Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Strong Connections

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Strong Connections

Article excerpt


Historically, residents and prospects often regarded communication with multifamily property managers as a black hole. They phoned in their requests or problems, and if they were lucky enough to reach a person rather than an answering machine, the person was only a relay point with little or no subject matter knowledge. The message would be forwarded to the leasing manager, who addressed it when time allowed, assuming the note was not lost among the stacks of paper competing for attention.

Today, even with Web-based technology offering new channels for communicating, not everyone is comfortable using the Internet for service requests, rent payments, tour appointments and other aspects of multifamily living. Some people simply prefer the old fashioned, live person-to-person contact and dialogue. However, a leasing manager might be out showing apartments or otherwise unavailable when a call comes in. Delayed responses or calls that disappear altogether can mean lost prospects, frustrated residents and harried property managers facing a pile of paper phone messages and sinking occupancy rates.


An emerging solution that can help managers make a good first impression on prospects and improve service to residents is call center service, which utilizes live respondents while leveraging many of the software advances that have streamlined multifamily property marketing, leasing and resident services in recent years. Blending new technology such as portals and electronic payment processing systems with old-fashioned, person-to-person customer service, call centers offer guaranteed "zero ring" service. In practice, this means no more generic answering services or leasing office answering machines; instead, callers speak directly with respondents who are equipped with real-time information and trained in such multifamily processing and services as leasing, utility billing, maintenance and concierge services. Call centers also offer a live online chat capability. Call center staff members perform a valuable reporting function, gathering metrics on resident satisfaction and how effectively phone traffic is turning into walk-in traffic.


Call centers can be a key part of a manager's effort to ensure resident satisfaction and retention. For example, if a resident calls asking to see a ledger, pay rent or utility charges, make a service request, or reserve community amenities, the appropriate call center employee can pull that resident's information from the property management database to fulfill and process the request. …

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