Category: Answering Service

How Long Should You Have to Wait to Get Rental Info?

Most property management companies leave would be renters waiting – and waiting

If you have ever tried to rent an apartment or lease office space, the results of recent testing of property management companies shouldn’t surprise you. As a group, property management companies are notoriously lax about returning calls from prospective tenants.

Test calls placed to property management operations afterhours – a time when most prospects would typically call – found that a shocking 87 percent went to voicemail, where callers heard an automated greeting, followed by that ubiquitous, impersonal beep to leave a message. “What’s even more appalling is what happened after callers left their messages – in these cases, requests for rental information,” said Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, which sponsored the investigative study.

Of those 87 percent of calls that went to voicemail, only 8 percent of the property management companies called back within four hours. The best response was thirty-one minutes, placing it within the acceptable range advocated by industry expert Angela Garfinkel, who is president of Quality Contact Solutions. She says, “Fifteen minutes would be preferable.” Though the best response missed this mark by over 100 percent, it did nicely fall within Garfinkel’s upper limit of “one hour at the most.”

But that’s just one call. The rest of the calls in this first tier, the best of the batch, completely missed that mark.

In tier two, 18.4 percent took more than eighteen hours, up to thirty-six hours, to call back. That’s a day and a half. “Think about what thirty-six hours represents,” said Berkson. “If someone leaves a message on Tuesday evening, for example, they wouldn’t get a call back until Thursday morning.”

The third segment, accounting for 24.1 percent, took more than a day and a half.

What about the remaining 49.4 percent? “For almost half of the messages we left, we’re still waiting for a return call,” quipped Bill Haack who conducted the test.

(Interestingly, no companies called back within the range of four to eighteen hours.)

“How can these operations stay in business?” asked Berkson. “Why do property owners continue to trust these companies when their customer service skills are so poor?” As an industry, this does not bode well. “The good news, however, is that it won’t take much for a property management company to stand out.”

Berkson gives two primary suggestions, which are really just customer service common sense. “First, have a person answer your phone.” When property management staff isn’t in the office, either because they are showing a rental or their shift is over, they should have an answering service answer their calls.

“Second,” continues Berkson, “call people back promptly.” Shoot for fifteen minutes, with a maximum of an hour. Everyone should aim for that standard.

“Property management companies that do these two simple things will outshine their competition,” Berkson concludes.

The test calls were placed by trained agents from May 9 to May 25, 2016 to one hundred property management companies across the United States. Testing coordinator Bill Haack oversaw the test calling and compiled the results.

Peter DeHaan, PhD, is a freelance writer, call center authority, and publisher of Connections Magazine, which covers the call center industry.