Comment & blog
GET LIVING has been at the forefront of bringing customer experience to the property industry.
And now the founder partners of Experience Makers are putting their considerable expertise into our ROX consortium, which is working to deliver a process so property companies can measure the return on the hard cash they invest in keeping their customers happy.
Get Living launched its first homes for rent in 2013 at East Village, the apartments having been used to house the world’s athletes during London 2012. Since then Get Living have pioneered customer-friendly initiatives in the build-to-rent sector (BTR) across the UK. No deposits, easily understandable contracts, and three-year tenancies (with resident-only break clauses) have made renting increasingly occupier-friendly.
“Build-to-rent still has a strong bricks-and-mortar aspect but customer experience is the key differentiator,” said Get Living’s brand, product and technology leader Christian Armstrong. “It’s not completely all-encompassing but it’s not far off and it features in all the discussions we have around investment and product and in all the decisions we make.”
The pillars of the Get Living brand purpose are that their homes should be fulfilling for their customers, processes should be seamless, community connections are vital and everything they do should amplify brand awareness. While these are the mantra for the business, they are also the key drivers around which Get Living build their CX offerings.
CX features in all the discussions we have around investment and product and in all the decisions we make.”
“Also, we talk about whether it will make us more efficient, make the experience smoother. It might be a back-office process but if it makes our team more efficient and can spend more time with our customers, then we will invest in it as well. If it hits those markers, it’s something we would seriously consider.”
Sometimes, however, it still comes down to a gut feeling around what is right.
“Occasionally, because of the ethos we have as a company, we just want to do the right thing. For example, supporting foodbanks in London and Manchester during the pandemic probably does tick boxes around community interaction and brand awareness but we did it because instinctively it was the right thing to do.”
Obtaining feedback has also been an essential component of CX policy and Get Living have used an imaginative variety of methods to gain customer insight around every aspect of their BTR offering.
Traditional surveys have been supplemented by methods including online reviews, Wi-Fi data gathering, customer panels and social media monitoring.
“We are always asking the questions because we can take it back and make it the basis of what we do in the future. Our feedback from Phase 1 in Manchester is already informing what we are doing in Phase 2.
The data is really important but what you actually do with it is pivotal – you have to close that feedback loop.”
Industry gold standard
However, for all the data that is now routinely collected, the property industry does not have a standard feedback metric that allows for accurate comparison between peers.
Armstrong said: “We know we have a BTR Team of the Year (UKAA’s 2020 Build to Rent Awards) and we can look at our Net Promoter or customer satisfaction scores and compare them with Apple and the like so there is good cross-sectional measurement. But because there is not a single, unified benchmark for our industry it is difficult to see if we are doing the best job in our industry.
''When I worked in hospitality, we had common standards and it really altered the landscape tremendously."
“When I worked in hospitality, we had common standards and it really altered the landscape tremendously. We knew if we were performing better than our competitors and that is what is lacking in current approaches.
“At the moment, if I measure myself as four out of five is that better than someone else who might have three out of five after using a different tool? We don’t want to drown in data, but we do want to measure what is important and what is driving value.”
So is customer experience an operational tool helping to inform Get Living’s overall strategy, or is it a financial reporting tool aimed at investors?
A bit of both
“It has been both for quite some time now,” said Armstrong. “We have always been very operational around customer experience – evaluating the activities or events that we run, or monitoring our customer journey, for example – but we have also been very vocal to our investors about why we believe it is important and why we value it at the heart of our offering.
“We have picked up awards and that goes some way towards convincing investors that this is the right platform for their investment. For a long-term investor, which we are very grateful to have, you are putting that investment into something which is built around customer experience, as well as the other financial metrics, and that makes the business much more sustainable.”
Support for 'Return on Experience' Research
Get Living is throwing its wholehearted support behind the research Experience Makers have commissioned to develop a framework and metrics which will measure the return on experience in the property industry. Customer-experience consultancy RealService is conducting the groundbreaking exploration of the brief set by the Experience Makers’ ROX consortium. The aim is to report on the findings in spring 2021.
The research aims to answer two key questions:
- What makes a great customer experience now?
- How can the return on investment of customer experience be demonstrated?
As Armstrong said: “A common, agreed standard of industry metrics would really help. It would help us have ongoing conversations – as we have started via the Experience Makers ROX consortium – around sharing experiences and learning from each other.”