EPMEPM: Customer ServiceEPM: Feature Interview

How to perfect the customer experience: Danelle Hunter

Danelle Hunter is one to watch when it comes to customer service – and she’s got the AREA to prove it. As Managing Director of Biggin & Scott Knox, here are her secrets for delivering the ultimate customer experience.

“I don’t like being quiet,” says Danelle Hunter. It’s why she chose a career in property management and what keeps her so responsive to her clients.

Danelle’s customer service dedication culminated in 2017 with a win at the AREAs, where she took the title for Excellence in Customer Service – Residential. But it’s clear that Danelle isn’t in it for the recognition; rather, she’s one of those people who just can’t switch off.

“I’m hopeless! If I’m awake at night I’ll reply to emails. I can be replying to emails at 3am. I have clients writing back to me saying, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you in bed?’ The other night someone asked for a financial statement and I sent it to him within two minutes at 8pm on a Friday.”

In her career Danelle has done a bit of everything, from reception to sales, which has led her to her current role in the top job. Her experience in customer service is at the forefront when she trains her staff, ensuring they’re delivering the same level of excellence she prides herself on.

“I focus on training new staff from the peer-to-peer system that I’ve developed. I start by putting someone on as my personal assistant, so I can train them in the way I work and make sure they’re answering emails the same day, doing everything the same day.”

Having the skills to keep clients happy is the beginning of what makes a good property manager, but there are more pieces to the puzzle. Being a quick thinker and staying cool under pressure are the other key features Danelle says are important if you’re going to be successful.

One thing she is quick to point out is that keeping clients happy doesn’t mean being a pushover. It’s important to show them that they’re using your services for a reason and they should trust your judgement. Danelle says she’s realised in her career that her clients respect her experience, and she no longer wastes time in places where it won’t deliver value.

I can be replying to emails at 3AM. I have clients saying, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you in bed?

“It’s important to maintain your properties well, and be firm with your landlords and tenants. I don’t let my landlords walk over me and say, ‘No, I won’t do that repair’. I let them know that they have no choice. I don’t waste time with multiple quotes; I’m clear that my tradesperson has been working with me for ten years and he’s great. He’ll give them the best price. Because my clients have that trust in me, it makes it easier for me to manage them and not waste time.”

As far as Danelle is concerned, delivering the kind of customer service that people rave about can easily be boiled down to responding in a timely fashion. The number one complaint property managers get is from clients who have had to wait too long for a reply. Even if it’s just a quick acknowledgement email while you look into a problem, Danelle says that making your clients feel heard is the quickest way to build trust.

“That’s the number one complaint I have when I’m signing up new business: they’ve had a bad experience with customer service. Respond quickly, even if it’s like, ‘I’m not sure of the answer – I need to look into it more and I’ll get back to you’. It’s better than ignoring them until you’ve thought it out.”

Danelle’s compulsion to respond to emails immediately stems from her time in sales, where an ignored request can equal a lost transaction. Bringing this experience to her property management offerings has allowed her to build a substantial rent roll of dedicated clients.

There are five offices currently under Danelle’s management, and her current focus is on growing those rent rolls. While one office has been grown to around 350 properties, another is just getting started, so she knows she’s got a lot of work ahead of her. But, considering her dedication to her clients, it seems unlikely that Danelle is scared of hard work.

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