
  • There’s also the pressure placed on remote experts and supervisors with so many inexperienced engineers reaching out for advice. That leads to workflow bottlenecks and delayed service completion
  • Then there’s the problem of identifying engineers who’ve experienced the same issue affecting the same equipment before.

Siloed Systems

The third challenge is segregation between departments who work often with different systems.

That causes serious inconsistencies in how they communicate with tenants, leading to poor customer experience. Organizations often struggle to get a 360 degree view of each household, which makes effective, one-to-one communication with each resident difficult and leads to inconsistent interactions. Employees in different departments need to deliver personalized and consistent messaging by having the same data at their fingertips. The solution is the creation of multiexperience tenant journeys.

The Visual Multiexperience Approach

The emerging multiexperience philosophy is all about developing effortless, multi-sensory employee and tenant experience across a range of voice, video and text modalities, apps, and other digital touchpoints, regardless of the channel. A key element of this approach is visual assistance. A contact center agent or remote expert can set up a live video stream with the tenant in order to inspect the issue and provide on-screen Augmented Reality guidance, showing the steps that need to be taken to resolve it.

Case prioritization

When organizations have huge backlogs of cases to deal with due to the pandemic, they need to work out which ones to deal with first. And it’s not just about tenant experience – it’s also about safety. If there’s a gas leak, for example, an agent or technician can expedite the dispatch. In the meantime, he can also provide visual instructions showing the tenant how to turn off the gas supply.

Of course, most issues aren’t as critical as that, but there are still thousands of potential dispatches that need confirmation or rejection. Everyone wants to avoid those No Fault Found visits.

Next Issue Avoidance

NIA is a vital part of the picture when it comes to better tenant experience and cutting operational costs. If an agent is guiding a customer through a simple boiler reset, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at the pipework. If he spots rust, he can then authorize a visit to replace the pipe, before the issue turns into a major problem. That’s a major win-win.

Contracting and billing

Tenants often require line-by-line explanations of paper bills and guidance on completing forms. This notoriously time-consuming process can be streamlined using remote support solutions such as visual assistance and screen sharing.

Safety Protocols

In the new normal, tenants are naturally wary about home visits. Engineers can prove that they’re complying with safety protocols, whether regular requirements related to electricity and gas or recording their own temperatures and wearing the required PPE. They simply upload a picture and log it to the case in the FSM.

Onsite Engineer Support

Site visits don’t always go according to plan. Newly qualified engineers, for example, often need a helping hand once they arrive. So how do they get the support they need?

The answer is through live consultation with a remote expert, supervisor or a colleague. The field engineer initiates a visual session to show the issue and receive visual guidance, in order to shorten the visit and avoid a repeat dispatch.

The engineer arrives on site, opens the case on his FSM app and connects to a remote expert for guidance, directly from the case. This activates a VoIP call and the back camera on his phone or tablet, allowing the expert to inspect the equipment over a live video stream, identify the issue, and guide the engineer, using on-screen AR annotations to show him what needs to be done. In cases where the engineer has no internet, he can work offline and upload the visuals later for remote expert verification. The work can also be verified remotely. When a remote expert confirms that the issue is resolved, the organization knows it’s achieved a first time fix and avoided a costly follow-up visit.

Summary

In the new normal, property management organizations are intensifying their efforts to deliver true tenant-first experience by embracing the multiexperience approach with remote support solutions at the heart of this transformation. To learn more, watch this on-demand webinar.

This post was first published on the TechSee blog.

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