Customer Experience: Is Your Apartment Community Two-Faced?

A friend of mine recently shared this story with me.
“It all started when my children ordered the IHOP “Happy Face” pancake dinner. When our order arrived at the table my 2 year old son became very upset and proceeded to say, “Mommy, not it!” over and over again. I attempted to explain to him that what he received was what he had ordered, but clearly it was not working. After several attempts to calm him down, my oldest son (7) said, “Mommy, that pancake doesn’t look anything like the picture on the menu!” Of course, how could I have missed that?”  
When you move your apartment marketing efforts into the online world you run the risk of becoming two-faced. 

1. Connect the Dots
Integrating online and offline channels is something that's very much on the minds of many apartment management and marketing professionals and is forcing them to understand how to effectively manage relationships across multiple channels.
 
When potential residents connect their face-to-face community experience dots with their online conversation dots, the result is their picture of the product and community. They should see the same picture regardless of where they are engaging.
 
This can be a difficult task given all of the multiple touch points that might exist.
 
The face-to-face customer interaction at an apartment community has never been more important. It should validate the expectations that were set online and finalize the sale.
According to a report from Meeting Professionals International (MPI), 40% of prospects converted to new customers via face-to-face meetings.

Both face-to-face and virtual marketing are essential components to an apartment community’s communication and branding strategy. Combining them effectively can positively impact the bottom line. Appear as being two-faced and you risk losing customer confidence and potentially damaging the customer experience.

2. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall ...
Do you expect your online friends to behave and look the same way as they do in person? Of course! Potential residents expect the same from your community. If it’s not a match, you will hear about it. 

When was the last time you looked deeply into the business mirror—the magical and mysterious world of ratings and reviews? Were you surprised to see what people were saying about your onsite team, product or community?
 
Apartment Ratings and Reviews sites are becoming a natural avenue for apartment customers to share their online and offline thoughts, feelings and experiences. They should be seen as a source of opportunity rather than a source of anxiety.
  • Fifty-one percent of consumers use the Internet even before making a purchase in stores. [Source: Verdict Research, via Search Engine People, July 2010]
  • Eighty-one percent of people use consumer reviews in their purchase decisions.
    [Source: Nielsen via BizReport, February 2009]

If you want to avoid hearing “Not it!” from your prospects and residents, don’t forget to take a look in the mirror and make sure you connect the dots.