When residents are upset it can be challenging for onsite staff. Difficulties arise for all sorts of reasons during the course of resident life and it is enevitable that property offices will need to handle upset, angry, and disgruntled residents from time to time.
Organizational training programs should have indepth protocols for handling conflicts, finding resolutions, and reducing negative impacts on the community. This post will highlight some important approaches to consider, and some tactics that can be employed in the pursuit of quickly resolving problems and disputes with residents.
There are are typically 4 stages in resident issue resolution that are often included in standard training materials:
This is a very good start to put us in the right orientation to approach a more comprehensive view of problem resolution. Dealing with upset residents in a multifamily apartment community requires empathy, effective communication, and proactive problem-solving. Below is a guideline we have assembled to help onsite staff think through the ways they will approach the next angry resident they encounter.
We (Leasing Chat) don’t deal directly with residents (often), but we do deal with upset prospects from time to time, and so we have thought long and hard about the best ways to communicate with them and build to productive resolutions. This is part of the structure we employ, and it is immenantly applicable to resident issues and conflicts.
I. Initial Contact and Assessment
A. Listen Actively
- Give the resident your full attention.
- Allow them to express their concerns without interruption.
- Acknowledge their emotions and frustrations.
- Show that you understand their perspective.
II. Resolve Immediate Concerns
A. Determine the Issue
- Ask clarifying questions to fully understand the problem.
- Identify if it’s a maintenance issue, a neighbor dispute, a policy concern, etc.
B. Immediate Solutions
- If possible, provide a quick solution or temporary fix.
- If not, explain the steps that will be taken to address the issue.
III. Communicate Effectively
- Keep the resident informed about the process and timelines.
- Share any relevant policies or regulations.
B. Be Polite and Respectful
- Use a calm and professional tone.
- Avoid defensive or confrontational language.
IV. Escalation and Involvement
A. Involve the Appropriate Parties
- If necessary, engage maintenance, property management, or other relevant personnel.
- Maintain clear lines of communication with the resident during this process.
B. Document the Issue
- Keep records of all interactions, including dates, times, and details discussed.
- Document any actions taken to resolve the problem.
V. Follow Up
A. Timely Check-Ins
- Follow up with the resident to ensure the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction.
- Offer assistance if any further concerns arise.
B. Gather Feedback
- Ask the resident for feedback on the resolution process.
- Use this feedback to improve your property management approach.
VI. Preventative Measures
A. Review Policies
- Consider whether property policies need adjustment to prevent similar issues in the future.
- Communicate any policy changes to residents.
B. Resident Education
- Host informational sessions or distribute materials to educate residents on community rules and expectations.
- Encourage open communication channels.
VII. Learn from the Experience
- Conduct internal meetings to discuss the situation and identify areas for improvement.
- Share insights with the property management team.
- Provide training to staff members on how to handle upset residents effectively.
- Focus on conflict resolution, empathy, and communication skills.
VIII. Long-Term Relationship Building
A. Foster Positive Relationships
- Continue to engage with residents in a friendly and respectful manner.
- Create opportunities for community building and social interaction.
B. Regular Surveys
- Conduct periodic surveys to gather resident feedback and identify potential issues before they become major concerns.
Remember that each situation is unique, and flexibility in your approach is essential. The goal is to create a community where residents feel heard, valued, and where their concerns are addressed promptly and professionally.
Training Techniques and Exercies
Working on-site at a property can be more challenging than it seems. It’s important to have regular training sessions with staff from all departments to learn effective communication skills. Here are a few areas to work on and group exercies that can be beneficial during training:
1. Communication Skills: Training programs emphasize the importance of effective communication, active listening, and empathetic responses. Leasing agents are taught how to engage with residents and prospects in a respectful and understanding manner.
2. Role-Playing Exercises: Leasing agents may participate in role-playing exercises that simulate common conflict scenarios they might encounter. These exercises allow agents to practice their conflict resolution skills in a safe environment.
3. De-Escalation Techniques: Agents learn techniques to de-escalate tense situations, diffuse anger, and handle difficult conversations with professionalism and composure.
4. Understanding Resident Perspectives: Training programs often teach leasing agents how to see situations from the perspective of the residents, enabling agents to empathize with their concerns and find mutually beneficial solutions.
5. Conflict Resolution Policies: Leasing agents are educated about the conflict resolution policies and procedures specific to the multifamily property they work for. This knowledge helps them address conflicts in a manner consistent with the property’s guidelines.
6. Empowerment to Solve Issues: Leasing agents are empowered to resolve minor issues promptly and effectively. They are trained to identify situations they can handle independently and when to escalate problems to higher management.
7. Customer Service Training: Conflict resolution is often a part of broader customer service training for leasing agents. They learn how exceptional customer service, even in challenging situations, can lead to positive outcomes.
8. Ongoing Support and Feedback: Multifamily companies often provide ongoing support and feedback to leasing agents. Regular team meetings and feedback sessions allow agents to discuss challenging situations and learn from the experiences of their colleagues.
It’s important to note that the extent and depth of conflict resolution training can vary from one multifamily housing management company to another. But the industry as a whole has recognized the significance of these skills in creating a positive living environment for residents and a successful working environment for leasing agents.
Conflict resolution skills are crucial for leasing agents as they regularly deal with difficult situations involving residents, and sometimes even prospective residents during the application or pre-move process. Even inter-office conflicts are not uncommon in fast paced and busy property offices.
Upset residents need to be given priority, because angry residents will have negative ripple effects to a community. The upset resident will speak with neighbors and others in the community, bringing doubts to others about the staffs ability to mitigate and handle problems effectively. It can also result in negative reviews and ratings of the community online, which can damage a properties' reputation long term.
Ultimately, the goal is to have a positive and supportive living environment for residents, and by practicing conflict resolution techniques and having policies and procedures to handle problems, properties will be more effective at keeping their residents happier!