CEO of Rialtes Technologies, a global business consulting and cloud-based property management solution company headquartered in Austin, TX.
The property management industry has traditionally been hyper-social. Although property management has been adopting technology over the past few years, the focus was primarily on accounting and reporting. But with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to cast uncertainties, it is time to shift that focus toward leveraging technology to improve the customer experience.
So how can an industry like property management adopt technology and continue business while not compromising on customer satisfaction? As the CEO of a cloud-based property management solutions provider, I’ll outline several ways in which property management companies can leverage technology to improve their customer experience in an age of social distancing, along with some best practices for adopting new property management technologies.
How To Improve The Customer Experience Via Technology
• Create virtual showings. As remote working has become the norm in many industries, it is important for property management companies to rethink their working style. In recent years, there has been a steep increase in the adoption of cloud-based technology in the industry. Virtual tours and self-guided showings are a couple of ways to replace in-person property showings. Property managers can also try virtual reality, which can give an immersive experience and help them showcase their properties to prospects without visiting the property physically.
• Incorporate AI into your screening process. Once an application is received, technology can make online screening possible. You can screen the applicants for criminal records, past evictions and more to make an informed decision. AI-powered solutions are fast and can handle bulk requests as well, ensuring that application approval happens on time. Automated and online leasing document creations, virtual document signatures, etc. can help lease properties smoothly with minimal person-to-person interaction.
• Set up a resident portal to help communication. Once a lessee moves in, give them access to a resident portal or app, which can improve communication and make the resident feel welcome. The portal can be a one-stop solution for the resident to know the latest events in the community, upload queries, raise work orders related to maintenance, pay bills and know the amounts due. Having an app for residents makes it easy for them to reach out anytime, anywhere.
• Offer online receipts and accept monthly rents online. With an integrated dashboard, a property manager can request payments, generate receipts, have recurring invoicing in place and accept payments, all from the property management portal. This will ensure residents continue experiencing the same kind of seamless customer service they received before the pandemic, albeit online.
• Use software to create reports for homeowners. An important part of a property manager’s work profile includes sharing reports and property finances with the owners and other stakeholders. Managers can use property management software to create reports. Some solutions even include advanced accounting practices integrated into the software, which can come in handy when creating reports related to accounting, finances and budgeting.
• Provide automated activity summaries to residents. Another great way to stay in touch with your residents and keep the doors of communication open is by sending a monthly snapshot of activities to them. This can include monthly rental status, any extra charges levied on the resident, work orders raised, offers and deals being made available for the month or any upcoming events. Using an automated solution for this would mean better customer relationship management without the extra investment of time.
• Schedule property inspections online. In case a property needs inspection, you can make the arrangements online by using integrations that can sync calendars and help schedule the property inspection appointment. You could then notify the resident via an app or a portal.
Best Practices For Adopting New Property Management Solutions
When incorporating new cloud-based property management technology, the first thing you should look for is the credibility of the provider. You can look at reviews about the property management solutions to understand whether they would fit your requirements. The next step would be to schedule demos with multiple players. Shopping around for solutions will help you understand the difference between the players and help you pick the one that best fits your needs. Your requirements, the product, post-sales service, the vendor’s time in business and affordability are all key considerations during the vetting process.
Adopting any new technology involves a learning curve. You should keep a few things in mind when migrating to a cloud-based property management solution; this is important more so if your company is making this transition for the first time from a legacy system.
Designate a digital transformation leader in your organization who can lead this transition. Let the person handle end-to-end details, such as planning, migration, optimization, security, customization, etc.
Check whether your property management solution offers migrating support for moving to the new solution. Have your digital transformation head work closely with the provider to customize the solution as per your requirements.
Adoption of new technology might not be easy for your team, especially if it involves a major shift from your earlier processes. To ease the transition, ask your provider to offer dedicated training.
Property management companies should consider the current situation as an opportunity to improve their customer experience through technology. The rapid adoption of technology would help unearth new opportunities and improve the overall efficiency of the industry. I believe the time is right for the housing industry to lay the foundation for a new age of property management that is fast, agile and collaborative in nature.
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