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COMMUNICATIONS Features Why should we be more social with our media?

Just how good are property managers at communicating with their leasehold customers, asks James Biley

Knowledge is a beautiful thing… but just how much of that knowledge are we keeping to ourselves and how much are we sharing with our colleagues and our customers. Today communication isn't just key, it's essential to the way we live and work. It's about keeping customers informed; telling them what will happen, when it will happen and how it will happen. It's about involving our customers in what we are trying to achieve, because that involvement will lead to better understanding and greater cooperation.

This may seem obvious and you may say you do this already – but do you really? How often do you update your customers on your service? How involved or consulted do your customers feel? We all need to communicate, to share and impart others with our knowledge - after all we are here to provide a service. So the message is to communicate and make the best use of social media to stay in touch with your customers - but how? Well that's not always the easy part!

First, you need to understand how you reach your customers; once you have established this, you will find that the method of communication you use will dictate how reactive and informative you can, or need to be.

My perception is that the vast majority of managing agents rank their communication with customers in this order:

1. Email 2. Letter 3. Telephone 4. Face-to-face meetings 5. Text

Agreed you will probably reach the vast majority of your customers more quickly by using an online portal, such as ARLO, with the most up-to-date information and help stop the repetition factor, but text and email are still important. So what do you do?

The answer is you have to use the method of communication that best fits the majority of your customers and work out solutions for the rest. The most important thing to remember is that you need to reach your customers and provide them with channels to reach you. Many of your customers will know you have a website, but how interactive is it if someone does want to contact you? Also, if a customer does have a question they probably want a quick answer – in this day and age they EXPECT a quick answer there and then.

I'm guessing no one is using fax any more. If we assume this is the standard ranking (If I'm wrong let me know - I'd love to hear) where does that leave online communication or social media? If they are featuring in sixth and seventh place you may just be missing a trick.

Certain kinds of information, such as major works, needs to be set out and sent out formally. But just how frequently do we write letters or emails to individuals about other building-related works that would answer a question for one person and help to inform everyone else at the same time, thus reducing the property manager's time and making that single piece of communication much more effective.

Today people are constantly on the move; many don't always arrive at a desk in the morning or even return home every night. Technology has allowed us to be more flexible and accessible. Great you say, let's just do EVERYTHING online! Well, maybe…

Twitter is probably one of the best business communication channels to help and respond to customers quickly and efficiently. Anyone who saw my talk on social media in London last year will know how Countrywide has embraced Twitter as the chosen method of quick, accessible customer assistance and we showed a case study of how this can make a huge positive impact.

So, in terms of your customer engagement and sharing of information, stop and think - are your communication methods outdated; could you be more effective and reach more people more quickly by opting for other solutions?

My goal for 2015? To get the property management industry to #BeMoreSocial

James Biley is the Marketing & Communications Director for Countrywide Estate Management. If you enjoyed this article and would like to comment or ask questions you can tweet @JamesBiley and @FlatLivingLoves using #BeMoreSocial

Issue 20


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