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How a Contact Center can Create Golden Opportunities

Like many days in the front office, this one is hectic. The phone rings as a leasing representative checks the package delivery log-in for a waiting resident. The phone keeps ringing. A maintenance tech distracts the representative and asks about the paperwork for a service call in Building C.

“It’s on the clipboard,” she says before disappearing into the back room to retrieve a parcel for the resident. The phone stops ringing just as the maintenance tech walks out. The representative hands the package to the resident and looks at the phone for a voicemail she thinks the caller left.

No blinking light.

On the other line was a prospective resident who chose not to leave a message, but to go to the next community on the list. Whether or not the prospect calls back is an unknown factor, but it’s often doubtful. It’s highly possible that the caller will contact another community and lease there.Contact Center

Contact centers enable properties to be there when prospects inquire

According to an independent study conducted by Rentlinx.com and Level One Lease Analysis, 65 percent of calls made to an apartment community are people inquiring about a lease. Of those calls, 3.5 percent turn into leases. The missed call that afternoon could have been the golden nugget that got away. If someone would’ve been there to at least capture that opportunity and provide a great prospect experience, a new lease might have been signed. Instead, another unit remains vacant.

“It’s not only revenue lost, but its marketing and advertising wasted,” says Jeremy Batson, Industry Principle for RealPage’s Contact Center and Vice President/Contact Center Solutions.

The study of phone traffic shows that management companies miss 40-60 percent of calls during the day, and of course, all when the office is closed when not teaming with a contact center. 80 percent of those callers don’t leave voicemails and 55 percent never call back.

“What they’re doing is continuing down the list until they get somebody to answer and they never get back to the other communities that missed their call,” Batson said. “People aren’t leaving voicemails any more. They’re not calling back. They’re continuing to shop.”

A contact center familiar with the community, Batson says, captures those missed calls – 24 hours a day – and creates an opportunity for the property to at least make the prospect put down that shopping list and learn more about the community. Further, it can lead to the prospect touring the property, where the opportunity increases for signing a lease.

A contact center, he says, is an apartment’s best friend, especially during peak leasing season when prospective residents are hunting for a new place to live and reach out to communities.

Missed inquiries are revenue lost for properties

Working with a contact center can save those calls when it’s just too crazy around the office to get to the phone. But a greater value is extending the window for prospects to learn more about the community on their time, and not the apartment’s. Generating leases from after-hours inquiries are just as important and likely when representatives are available to share the key features of a property, even close to bed time.

Level One Lease Analysis Studies measure benchmarks and conversion from top management companies against leasing data acquired by RealPage, Inc. In one case study of after-hours calls missed at a large portfolio, the lost opportunity was staggering. The property, based on an average lease value of $18,000, lost an estimated $4.6 million because a large volume of calls went unanswered over four months.

“When the sun goes down, the office is still open if you’re using a contact center,” Batson said. “A lot of times those offices are open to service residents more so than they are for prospects. The truth is that more lease 24 hours a day, and are just as likely to lease when the office is closed.”

Relying on a contact center to handle inquiries when office personnel can’t not only helps generate revenue but maximizes marketing dollars.

Contact Center 2-min

Representatives can paint the community picture just as well

Batson said contact centers have worked diligently in recent years to overcome perceptions that they are boiler rooms, and that contact center agents aren’t adequately informed about properties and can’t measure up to onsite leasing personnel. Thorough collaboration with properties that employ RealPage contact centers empowers representatives with all the key attributes of a community so they can speak and answer questions as if they were on site.

Also, a contact center representative can focus on the conversation with a prospect without the distractions of handling onsite business and other things that go with the day-to-day operation of an apartment community, he says.

“Typically, an onsite consultant is on the phone with a prospect for about two minutes,” Batson said. “At a contact center, the idea is to be on the phone as long as it takes, and present a story to the prospect of what it would be like to live in that community, not just answer questions. The goal is to provide value through the conversation.”

That can only happen by answering when a prospective resident inquires.



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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