When your customer walks out of your leasing office, they will often remember the smallest of details. Was the leasing consultant nice to me? Was the bathroom clean? Did I see any trash outside? Was the staff as pleasant to the current resident as they were to me? These are just a few tiny factors that can cause a person to feel good or bad about their customer experience and can help you shape your apartment leasing training. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Regardless of how small, all experiences are significant and evoke emotions and responses in your customers. Customers don’t necessarily buy a memorable product. They buy from a highly memorable leasing professional. While there are many unique habits of a highly memorable leasing professional, here are three you can consider honing through an apartment leasing training program.
1. They Listen, Watch, and Learn
According to Roy Bartell, online business and sales thought leader, “Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” Memorable leasing professionals go far beyond asking qualifying questions and simply checking off the boxes on their guest card. To create a memorable experience, they seek to know what their customers want and need. They effectively accomplish this by engaging with their customer through thoughtful and insightful conversations that reveal their true needs and desires. Then they listen, watch, and learn. They listen to the customer’s responses. They watch their body language and reactions. They store this new knowledge as they continue to learn more about the person they are trying to help. They ask insightful questions which produce candid feedback and reveal more about what the customer is thinking and feeling.
Here are a few insightful conversation question starters:
- What other communities have you visited? What did you like or dislike about their community and the experience?
- Tell me about your cat, Jackson. Have you considered where you would place Jackson’s bed and litter box in this apartment?
- You mentioned that kitchen counter space is lacking in your current apartment. Can you tell me more?
- How would you utilize this closet space?
2. They Relieve Pain Points
Mary Kay Ash shared, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” Successful apartment leasing training programs help develop leasing professionals who ask their customers about their pain points. Pain points attributed to searching for a new home often include frustration, disappointment, confusion, anger, and fear. Highly memorable leasing professionals understand how to tap into these pain points and listen to their customer’s responses. Then they give them some actionable advice and options. They look for opportunities to share their own personal experience or the experience of another customer to help solve problems. An insightful thoughtful response strengthens the relationship.
Here are a few examples of pain relieving questions which quite often include “why”:
- I realize moving is not always fun. Why are you moving from your current community?
- Why do you prefer an upstairs to a downstairs apartment?
- Why do you need a second bedroom? How will you utilize the space?
- You mentioned that you wanted to move from your current apartment location. Why is our particular location appealing to you?
These questions along with similar ones allow a leasing professional to determine what the customer is going through and what they are struggling with. Only then can they deliver products and services to relieve the pain and struggle. Your customer’s pain points are the driving forces behind their need for your products and services. They are what spark the leasing process. When you solve problems for people, they walk away delighted.
3. They Personalize
Memorable experiences depend on relevancy and personalization. These are the pieces that add value and instill loyalty. One of the easiest and most overlooked ways to personalize a conversation with a customer is to use their name. A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some, including Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People, say “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Carnegie was so keen on remembering a person’s name that he came up with his own system for remembering names. According to a study published in Brain Research journal, when people hear their name, there is a unique reaction in the brain which triggers greater brain activation. Customers crave customized experiences and our apartment leasing training programs should be designed to capitalize on this.
Another easy and extremely overlooked way to personalize is to send customers a handwritten thank you note. As a whole, our industry is failing in this area, yet the highly memorable leasing professional is using this simple tool to differentiate, win over the customer, and beat out the competition. According to the 2017 Ellis Shopping Report Data, only 4.6% of 48,935 shopper customers received a handwritten thank you note. Strikingly, according to research, it is the most emotionally impactful method of follow up. It’s time to get on board the personalization train! Here are a few additional ways to personalize the customer experience:
- After setting an appointment, write the customer’s first name on a “welcome board” at the entrance to your leasing office.
- Quickly customize a water bottle label with a paper sleeve which includes their name.
- If they are bringing a pet, put a treat in a zip lock bag with a name label on it.
- Offer children coloring books, hidden picture books, crossword puzzles, etc. Write their name on it, and sign it as a gift from your team.
It’s the little things that often differentiate. Customers notice and appreciate these “little things” that will either lead them to loyalty or out the door to the competition. Listening, watching, and learning, relieving customer pain points, and personalizing the experience are easy to overlook and very tempting to dismiss. Yet, when you add up a number of seemingly minor details, you end up with something of far more value than you would without them, a highly memorable experience.
Vice President of Training and Development
Edge2Learn / Ellis Partners in Management Solutions