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Q. Which methods of collections/follow-up do you find the most effective?
A. With technology changing, trying to communicate through only one channel, such as the phone, means you are missing out on opportunities. A multi-channel approach with a mixture of text, email and phone, is the best way to get a hold of a potential lead and convince them to rent with you or pay a past due charge. Some customers respond to phone calls better than texts, and some prefer to communicate via email. There is a mixture of preferences from each consumer base. I would encourage you to automate this as well if possible. To only follow up with your leads via phone is not the best strategy.
Q. How often do you recommend following up with leads?
A. As soon as possible! Your goal should be a quick response. With automation, you can also measure how quickly leads are being followed up and which methods are converting the most leads.
Q. What is a robocall? How does it work?
A. A robocall is an automated phone call that plays a recorded message to certain people based on factors/triggers you set. You can actually make the recording yourself or have one of your managers record it as an mp3 or wav file. The audio file then needs to be uploaded into the system. Upon a trigger (i.e. 5 days late on rent) the robo call is sent to a person or people and when they answer the call they’ll hear that recording. For example, the recording can be a message from your manager saying that “a payment is due. To make a payment, please press 1.” And then if the customer presses 1, it moves them into a payment portal where they can use a card on file if they have one.
This automated recording can be made internally, or through a service. There are several available online where, for a fee, you can send a script and have someone read it. In some cases you can choose the voice you like best from a set of options.
You’re basically giving past due tenants a quick way to pay! It’s a call to action to rectify a late payment or other issue. And as long as the technology is there, they can take immediate action.
Q. Is pay-by-phone handled through SiteLink?
A. Pay-by-phone is a feature of CallPotenial's Collection Manager product, but CallPotential does not actually charge or processes their credit card. We push that data into SiteLink through SiteLink's API for processing. There are other pay-by-phone providers who also integrate with SiteLink.
Q. Is there any company you recommend for a facility that wants to do a personal robocall? Can you have multiple messages?
A. CallPotential! It’s really easy to record your script using your own personal verbiage. Yes, you can have multiple messages. You may want different workflows for various scenarios, such as the amount of time past due. You can set it up with different triggers for leads and collections. This automation and efficiency allows your managers to focus on what’s most important.
Q. Should we be concerned about the potential complaints from customers about SMS charges?
A. We haven’t seen this issue come up, but there is always the potential for it. The receiver of a text (SMS) message may be charged if they are not on an unlimited plan. Fortunately, there is an option to opt out of (unsubscribe to) these text messages. Ideally, it’s nice to have technology in place to see who is opting out of SMS messages to get a clear understanding of your customer. Then you can reach out to them in a way they prefer and with greater success. When discussing SMS notifications with your tenants, ask them what costs more, a text message reminding/helping them to pay or subsequent late fees?
Q. Will technology replace my job?
A. Great question! Many people are concerned about that these days. I don’t think technology is a replacement for our jobs, it just assists us. It’s great to have a kiosk in place for people who don’t want to talk to anyone. Also, if your store has seasonal rush times, like in a college town, it’s nice to have the option not to wait in line.
Technology is simply opening up a different channel for a consumer to interact and do business with you. It should be cost efficient and make sense. But, it’s still important to have people at your properties. For example, you still need people to maintain your facility. And you need to accommodate people who like talking with you directly. Having a self-serve option as part of your multi-channel approach to customer service can be very effective.
Q. What program do you recommend so customers can access the gate with their phone?
Q. If I have my own call center, what hours do I need to have my call center open?
A. It depends on your business. It’s a good idea to take a look at how calls are coming in to your store and create a solution that works within your business plan. As an example, I know of one manager who found that over 80% of leads coming in after hours were either the hour before opening or the hour after closing. So he made slight adjustments to the hours at his sites - one store opened an hour earlier, another closed an hour later. With all his collective managers able to answer calls (through web-based call center software) and service customers across all properties (thanks to SiteLink), this captured more calls that otherwise would have went unanswered–it operated like a call center, on site. You’ll need the data to make these decisions and the technology to implement it.
Q. What is the best order of follow-up approaches to use in a multi-channel strategy?
A. There is no exact order for this. Every market if different so you have to be flexible. For example, you may have a market that is very tech-savvy so you start with email and text, and use robocalls later in the workflow. Sometimes it also requires a bit of trial and error to get the best mix.
It’s a good idea to have software that includes the ability to make these changes as necessary. CallPotential has suggestions that are out-of-the-box, but can customize to your market of course. It’s most important to be aware of how your customer wants to do business and how they want you to communicate with them.