The human touch is an indispensable piece of customer service. Even in the digital leasing environment of today, prospects still desire authentic human connection and many want to speak with a leasing professional before signing. While high-performing leasing teams do deliver exceptional customer service, their customer engagement recipe has a secret sauce—automation technology.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been around for decades, but they’ve really become the foundation of the modern leasing technology stack over the last several years. Many operators have started experimenting with automation as a way to maximize CRM impact and have discovered significant benefits for leasing professionals, customers and overall lease conversion rates. Although every organization is different, automation provides an opportunity to create a perfect balance between tech solutions and human interaction.
Even with a CRM in place, 45 percent of all prospect inquiries to a community are still left unanswered. If prospects are not receiving timely call backs or getting the necessary information they need to make a decision, they will most likely move on to the next community on their list. This isn’t necessarily a CRM issue, but more of a lead volume challenge. It’s nearly impossible for a human to field the amount of incoming leads from multiple platforms and still have time to deliver exceptional customer service to prospective renters and residents.
This is where automation comes into play. In an effort to keep up with the increasing number of leads generated from online platforms, operators have started implementing automation functionality within their CRMs to enhance communication efforts and save time for onsite teams to focus more on the scenarios where human interaction is vital.
Integrating automation with a CRM elevates communities to the next level of leasing and provides a competitive edge. Automated communication efforts on the frontline of leasing are key to making sure every lead is followed up with and no potential revenue is left on the table. Even just one lead can be extremely important in adding value to a property.
During the early stages of the leasing process when time is of the essence, deploying automation that communicates timely, customized information to prospects with necessary touchpoints has a significant impact on both lead-to-tour and lead-to-lease conversions. Automation is the solution that facilitates correspondence with every lead without the need for human intervention. In turn, onsite teams regain the time needed to cultivate deeper and long-term relationships with residents, which increases both new lease and renewal rates.
At Western Wealth Communities, we were trying to boost lease conversion rates and implemented automation at three of our Arizona properties. We deliberately picked very different types of communities to see if the automation would provide substantial improvement, even at communities that had very different leasing considerations. The lease conversion increases across all three communities had similarly impressive results, and we found that lease conversion automation is an enormous benefit to any type of community.
One of the communities we piloted received just two applications over 30 days prior to implementing lease conversion automation. After implementation, the number of applications jumped to 55 in 60 days. Another community received 105 applications in 60 days and moved in more than 36 residents within a 30-day span. With lease conversion automation capabilities, we ultimately saw our tour-to-lease conversions increase by an astounding 39 percent.
Automation provides the support necessary to optimize human interaction—it’s not one or the other thing. It’s about striking a balance of both automation and the human touch that leads to increased conversion rates and happier residents. The most successful modern leasing teams never go it alone; they are offloading the most tedious, time-consuming tasks to automation, which delivers high-caliber leads to leasing professionals to let them close the deal. The more efficient onsite teams are in their day-to-day duties, the more time they have to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with both prospects and residents.
Technology has completely altered modern leasing, but one thing is for certain between all the new PropTech and self-service leasing capabilities: people still desire a human connection. High-performing leasing teams know where to spend the majority of their time and where automation can supplement the other tasks. This blend creates a better overall experience, not just for the customers, but also for the employees, and that translates to satisfied, longer-term residents.
Jennifer Staciokas is the executive managing director, property management at Western Wealth Communities. Staciokas is responsible for the strategic oversight of the property management organization at the newly formed firm to include operations, maintenance, marketing, training, revenue management, technology and human resources.