For too long the private rented sector has been complacent towards customer satisfaction. In the changing rental landscape, the smartest letting agents are those who understand that retention rather than churn is the key to thriving in the new lettings market.
Valuable lessons can be learned from other service industries about the best approaches to improving customer satisfaction within a lettings business. The most effective approaches are often the simplest…
1. Net Promoter Score
Well-known and used frequently throughout service industries, the Net Promoter Score or NPS is the simplest way to measure customer satisfaction towards a service over time.
Customers are asked to rank a service between 1 and 10. A score between 1 and 6 is categorised as a Detractor score, a score between 7 and 8 is Passive and a score between 9 and 10 classes a customer as a Promoter.
These scores can be viewed individually or collated to determine satisfaction with a service and when tracked over time provide a framework to measure the effectiveness of new service elements and overall sentiment towards a business.
2. Renter communication
In an increasingly interconnected world, communication is key to keeping customers satisfied. A good starting point is understanding a renter's communication preference and how this corresponds with the capacity of a business.
For some lettings businesses, a communication app might be possible, but for many this isn’t the case. Understanding renter demand allows an agent to utilise all the resources at their disposal as effectively as possible.
With Whatsapp, smartphones and even Amazon's Alexa, there are plenty of communication options available but before spending time and money, understanding what renters actually want ensures an agent can implement the most effective solution.
3. Service add-ons
We recently conducted a survey and found that 67% of renters would be happy to pay higher rent for additional services. Thinking outside the box is not only a good way to improve customer satisfaction, but to also identify new revenue opportunities.
Be it a reduced gym membership, cleaning or local and national discounts, negotiating competitive service add-ons is a great way of attracting new tenants, retaining existing customers and differentiating yourself in a crowded market.
4. Feedback campaigns
Everyone likes to be asked what they think. Regular feedback campaigns are a great way of communicating with your renters in a proactive and positive way. Commonly, most renter/letting agent communication takes place at the beginning and end of a tenancy and anything else is likely to be negative correspondence such as property maintenance issues, late rent payment etc...
Feedback campaigns serve as an excellent opportunity to positively engage with renters and gather valuable learnings that can help better your service and increase satisfaction.
Renters are likely to spend up to two-thirds of their income on renting a property. Given that renting is a tenant's greatest annual expense it is easy to understand why flexibility correlates with customer satisfaction.
Whether this is the length of tenancy or giving a level of autonomy to what goes inside a property - presenting a flexible service is a sure way of securing positive renter sentiment.
Of course, there are limitations to how flexible an agent can be but showing an understanding and looking into ways to make a service more fluid will have a positive impact on overall renter satisfaction.
The renting demographic is rapidly diversifying, and alongside this, so too, are renter wants and needs. Letting agents need to find smart and straightforward ways to tap into changing renter demands in order to future-proof their business.
By pushing the boundaries, agents will make a positive name for themselves in the market and increase renter retention, attract new tenants and properties and ultimately, increase their bottom line.
*Jonathan Stein is chief executive officer of Vaboo, a perks and engagement platform which adds value and uncovers new revenue streams for letting agents.