Top Multifamily Resident Complaints and How to Fix Them
We’ve all read the less-than-favorable (read: fiery, expletive-filled) email your residents have sent to management to complain about anything from their broken heater to the odd noises they hear from 11B. Unless you’re running a squeaky clean operation, chances are that resident complaints rank high on your list of management pain points.
While there’s no way to completely halt resident grumbling, you can still proactively and effectively manage the complaint process so you see higher levels of resident satisfaction. Here are five sure-fire ways to enter the good graces of your sometimes not-so-lovely residents.
Enter common resident complaint number one: unkept and dirty grounds. Residents complain that while they all love Fluffy, they don’t love what Fluffy leaves behind (or their negligent owners).
Rather than launching an accusatory campaign directed at pet owners, start with softening your messaging. Purchase a few funny dog waste removal signs, and dot them around your property’s most trafficked sidewalks. Residents are more likely to comply if they see humorous messaging, rather than a targeted campaign.
As an extra step, stake a few dog bag stands around the property so pet owners are never stranded without supplies to pick up after their four-legged friends.
DEATHLY SLOW MAINTENANCE
We get it: It’s all too easy for your team to get bottlenecked in a slew of maintenance requests in the height of summer AC malfunctioning. While it’s hard to predict the hills and valleys of your customer service requests, the Golden Rule here is to under-promise, but over-perform.
That is, don’t tell your residents that your management team will be able to process any work order within 48 hours if it’s not feasible. Instead, formulate a proactive strategy for following up with your residents. Keep an eye on when they initially reached out, and plan on following up immediately to explain why there’s a backlog and when you expect you'll be able to resolve the issue. The key here is that some contact is better than no contact.
LESS-THAN-FUZZY CUSTOMER SERVICE
Time and time again, residents complain that they experience less-than-fuzzy customer service. Fortunately, there’s nothing that a bit of customer service training can’t solve.
Our main advice here is to schedule bi-annual resident satisfaction training with your management team. Brainstorm with other members of your team to list the top resident complaints you hear about, and draft a short script so that management can respond consistently and smoothly in resident interactions.
Don’t be afraid to admit management shortcomings and always, always keep an empathetic tone in your interactions. Let’s take an example. When Freddy writes to complain that he hasn’t heard from management in weeks about the mysterious fungus growing on his ceiling, try responding with something like this: “We fell short on getting back to you about this. I bumped your request to the top of the maintenance crews' list of priorities. While we’re there, is there anything else our crew can take a look at?"
THE COST, PLAIN AND SIMPLE
While you’re on-site staff likely will have little sway over your rental price points, you can soften the blow that pricing has increased yet again by reminding your residents of everything their rental package includes. They’re not just paying for the unit; they’re also paying for the updated amenities you rolled out this year and the convenient location of your property to downtown and local transit.
Better yet, offer an incentive program for your residents to help lessen the pain of expensive rents. For example, if your residents submit their rent on time throughout the whole year, they’ll enter your “Gold Club” and will have the opportunity to win an awesome gift for their apartment (think: a new blender, an upgraded entertainment center). The trick here? Don’t underestimate how a little free swag can lessen the higher price tag of the unit.
THE BLACK HOLE WE CALL RESIDENT FOLLOW-UP
Time and time again, we hear that residents compare management to a black hole; they submit maintenance requests or leave a voicemail at the management office, only never to hear back again. And with hundreds (if not thousands!) of residents and requests, it’s all too easy for things to fall through the cracks.
The key point here is short and simple: Stay organized! When residents call into management, your team ideally should follow a documented workflow for processing resident interactions. Automate your operations process with a facility management software that will allow all members of the team insight into the status of things like maintenance requests and who’s followed up with what residents. In other words, there’s another time and place for sticky note to-do lists - document everything!