What does customer satisfaction mean for CEOs of rental housing companies?

August 10, 2023

Monitoring and developing tenant satisfaction is one of the most important things for a rental housing company's business and tenant satisfaction is affected by a wide range of factors.

For the development of tenant satisfaction, it is of paramount importance to listen carefully to tenant feedback and make changes based on it if possible. The future of housing is digital, emphasizing the growth of tenant demand, launching new services as part of tenants' daily lives, and a shift in the duration of living towards shorter stays.

We interviewed eight CEOs of rental housing companies and investigated what resident satisfaction means to them.

What does resident satisfaction mean to you?

"Housing and home are the most important things people have." Tuukka Tuomala, Hämeenlinnan Asunnot

"Living should leave a positive feeling. This is achieved by optimizing encounters and creating a good mood for the customer service recipient." Marko Ylimäki, VOAS

"Residents are satisfied when living does not cause problems. At best, they feel they are getting added value from their housing." Sami Siikala, Sevas

"A home should be a place where one feels good." Ville Jäntti, Heinolan vuokra-asunnot

A home is an important place for people, as they spend a significant portion of their lives there. Therefore, it is the responsibility of rental housing companies to ensure their residents are satisfied with their living conditions. As a real estate professional, you can influence the comfort of your property in many ways. Comfort has a direct impact on people's well-being and mental health, and a pleasant resident experience is one of the most important factors in building a long-term resident relationship.

Resident satisfaction is a multidimensional concept that includes everything from the time a tenant spends in their apartment to moving in and out. Residents' satisfaction depends on many factors, such as the location of the apartment, services, the calmness and safety of the living environment, good customer service, the condition and size of the apartment, and the feeling of being comfortable at home.

We interviewed eight different CEOs of rental housing companies to find out what they think about resident satisfaction, how they measure it, and how they strive to develop their properties to meet residents' needs.

How is resident satisfaction measured?

From the interviews, it was revealed that rental housing companies measure resident satisfaction in different ways: usually during move-ins and move-outs, after service situations, or through an annual survey to the entire resident base. On average, about 10-20% of residents respond to satisfaction surveys. Approximately 30 companies in Finland use benchmark data so that they can compare their resident satisfaction to other rental housing companies. This is important because satisfaction in different industries cannot be compared to this industry. In addition to resident satisfaction surveys, feedback is collected through resident contact. Some rental housing companies have noticed that measuring resident satisfaction continuously is beneficial, not just during move-ins and move-outs.

Metrics for measuring resident satisfaction include:

NPS - Net Promoter Score

NPS is one of the most common indicators used to measure resident satisfaction. It answers the question "How likely are you to recommend the company's services to a friend?"

A good resident experience improves the reputation of the property and the landlord. Tenants who enjoy their apartment and feel valued are more likely to recommend the property to their acquaintances. A positive reputation for resident satisfaction makes negotiations with potential new tenants easier and can even enable rent increases.

SatisFacts' Biennial Online Renter Study reveals that when considering renting an apartment, 79% of people check the company's online reviews before contacting them. That's why NPS matters. The more satisfied your residents are, the more spontaneous recommendations they will give to potential new tenants.

What actions do you take in response to the results of resident satisfaction surveys?

It was consistently stated that the results of resident satisfaction surveys are extremely important for rental housing companies in terms of developing their operations. The results are reviewed with the entire staff: good feedback delights the staff and their successful work can be emphasized. In case of negative feedback, the most important thing is to contact the resident, apologize for the situation, and address and solve any problems if necessary. Many companies also go through the feedback with cleaning and maintenance companies. The goal is to find areas for development and improve service quality.

How do you improve resident satisfaction in your properties? What kind of investments are made?

Utilizing digitalization, good customer service, property condition, and active resident engagement are key factors in developing resident satisfaction. Responding to housing disturbances is really important, especially in urgent and acute situations where immediate action must be taken to shorten response times as much as possible.

Various investments are made based on satisfaction surveys - major actions include adding electronic services. Some rental housing companies already have some electronic services in use, but there would certainly be no harm in adding more. Digital services are increasingly valued in the real estate industry, and it is important for residents to be able to receive customer service in digital form as well.

Taking into account residents' opinions and wishes and actively involving them in decision-making are important ways to increase resident satisfaction. In some companies, resident democracy is used, where residents have the opportunity to influence decision-making and the development of the property. All in all, it is important to listen to residents and take into account their needs and expectations in improving resident satisfaction.

What does the tenant demand in 10 years?

"Basic functions must be easily accessible and rental housing may become impersonal. Young people no longer want to call anyone to get service."

"Additional services are considered an important value as part of housing. For example, cleaning services are desired."

"In the future, tenants will demand the ability to live for a short or long time. The basic condition of the apartment must be very good." Marko Ylimäki, VOAS

"The tenant expects comprehensive electronic services to be in order." Jaakko Kammonen, Espoon Asunnot

"Housing is an experience." Hanna Heinonen, Nokian Vuokrakodit

"The level of demand is constantly increasing." Tuukka Tuomala, Hämeenlinnan Asunnot

"Speed and ease of use." Jari Niemi, Kouvolan Asunnot

In general, the demand for housing will increase. Housing no longer only means the apartment itself, but the housing experience also includes other services, such as cleaning or charging electric cars. Living is expected to be an experience. Digital services will be at the forefront, and especially young people expect customer service to be digital. The digitization of customer service is a significant competitive advantage for a rental housing company: thus, one significant factor affecting tenant satisfaction, customer service response time, can be shortened.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the interviews!

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