EPMEPM: Technology & Social

Using Technology to Build Relationships: Alister Maple-Brown

The world today barely resembles the one we lived in just 10 years ago. Technology is integrated into our lives at virtually every moment of every day. Fortunately it's making our lives easier and businesses more productive – and it’s creating opportunities for property managers when it comes to building relationships.

Today’s world is filled with technology; so much so that many feel it’s making us ‘less human’.

Our mobile devices are never far from reach. We sit at the family dinner table using one hand to eat and the other to tap away on our iPad. We go to our kids’ soccer game on the weekend with our smartphone pinging away in our back pocket with the arrival of every text message. And we perch ourselves in bed late at night with our laptop to do one last check of our inbox before turning the light off.

Technology has permeated our business lives too. We all seem to be locked in a constant battle with overflowing inboxes and an avalanche of text messages. Yes, we’re communicating more with our clients. But do we actually have better relationships with them?

Real estate has been and always will be about relationships – and technology can be leveraged to enhance your client relationships.

Your clients expect to always be ‘in the know’. Whether it’s an investor wanting confirmation that rent is up to date or a tenant asking for the status of a repair request, clients have a ‘now’ mentality. If you meet their expectations, it’s a good building block for your relationship. But if you don’t, you may find your relationship on shaky ground.

Staying on top of everything is challenging, but it doesn’t always have to be. Enter automated alerts. The beauty of automated alerts is that you can define trigger points for particular communications to go out. Whether it’s arrears, inspections or maintenance, automated alerts can help you take control of the communication process and alleviate your workload. At the same time, you’re building your client relationships.

With PropertyTree’s fully integrated Automated Communications platform, you can effectively ‘set and forget’ and let PropertyTree do all the hard work for you. It’s easy and effective – and you’re communicating with your clients in real time.

Have your relationships with your clients been enhanced through this automation? Yes. But is it enough? Definitely not.

With the rise of email, SMS and the plethora of other messaging apps, many of us no longer take the time to pick up the phone.

Yes, it’s easy to type a quick email or tap out a short text message. But would your client relationships benefit more if you took the time to speak with them? The impact of hearing your voice, being able to ask questions and knowing that you’ve taken time out of your busy day to touch base with them shouldn’t be underestimated.

But let’s take it one step further.

Rather than just being a voice at the other end of the line, let your clients see you.

Using apps like FaceTime and Skype has become second nature for many of us in our personal lives. We all have the tools we need in our pocket and on our desk, so why aren’t more of us using them to strengthen our relationships with our clients?

Human beings are visual creatures, and FaceTime and Skype allow you to communicate via two senses, sound and sight, rather than just one. Allowing your clients to connect with you visually is a powerful way to build your relationships.

So now that you’ve come out from behind your device and connected with clients over the phone, what’s the next step?

Without a doubt, relationships are best built in person. We undoubtedly respond better to people whom we’ve met and interacted with. Yes, having lunch or a coffee with a client takes time, but it’s time well spent.

‘But where will I find the time?’, I hear you ask.

Fundamentally, property management is a people business and technology can give property managers the time they need to interact with clients. That’s why using tools like automated alerts is so important. They save time. Far from detracting from your client communications, they allow you to have a better quality of interaction. You’re free of being bogged down with routine and mundane communications. You have time to meet with your landlords and talk about how they can maximise their investment.

And let’s not forget that, when you’re out and about with clients, technology gives you on-the-spot access to the information you need. If a client asks a question, you want to be able to give them the answer right away. It’s not good enough to say, ‘I’ll let you know once I’m back in the office’. By using a cloud-based property management solution like PropertyTree, you can access everything you need when you’re out and about. All you need is your device and access to the internet.

Using technology to communicate with your clients is an extremely valuable way to build relationships. But don’t let your relationships get lost in cyberspace.

You’ll never replace your friendly voice with an email or your genuine smile with an emoji.

While technology can help you leverage your natural abilities, it will never replace them – so take advantage of the tools on offer to enhance your client relationships.

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Alister Maple-Brown

Alister Maple-Brown is the CEO of leading property management software provider Rockend. For more information visit rockend.com.au.