Try as you might, you will never be able to please everyone, all the time. That’s just a fact of life. Furthermore, as your property management business grows, so will the number of complaints you’ll have to field. To minimize impact and mitigate the situation most effectively, you’ll need to establish a strategy for dealing with complaints in a way that is both timely and professional. Here are a few tips from our property management experts below.
Just because a complaint seems trivial to you, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your attention. The goal of complaint resolution is to appease the person voicing their concern, and to them, it’s a problem. You may not be able to respond immediately, but you should specify a timeframe for yourself (or your team) to prevent issues from being overlooked and allowed to fester. A good rule of thumb is 24-48 hours. Be sure to communicate this to owners and tenants to set expectations, and then stick to it.
If you can resolve the issue at hand with your initial response, great. For anything else, you’ll need to assess the situation and assign it a priority. A complaint about a loose door handle, for instance, might not be as urgent as that of a leaky pipe. For complaints that involve two parties, such as disputes between tenants, your job as a property manager is to step in and mediate. Any type of conflict amongst residents should be prioritized and addressed swiftly.
Sometimes just letting someone vent can be enough to resolve a minor complaint. Be willing to listen. For complaints that are more complex and require response or action from you, always keep the complainant in the loop. From the initial outreach to let them know you’ve received their request to status updates along the way, managing expectations is one of the keys to effective complaint resolution.
Any steps taken to address a complaint should be carefully documented for future reference. This will come in handy should you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to defend your actions or prove yourself. Property management software can be a great tool for managing and tracking any and all communications between yourself, your team and whomever is lodging the complaint. This way everyone is on the same page about what is to be done, how and when.
Once you’ve resolved a complaint to the best of your ability, you should always follow up with the complainant. Let them know what actions have been taken and what, if any, next steps there may be. Ask them if they’re satisfied with how you’ve handled the situation, and if there’s anything else you can be of assistance with. Not only does follow up close the loop on complaints, but it also fosters trust and strengthens relationships – both of which play a key role in owner/tenant retention rates.
Whatever the nature of the complaint may be, handling it in a timely, professional manner will help you manage the situation and maintain peace and order within your book of business. Having a set strategy in place for how all complaints are handled is the first step toward a more organized and effective way of operating. The five tips above should help lay the foundation for this.