If you are a small to medium-sized CRE PM business owner, no one knows your customers as you do. So, it should come as no surprise that technology is disrupting traditional customer service models – in a big way. Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is making its biggest splash ever. But going digital does not mean getting less personal.
Digital technology is drastically altering the power balance between customers and companies. According to Forbes, digital transformation with a focus on customer experience can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%. Sounds like a win-win, right? Digital technology allows customers to gain the power of information and choice while increasing business revenue.
Property managers have even more of an incentive to make the digital leap. Digital workflows can reduce overhead costs, speed up leasing processes and increase response time – just to name a few advantages.
So, how do you offer quality personal customer service in the digital age? Let’s explore 5 ways property management Software-as-a-Service can enhance customer experience.
1. Access data anytime, anywhere
Even if you’re the sole property owner of one building, it’s likely you still have a stockpile of data. Think about all the information you’re given on an annual basis. Leases, legal contracts, utility bills and receipts must be readily available on hand. Companies of all sizes can reap the benefits of asset management software.
Property management systems offer unparalleled access to accurate, up-to-date, real-time data about your buildings. Common in old-style business workflows, personal data sets are typically on individual computers manipulated by a single person with their complex spreadsheets. This produces single-source, unverifiable data that easily propagates errors throughout the entire company. Eliminate the round trip of individual departments producing piecemeal paperwork in scheduled increments. Expedite the customer experience with centralized systems that provide immediate access to all data sets simultaneously.
In times of uncertainty, the speed of access to data is vital to decision-makers and stakeholders. Landlords using property management software can respond faster to changing conditions and benefit from automated tools and reporting features. CRESSblue is an example of a specialized Software-as-a-Service system that offers tenant and owner portals. The tenant portal allows tenants to easily access invoices and statements through an online system. The owner portal functions similarly, enabling property managers to access invoices and statements and see property management reports.
Furthermore, forward-thinking owners get the insights stakeholders need with access to comprehensive reports and ROI analytics. By applying business intelligence technology to these sources of data, you can mine them for patterns you never knew existed.
2. Take human error out of the equation
Looking to build a loyal customer base? Transparent and accurate reporting is non-negotiable. Who would want to do business with a landlord that fudges numbers on spreadsheets? Smart tenants demand more transparency from landlords on CAM cost allocations and calculations.
Manually tracking expenses leaves too much room for error. When it comes to managing other people’s money, you can’t afford to make mistakes. If you’re a landlord that runs multi-tenant properties, then you know all too well how difficult it can be to track financial information. Add custom lease terms, tenant inclusions/exclusions and cost recoveries to the mix – and the paperwork can pile up fast. Here is an example of some of the lease errors that we’ve come across in paper-based systems:
Landlords using accounting software have the clear advantage. Automation reduces the risk of human error, so you don’t have to dig through files to identify (and correct) mistakes. Digital workflows give you the option of automatically logging financial data, which takes all the guesswork out of the task.
Commercial leases are complex. Commercial property accounting software offers ease-of-use when managing cost allocations, requiring less customer involvement and accurate results. Unique tenant circumstances can be reconciled efficiently and painlessly. Deliver information confidently and professionally, with internal audit capabilities to assure tenants that their finances are in safe hands.
3. Self-service optimization
At one time, ‘self-serve’ was a dirty word. But in an age where technology offers instant access to information, self-service is an integral part of customer experience. Streamlined, user-friendly portals empower customers to get the answers they need without enduring long wait times and dreadful hold music.
What’s more, services like online payment and maintenance request submission can cut out the middleman. Landlords can promptly respond to tenant concerns. Cloud-based software, like CRESSblue, offers tenant portals with messaging systems that can alert landlords to a problem immediately. Owners can respond to tenants, message team members, schedule work orders and track maintenance tickets to ensure timely service is delivered.
Companies that embrace technology allow for greater communication amongst the team. Effective internal communication boosts morale, employee engagement and information sharing. Coupled with these benefits, integrated workflows that centralize and standardize your data also reduce customer follow-ups for additional information. In turn, this results in fewer direct calls, fewer tickets and happier customers.
The best part of all? It’s cost-effective. Keeping investors, landlords and tenants happy improves retention, minimizes vacancy and maximizes revenue.
