Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Making Maintenance a Customer Service

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Making Maintenance a Customer Service

Article excerpt

With the booming economy, low unemployment and numerous opportunities for educated and qualified people, finding an excellent maintenance staff person is not always an easy task. However during the course of a recent interview with a maintenance technician for an opening at one of our company's properties, I was impressed with the professional qualifications he brought to the interview.

As the interview progressed, we discussed what his responsibilities would be. During the discussion, I reviewed our company's procedures on handling service requests. He then stopped me and said, "you mean work orders, don't you?"

"No, I mean service requests. Do you know the difference?" I asked.

"I guess they're the same, aren't they?", he replied.

This is nor an uncommon perception for some of our company's on-site maintenance personnel. While many of our maintenance technicians are extremely good at what they do, some still believe that their job responsibilities are to "fix things", keep the properties in good order and be sure to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, they don't realize that a good portion of their job requires them to interact with the residents.

With the ever-increasing amount of competition in the multi-family housing industry, service is a very strong commodity, one which can become a make-or-break selling point to many potential lessors. In fact, many times the recreational amenities are not as important to the prospective resident as, "What services do you provide?"

For these reasons alone, it is imperative that maintenance workers also serve as customer service agents. By interacting with residents and resolving problems, the maintenance employee becomes a valuable extension of the front office and the property.

Everyone has horror stories about poor customer service: illusive waiters at a restaurant, bank tellers putting the 'Closed-Next Teller' sign in our faces, etc. What is crucial in today's property market is that owners go out of their way to provide quality service, handle customer requests promptly, and employ maintenance technicians who are personable enough to address any questions the lessor may have before, during or after the service request. …

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