Letting agencies can improve their customer service and relationships by focusing more on communication and record keeping, according to PayProp.
The lettings payment platform provider says the wide range of tools and products available to agents, coupled with a commitment to providing a personal and transparent service, can help agencies reduce the number of consumer complaints made about the industry.
A consistent cause of complaints
The most recent annual report from The Property Ombudsman (TPO), published last month, shows that poor record-keeping and client communication was the top cause of complaints made against letting agencies in 2018.
It is, moreover, a chronic and increasing concern, after being the second-most frequent lettings complaint in 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Communications failure was the most commonly cited reason for lettings complaints in 2014 and 2013, while it was poor service in 2012 and complaint handling in 2011.
Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp said, “Communication in particular, as well as record keeping, have for the last eight years been a common cause of consumer complaints against agents.
“More worryingly, the problem has worsened since 2015, which means the time has come for the industry to think more carefully about improving communication and record keeping across the board.”
How can agencies improve communication?
Agents need to adopt modern methods of communication to get the best results and keep their clients up to date more efficiently.
Cobbold said, “These days, consumers send and expect to receive much of their communications via their smartphones, often outside of traditional working hours.
“The best agencies all step up to meet these needs, providing digital-friendly information that is easy for people to access every step of the way.”
“Of course, the personal element of the lettings process remains hugely important, so agents still need to be available for phone calls and face-to-face meetings where possible,” he says.
How can an agency improve record keeping?
Efficient and transparent record keeping is a crucial part of an agent’s role when managing a landlord’s rental property, and according to the TPO’s report, it is important to consumers too.
He added, “Letting agencies can improve their record keeping by storing everything digitally and using technology solutions for basic administrative tasks to help reduce the margin for human error.
“Being able to see the live status of a portfolio with all the correct and up to date information can help agents to easily provide their clients with a full summary of what is going on, as well as greater visibility.
“This can help landlords and agents to stay on top of all issues and take the necessary steps to manage the tenancy accordingly.”
The value of PropTech in helping to reduce complaints
Although the vast majority of agencies receive a very small number of complaints, it’s still beneficial to consider the most common consumer issues and how to reduce their impact.
He said, “Technology has an important role to play in helping agents combat the most common causes of lettings complaints.
“For example, automating the appropriate functionality can improve record-keeping and save time, allowing them to focus on improving communications and providing a first-class, personal service.”