For its fifth Tech Insights whitepaper, a series which aims to start a conversation around the future direction of residential block management, IRPM brought together a group of leading industry experts to discuss how technology can foster trust and improve customer service in the property management sector.
The ‘Building Trust: The Impact of Technology on Customer Service’ whitepaper centres around the customer, and how resident-focussed technology can deliver a better service whilst supporting property professionals in their roles. It also explores the services which can be provided to residents using data that property companies already hold.
At the moment, many existing digital solutions do not offer an optimal service and the sector is not capitalising on the data it has access to.
The whitepaper follows on from the January 2022 Information Overload: Where to Start with Data? paper, which focussed on data; how we use it, our understanding of it and how this is impacting the property management profession.
The latest 2022 whitepaper highlights events such as Grenfell, the cladding crisis and the Pandemic have reduced customer trust towards property management professionals. Technology can play a part in rebuilding this trust.
Furthermore, good digital solutions have the potential to allow residents to undertake self-service, saving both residents and property managers time, but this will depend on having better access to the large amounts of data at property manager’s fingertips.
Technology could also help increase transparency around areas such as service charge accounts, a common cause of complaint among residents at present.
Other key points covered in the whitepaper are:
- Apps need to be streamlined to work for consumers, and with consumer needs in mind.
- Self-service technology such as face recognition and QR codes can help agents and residents, but they should be honest about their capabilities and not over-promise.
- Make customers a part of your digital solutions by asking them what they want and need.
A July 2021 round-table discussion between seven industry and tech experts formed the basis of the whitepaper. Speakers represented tech suppliers, managing agents and Government-approved bodies, with FirstPort, The Property Ombudsman, The Property Institute and Ask Porter among those represented.
The paper was also supported by The Red Foundation, an initiative set up to ensure the real estate sector benefits from a safe, increased use of data in order to better serve society
The end of the whitepaper outlines future targets in relation to technology and the sector. These include:
- The IRPM wants to play a part in driving the use of helpful technology, by helping to set up pilot programmes to encourage sector collaboration.
- The standardisation and consolidation of platforms will be key to ensuring technology usage is seamless.
- The sector needs to pay particular attention to transparency around service charges. Technology can provide the solution here, rather than Government regulation.
The roundtable contributors included:
- Andrew Bulmer, TPI
- Bridget Wilkins, Built-ID
- Dan Hughes, Alpha Property Insight
- David Young, FirstPort
- Francois Chabaudie, Neoma
- Siobhan Fennell, formerly of The Property Ombudsman
- Tom Shrive, Ask Porter