Resident satisfaction has been trending down since 2019 but there are ways to curtail that, according to J Turner Research’s April survey. The survey, How to Ride the Wave, garnered 6,164 respondents, representing 471 properties and rents ranging from less than $500 to at least $2,500. The survey asked residents about how satisfied they were with their rentals and what aspects were most important to them.
Overall, resident satisfaction is down 13 percent since 2019, according to the survey. The dip isn’t directly attributable to the pandemic, but more so because of some of the lingering effects from the pandemic, including prolonged amenity closures and inadequate cleanliness or security practices. The survey also noted that the Turner Apartment Loyalty Index is at 6.45, compared to January 2019 when it was at 7.43. The drop in the index is due to frequent complaints from the residents about service and lack of adequate communication, based on online reviews. The survey also showed that resident satisfaction and trust typically decline 15 percent in the first year, across the board of rental rates.
Despite the stark drop in resident satisfaction, J Turner Research’s survey looked at several factors to improve the overall resident experience. According to the survey, 79 percent of residents reported that amenities were the most important aspect when selecting an apartment to rent, with caring staff coming in second at 49 percent.
Residents noted that they wanted improved or upgraded amenities, like outdoor gathering spaces, a coworking space and better gym equipment, as well as new or upgraded technology like smart home devices and upgraded Wi-Fi. However, residents ranked having additional staffing as the most valuable to them, above any new amenities.
COMMUNICATION AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
According to the survey, residents responded very well to a more transparent and available staff. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents said they wanted more communication from management, while 69 percent said they’re fine with the current amount of communication. But, only 2 percent said they were looking for less communication from management.
It’s also important for residents to know the name of staff members, as knowing the name of at least one onsite team member increased resident satisfaction by 22 percent and trust by 24.6 percent. According to the survey, 62 percent of more than 30,000 one-, two- and three-star reviews mentioned customer service as the main complaint.
STAYING ON TOP OF RENEWALS
Even though the market is showing increasing rents overall, 45 percent of residents are expecting rents to go down or stay the same. When considering lease renewals, the survey noted that it’s better for companies to proactively communicate the process in the first six months of the lease, rather than waiting for the traditional 60- to 90-day period before lease expiration.
According to the survey, 41 percent of respondents start to consider if they want to renew their lease or not before the 90-day period. By proactively discussing the rent renewal, residents won’t be as surprised about any changes in rent and feel like the management is being more transparent, which should build more trust.