The UK renting demographic is diversifying at a rapid pace. While the current market poses many challenges for traditional letting agents, growth in renter demand represents abundant opportunity for those smart enough to adapt their service to capitalise on it.
Crucial to successfully tapping into this new market of renters is understanding their needs and wants. Renting is no longer a means to a property-owning end. With many people facing a lifetime of renting, being complacent towards service delivery will have a detrimental effect on the success of a lettings business.
With this in mind, agents need to be on the lookout for the best ways to build upon their service to capture renter hearts and minds.
Understanding your customer
With many renters spending nearly a third of their monthly income on rent, it’s not surprising they want a service that matches up with the price they pay.
The lettings market is flooded with suppliers that aim to improve customer service levels for the better; the challenge is finding the right one. Agents want to avoid putting a lot of effort and financial resource into rolling out service add-ons that there is no renter appetite for.
This is where lessons can be learnt from the services industry. It has long understood the importance of customer feedback when it comes to improving service.
Not only does it act as an excellent opportunity to positively engage with customers and make them feel valued, but also gathers insight into their wants and needs. Before adopting a new service, consulting end-user customers will give a solid indication of whether there is appetite for service, saving you time and money.
Technology offers up an excellent way of enhancing renter experience. Typically, communication between agent and renter takes place at the beginning and end of a tenancy, with anything in-between generally negative in connotation (rent arrears, maintenance issues etc.).
The use of technology offers an effective and simple way to bridge this renter engagement gap. Regular communication with your renters through things like email, apps or social media allows consistent and positive engagement with your brand.
Letting agents should be thinking about how creative use of technology can help distinguish themselves from their competition. For instance, creating handy renting guides or sharing local news enables a brand to become a useful part of a customer’s daily life.
Consistent communication through technology is the surest way of securing brand loyalty and harnessing positive sentiment towards your business from your customers.
With the rise of companies like WeWork, the next generation of renters have come to expect service that consistently delivers added value to them.
Build to Rent focuses heavily on ways to enhance the customer experience and with its deep investment pockets, therefore traditional agents need to begin looking for easily implementable ways to do the same in order to maintain market share and relevance.
In a recent survey of over 3000 UK renters, we found that 91% are concerned by the rising cost of living. Yet, most interestingly, 70% said they would be happy to pay more for access to money saving discounts that help them out in their day-to-day spending.
Negotiating deals and offers with local businesses to give exclusively to your renters is not only a great way to support the local commerce and differentiate your service offering but, also, if approached the right way, could lead to extra revenue earning opportunities.
Renters of the future
It is no coincidence that in recent years, that a Chief Customer Officer, has become a permanent fixture in the boardroom. With so many industries acknowledging its link with business success, agents who do not begin to do the same will struggle to keep afloat in the future.
To thrive in the changing market, it is crucial that agents adapt and align themselves with the wants and needs of their customers. Building a service routed in superior customer service and that responds to renter want and need is the surest way to secure a place as a successful letting agent of the future.
*Jonathan Stein is chief executive officer of Vaboo, a renter perks and engagement platform which enables agents to give tenants exclusive money-saving offers and perks in exchange for business-critical feedback.