How to drive resident satisfaction in your Build to Rent scheme

Following the Tenant Satisfaction Summit, we sum up the key learnings about how to drive resident satisfaction in a Build to Rent scheme.

Lounge designed for resident satisfaction - Manor Interiors | BTR News

By Farhan Malik, CEO, Manor Interiors

The Tenant Satisfaction Summit took place recently with key industry leaders coming together to provide insights and views on various different topics within the sector. Resident satisfaction is a key element within Build to Rent and to drive resident satisfaction, there are two vital elements – customer service and technology. 

The main takeaway here is looking at your product, brand and customer service in combination, which will provide a good overview of what residents are looking for from your Build to Rent scheme. The product – your accommodation – is what residents are renting and the panel discussion highlighted the importance of this, and that it shouldn’t be underestimated.

By looking back at the construction process, Build to Rent operators should have an understanding of the marketplace where their Build to Rent scheme will be situated. The product quality is paramount, and the spec and design should be influenced by both the resident and operator. This drives efficiencies and reputation for each Build to Rent operator.

The customer base for Build to Rent has also evolved – once targeted to millennials, we’re now seeing more multifamily style schemes like the US model. To drive resident satisfaction, the product needs to be designed and tailored to the demographics. This will influence how the scheme is managed as well as the technology that is needed.

The role of technology in driving resident satisfaction

It’s vital to have a 360 degree view of residents, so if they have a problem during their journey, you’re able to address these. To do this, technology plays a vital role and was talked about heavily by the panel. 

You can measure resident satisfaction via a number of routes using technology. Surveys and SMS campaigns can establish service ratings at fixed points of a resident’s journey, for example when they move in or out. Resident conversations were highlighted as a differentiation goal – especially during Covid-19 – where operators can implement regular interaction through conversations every three or six months, asking residents about what can be improved.

Having a dedicated technology platform – a CRM – to manage resident interactions is a vital operational tool, helping operators streamline data points and communication channels so a resident’s journey can be followed. So having a customer experience that is fully engaged with your resident is fundamental. And although a layer of technology can be implemented between you and residents, human intervention is also paramount. 

Finding the right solution to personalise the technology experience is important for your brand and scheme. An app or chat facility will support residents up to a certain point when an intervention will be needed by a team member. Without this intervention process, the disconnection becomes bigger, affecting a resident’s experience, and in turn, resident satisfaction. The key takeaway here is finding the right balance. Technology is a great solution to help you scale a Build to Rent scheme, or for larger schemes, which helps you control and keep resident satisfaction live.

Internal software engineers or external software providers?

Build to Rent operators tend to use different software tools which integrate between each other. Some have internal software engineers who work alongside external providers, others only use external providers. The key is to keep developing and evolving the platform to meet the changing needs of residents and the operational function. 

Proptech has evolved immensely over the years and the biggest challenge Build to Rent operators and asset managers face is keeping abreast with what’s going on in the technology industry. With so many solutions, it’s important to understand these technologies and how they will support residents as well as teams, when it’s the right time to use a solution, and to ensure staff have adequate training in using these systems.

How do you measure resident satisfaction in your Build to Rent scheme?

Measuring resident satisfaction provides key information to Build to Rent operators and asset managers. It helps to identify where things are going wrong within the resident journey, so they can be addressed.

It also looks at how successful operators are in terms of operating their scheme. Marketing and operational costs can be measured to look at how successful a scheme is doing; however these are not the only measures. Build to Rent operators should also understand metrics within each of the markets they operate in.

Retention is another metric that can support operators in establishing how successful their scheme is, however, it may not work for all schemes. As different cities see varying transient demographics, retention isn’t the best way to measure success. Covid-19 has also demonstrated this, where residents are moving both in and out of areas for reasons based around the pandemic. This means that measuring retention alone doesn’t provide a good measure of the overall scheme.

The review platform – HomeViews – is also a great platform to gain insights into your residents’ feedback. The performance rated website has reviews written by residents – which can also provide a good measure of how well individual landlords are doing in the Build to Rent sector.