Renting thousands of homes is a reputation business and I’ve made no secret of how seriously we take customer service at Get Living London. At points I have felt like a lone voice in the UK PRS. But after three years, the numbers speak for themselves. 30% of our move-ins so far this year have been a result of recommendations from our existing residents, or people who have previously rented with us. 86% of our residents rate us as good or excellent. 30% and 86% are great, but we’re committed to see these rise. Commercially our high referral rate has allowed our marketing cost per move in to fall and our neighbourhood enlivenment budget to grow, which we hope, alongside our high approval rating, will see direct results in our churn rate. Treating customers well can add real value to your company.
I firmly believe that only by listening to your customers can you hope to improve their experience. We interview 100 residents every month. Carried out by ‘RealService’ each week, the results are analysed We want to know the good, the bad, the ugly. We hear which staff members are excelling, which need more help. In fact it is why we set up Home Plus – our own in-house branded maintenance team – to increase responsiveness and improve service levels, making our maintenance service more accountable. We hear what residents love about the neighbourhood and when they make suggestions we can act on them. East Village residents suggested outdoor bbq areas as they aren’t permitted to bbq on their balconies. Four outdoor bbqs were installed in the run up to summer 2015 and have been such a hit we’ve installed a further two. We hear if people are getting frustrated by our processes and implement new ways of working. Residents who were moving out were frustrated with the time it was taking to return their deposit, so we ran a workshop with the contracts and finance team to improve the process. You could argue that they’re leaving, so why bother? I’d point back to our referral rate. If a resident does move out we want them to recommend us to their friends. Final impressions of us are as important as their first. We want to hear it all, so the entire customer journey is included, providing insight at all touchpoints. These quantitative results form the basis of our bonus remuneration for all team members. Unusually for the property sector, we pay no ‘sales’ based commissions.
This feedback is only useful if it’s read and acted upon. Exception reports are fed to department heads in real time for the highest and lowest scoring feedback, so that action can be taken straightaway where necessary. They are also provided to our in-house Social Media and Digital manager. The qualitative feedback is collated and, as well as being fed back to each department, are also used by our Learning and Development Manager as part of the Get Living London monthly in-house training programme.
Value your people
Our customer service commitment starts during the recruitment process with experiential selection days so that potential new team members can see and feel our customer focused culture before they join us. We actively recruit not just from the property sector but from the hospitality, retail and service sectors; keen to bring best practice to our business. Our Learning and Development Manager leads an ongoing programme of training from induction, with a focus on customer service to ensure that our standards are maintained and that we are constantly looking at new ways to improve and innovate.
Keep customer experience at the heart of everything
Our mantra of “Creating experiences people love in places they don’t want to leave” is embedded throughout our organisation and is championed through the Executive Team leading by example. Listening to customers to monitor whether our actions match our aspirations is embedded into our culture and forms the basis of our ability to innovate and maintain our marketleading position. Our commitment to providing a dedicated, honest and understanding service for our residents from the offset is what has made Get Living London so unique and has helped us stand out as an innovator in the Private Rented Sector. The success of Get Living London since our 2013 launch shows that it really does pay to go the extra mile for your customers.
My key advice for Landlords:
- Residents deserve dedicated, honest and straightforward service
- There’s no better judge of your services than your own residents
- It is important to have mechanisms and processes to enable you to constantly listen to residents and see how you can improve your services
- Do all you can to make your residents really feel at home – both within their property and the wider community
- Aim to always be an innovator in your industry