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8 Road Warrior Rules for Customer Service

“I’m just beyond delighted when my luggage actually arrives.”

Sadly, Alex Jackiw isn’t alone. The airline industry is often a good (or, more accurately, bad) reflection of today’s fledgling customer service in general. 

During the breakout session “A Road Warrior’s Rules for Customer Service,” at the 2014 NAA Education Conference & Exposition,  Jackiw, CPM, CAPS, President of Milhaus Management, shared her tales from the trenches during a year full of travel as NAA’s 2013 Chairman of the Board. Joined by Desiree Starr, CAPS, VP of Education and Development, Apartment Association of Greater Orlando, the two shared succinct areas of frustration while traveling and how these lessons can be applied to the apartment industry.

A few “road warrior rules” from Jackiw and Starr:

1. The customer has changed. Today multigenerational customers—your residents—are quick to complain (frequently and publicly), and have higher expectations and lower tolerance for mistakes or poor service.

2. Perception is reality. “I know that phrase is overused but it’s so succinct and important in what we do,” Jackiw says.  

3. Keep your social media updated. If you’re asking residents to stay engaged with social media, you have an obligation to keep that information up –to-date.

4. Don’t rely solely on technology. Make it easy to use, but avoid total automation if possible. 

“I was driving at a rate of speed that was considered illegal in the state of California on my way to airport, and halfway there I got a voicemail that my flight had been cancelled,” Jackiw says. “There was no additional information. You can’t totally automate. People crave the human touch.”

Adds Starr, “Don’t use an e-blast to talk about a lease renewal. Get out of your office, go to apartment 212 and have a conversation with Fred. Don’t hide behind technology.”

5. You must over-communicate. No news is NOT good news when dealing with customers.  And most importantly, tell the truth!

“There’s nothing more frustrating that when you’re at the terminal and it says your flight is on time and you look out the window and there’s no plane out there,” Jackiw says. “And you’re supposed to be boarding.”

6. How do you compensate for disappointments?” More often than not, a resident doesn’t want a free month of rent. They just want an apology,” Starr says.

7. Hire well. Nice people provide good customer service—it’s as simple as that. (Humor helps too).

“When I was working in senior housing, I interviewed people while we toured the community instead of sitting down in an office,” Jackiw says. “If they didn’t acknowledge the elderly residents that passed by, they were toast. It told me everything I needed to know.”

8. Mistreated employees = mistreated customers.

“I really liked that all of the examples were relatable to daily situations,” says attendee Melissa Attallah, Regional Supervisor, HCA Property Management, San Diego. “Residents always think that they’re right and it was helpful to learn how to handle difficult situations like that.”

Adds attendee Jimmy Wienckowski, Senior Leasing Consultant, First Site Apartments, Bloomington, Ill., “What I took away from the session was that even if you have an answer for a resident that may not necessarily be what they want to hear, keeping them informed is often just as important as providing a solution.”




Want More?

All 42 breakout sessions presented in Denver are available for purchase. Learn more about REWIND: 2014 NAA Education Conference Video & Audio Recordings

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