Navigating the Intersection of Technology and Resident Interactions
Thanks to advances in technology, we have access to a wide array of self-service solutions designed to streamline operations and make life more convenient for both property managers and residents. However, as we put all this shiny new technology to work, it’s important to keep in mind that the heart of successful property management lies in creating places people want to call home, and the best way to achieve that is by fostering resident engagement and cultivating a sense of community. Therefore, finding the right balance between technology-driven self-service solutions and human connection is essential for ensuring resident satisfaction and well-being in today's digital landscape.
The best of both worlds — empowering residents while increasing engagement
Without question, technology has revolutionized property management by simplifying processes and improving efficiency. One of the most significant advantages is the empowerment of residents through self-service options that allow them to quickly and easily access essential services, such as paying rent or submitting maintenance requests from the comfort of their homes. This level of convenience not only saves time but also enhances the overall resident experience. Another key advantage is the enhancement of streamlined communication between residents, onsite teams and fellow community members. With the use of online portals, residents can receive important announcements, community updates, event notifications and engage in community forums. As residents engage more through the technology offered at their community, satisfaction and loyalty is built. For property managers, self-service technology increases online payment adoption, drives more renewals and monetizes community amenities, events and rentable items — all while improving staff efficiency.
However, as with any new advancement, there are new things to consider. Specifically, around how to find organic and genuine ways to interact with residents when rent checks are no longer being dropped off at the office every month, maintenance requests are made through the resident portal rather than in person and packages are picked up at a package locker instead of from behind the leasing desk. While residents nowadays want (and expect) to be able to do such activities at their own leisure, property management teams need to find ways to mitigate the impact of reduced face-to-face interactions by making personal communication a priority. This includes maintaining open lines of communication, being responsive to resident inquiries and actively seeking opportunities to engage with residents in person or virtually.
Use technology to strengthen communication
It goes without saying that getting to know residents personally helps build connections and strengthen relationships. It all starts with great leasing agents who invest time in meaningful conversations with residents, learning important details, such as their birthdays, pet names and communication preferences. Utilizing these personal interactions over the course of a resident's stay at the community is what truly sets apart outstanding experiences.
However, managing the timing of outreach efforts can be challenging and difficult to keep track of. This is where resident experience technology comes into play. With the assistance of technology, timely birthday greetings can consistently reach residents, whether through personalized portal messages or reward points given through an automated community rewards program. Renewal notifications can also be more personalized and intentional, as leasing agents receive regular alerts about upcoming renewals. This allows them to assess the renewal offerings and proactively communicate with residents.
While face-to-face interactions may not be as prevalent, the efficiencies gained with technology provides onsite teams the ability to be proactive and intentional around how and when they communicate to residents, and this can make a significant difference.
The importance of fostering a sense of community
The essence of resident experience technology lies in its ability to enhance face-to-face interactions rather than replace them. Property management teams can harness technology, such as resident portals, to facilitate community-building efforts. Through online forums or social media groups hosted on these platforms, residents can connect with one another, share their experiences and collaborate on organizing events.
This approach involves seamlessly blending the digital and real-world experiences, strengthening the bonds between neighbors and nurturing a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging can manifest in various ways. For example, onsite teams can initiate community engagement campaigns tailored to specific interests or hobbies, whether it's organizing a gathering for animal lovers or pickleball enthusiasts. By notifying residents who have expressed interest in these activities, onsite teams create an inviting environment where like-minded neighbors can come together, effectively bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds.
Finding the sweet spot between technology-driven self-service solutions and resident engagement in property management is a key to success in today's digital age. Technology should be viewed as a tool to enhance the resident experience, not as a substitute for human connection. By using technology to empower residents, personalize communication and build community, property management teams can strike the right balance.
As technology automates various tasks, property managers must remain committed to maintaining personal connections with residents. Regular check-ins, virtual community events and intentional communication are essential components of this effort.
In the end, property management is not just about managing properties — it's about creating and maintaining thriving communities where residents feel valued, supported and connected. The successful property manager of the digital age understands that technology is a means to this end, but the heart of the matter is always the people and the sense of community they foster.