The way consumers interact with brands today is drastically different than the way it used to be. And that shift is due in large part to technology. Digital interfaces, online communication, and accessibility to brands via digital channels, is extremely important to consumers regardless of industry. However, at the end of the day, nothing really compares to human-to-human interaction.
Consumers can Tweet at or comment on Instagram or Facebook to a brand, they can surf the website, and purchase or research any product they want. And that’s great! In real estate, the data proves that many renters and home buyers go online first when looking for a new home. In 2016, 44% percent looked online first. Now, over 90% of buyers and renters start their search online.
That online-first mentality is even truer for the Millennial and Gen Z demographics. Millennials and Gen Z love digital – there is no denying that. Yet, despite how much focus there is on mobile and smartphone dependency for these groups, there is still something to be said about the importance of human touch points, expertise, and interaction, particularly when renting an apartment.
Now, more than ever, multifamily owners and managers need to find ways to blend digital experiences with the desire for authentic, transparent, HUMAN interaction. Here are a few reasons why human interactions, particularly when blended with the digital, are still a critical piece of the puzzle:
Finding the voice of the expert
This may seem like it’s ‘going against the grain’, but nothing is more powerful than the voice of the expert. What do people do when they need to know information? First, they probably Google their question. Then, after looking around, they will likely end up watching a video that covers what they are looking for. That’s because they’re looking for the voice of an expert and an expert’s opinion on the topic. Now more than ever, multifamily leasing teams need to equip themselves to be that voice and be those experts to their prospective residents online. Video is the ideal way to merge human and digital, particularly if distance prevents someone from physically getting to the property. Video allows the human “realness” factor to come through yet still allows prospective residents to find what they need on their own time and in the way they are most comfortable with.
Bringing human realness to the mix
Speaking of human realness and transparency — why is it important? It’s so important because Millennials and Gen Z, two of the largest demographics to hit the multifamily market ever, demand realness and transparency with the brands they interact with – and where they live is no different. Video allows for the personality of the community and leasing agents to shine through. It give a sense of human interaction to what could otherwise simply come across as a staged, fabricated marketing ploy. Nothing is more important to Millennials and Gen Z when looking for their next place to live than feeling a connecting to the space, trusting what they’re seeing as accurate and real, and feeling a baseline connection with the person showing it to them in order to trust that person as well. This is even more true if the prospect can’t visit the property in person.
Sometimes, Millennials and Gen Z just want someone to listen to them — a real person with real thoughts, the ability to empathize, and a method to, hopefully, solve their problem or help them find the information they are looking for. Live video is the perfect way to instantly foster an open environment where trust can flourish and you, the leasing agent, can simply listen to what that prospective resident needs you to hear. Gen Z consider email an outdated means of communication, so before you go straight to relying on email and expect a Millennial or Gen Z to type out everything they’re thinking or hesitating on, have a quick video chat or offer a live tour with them. Answer any questions they may have and make that prospective new resident as comfortable as possible with the situation at hand. This is also a great way to get everything on the table earlier in the process and preempt any issues that may prevent a lease signing down the road.
The customer experience
At the end of the day, customer experience is the make or break when it comes to getting a lease signed. Relying fully on technology will leave gaps and create a break down at some point in the process, but relying solely on in person meetings and tours as well will leave gaps and break downs in the process as well. Having a marriage of tech and traditional leasing tactics and tools at your team’s disposal will equip them to offer the type and volume of touch points necessary to give each individual prospect the exact customer experience they are seeking during their rental process. The pillar for each of those tools though is the leasing agent at the center of each touchpoint, managing the process from initial contact, to move-in and beyond. With the right video platform, the day-to-day management of tours, follow-ups, and touch points can be easily managed, with reminders set, communications in the pipeline, and strategic insight into next steps needed to progress that prospect towards a signed lease.
The need and desire for new technology is well documented and fully supported. However, platforms or technologies that lose or eliminate that human touch can be a huge miss for a multifamily company in today’s market. Striking that perfect combination of human and tech is a balancing act; however, equipping a savvy leasing agents will produce results and benefits will be reaped.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our insights on today’s leasing environment or how to truly connect with today’s prospective residents, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re here to help.
Until next time…keep it real!