4. Customers want to make green choices
Consumer research shows that customers find it important for businesses to demonstrate social responsibility and take stances on current social movements. According to Business Insider, a recent survey found that 47% of internet users worldwide had ditched products and services from a brand that violated their personal values. Protecting the environment tops the list.
Not only does going paperless help the environment, but it also significantly reduces operating costs. You can cut out the expense of printing, storage and the transportation of paper itself. No checks to print, stamps to lick or envelopes to stuff. Swap the unnecessary administration time – in favour of secure, digital files that are easy to search. Still not convinced? As a tenant, would you prefer a firm that constantly delivers notices through your mailbox or one that simply sends emails straight to your phone?
Most important, digital information storage greatly reduces the risk of paper documents ending up in the wrong hands. Enterprise-level Software-as-a-Service systems like CRESSblue, lock sensitive information down and control access to files with user credentials. Real-time monitoring of the system health and intrusion detection ensure that records are securely backed-up and intact. Unlike paper, which can be destroyed, lost and never returned.
As businesses plan for the post-coronavirus future, more owners are converting physical offices into remote property management teams. Remote working is an opportunity for companies to work more sustainably and increase productivity. Think less office space, less commuting, fewer business trips, shorter breaks and greater focus for employees.
5. Increased productivity equals more time for better service
Companies that leverage data-driven decision-making are far more productive than companies that rely on low-tech solutions. By investing in technology, owners are free to look beyond day-to-day operations and focus instead on property management leadership.
Automating complex processes and repetitive tasks saves valuable personnel hours. Adopting cloud-based Software-as-a-Service technologies increases business intelligence while decreasing administration time. These tools will enable you to effectively and productively improve internal processes and deliver professional service.
Phone calls, faxes and paperwork will only slow you down. And that will ultimately hinder your stakeholders. With smart business systems, you can automate e-notifications and reminder emails, as well as digital reports and documents.
The benefits of the cloud go beyond increased productivity. Digital and analytic tools can reduce the cost of operations while fostering flexibility. Smart business systems do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on strategies to boost your service level and ROI. Take pride in knowing your business is using tools to accelerate and scale.
Start with your customers
The rules of business are being rewritten nearly every day with this imperative for digital transformation. There’s no denying that customer service is changing too. The current global climate has forced companies to rethink how customer interactions are handled, performed and tracked.
Emerging Software-as-a-Service technologies present an incredible opportunity to make customer service more natural, authentic and emotionally intelligent. Not surprisingly, customers value total convenience. What systems can you leverage to meet their evolving needs?
Commercial property management software rewards customers with easier, more efficient and ultimately, more responsive service. It’s your job as a business leader to apply tools to engage, connect and grow relationships. You owe it to your customers.
“Digital transformation” was a buzz phrase before the coronavirus crisis. Since then, it has become a necessity. Leaders must continuously reinvent their customer service model – with technology at its core. Otherwise, watch from the sidelines as tech-savvy customers are swept up by high-tech competitors using innovative Software-as-a-Service solutions.
Customers have already become accustomed to the digital experience. The demand is growing strong. They expect new standards of excellence, performance and just about everything in between. Failure to adapt will risk a loss of efficiency and frustration among your stakeholders.
Digital transformation is modernizing how companies work and compete in an evolving digital economy. What’s also evident is that executives are, by and large, prioritizing technology in their business goals. Not investing in remote systems will have far-reaching consequences on the way you work when the pandemic dust settles. Are you ready for a fresh customer service strategy?
Book a demo to learn how CRESSblue cloud-based property management software can help increase your profitability while cutting costs and positioning your business as an industry leader.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice; please consult a competent professional for advice specific to you. This blog is written to stimulate thinking on concepts related to commercial leasing. Please join the discussion with your experiences.
Martin Sommer, CEO, CRESS Inc.
Martin is a founder and the CEO of CRESS Inc., a Canadian SaaS company that automates lease administration and asset management. Martin also manages Karanda Properties Limited industrial portfolio as Director of Operations in all areas of commercial property management, including new development, asset management, capital expenditures, operations, leasing and lease administration of the industrial portfolio. Martin writes about property management workflow and issues. Book Martin to speak at your industry event.