We take our fair share of difficult calls here and so we thought we would share our top ways of dealing with them.
It’s been postmortem time as we review the recent brutal weekend storms
Approximately a 250% uplift in calls (in some periods 400%) which meant that although we pulled almost every available staff member in we were at a staffing level of 175% (and everyone can do that math).
This resulted in, at several points, real difficulty for some residents being able to get through and when they did, increased answering times from our usual average of sub 25 seconds to in excess, at points, of 20 minutes and this when our clients most need us.
With weather patterns becoming more extreme this is now going from a once every 18 months occurrence to a twice a year one and leaves us with the question of how to provide the service for those 2 out of 52 weekends without just adding 200 staff in order to always be able to cope but therefore having to charge accordingly.
Whilst recently researching a piece on customer service and what we and others have to, on occasion, endure my colleagues provided some shocking examples
It was probably made more so as they landed in my inbox in the space of 2 days and listening back to the calls was very uncomfortable to say the least; in their raw form they were not suitable for the article but we wanted to put the sentiments out there as it may add to the conversation as I have heard, and indeed read here, that things have worsened recently and this especially in regard to property management.
We felt most suitable (?) way was the video below – the comments get more extreme as they go and although represent 1 in 2500 odd calls that is approx 4 a week to our contact centre and these are just recent examples and I left out many more.
That’s the percentage of issues raised out of hours (based on 10+ years and over a million calls) that are actual emergencies.
But if you are responsible for your out of hours service make sure those taking your calls have the time to serve the 64% just as much as the 36%.
Why? Because to provide excellent customer service those “non-emergencies” (which the caller making the report almost certainly believes is urgent) need to be on an equal footing.
It is quite easy to deal with most emergencies providing you have available resources, engineers and property expertise.
It can, however, be a whole new and more difficult skillset to address why an issue does not warrant an immediate response. If this is not carried out suitably with enough empathy and understanding it can reflect poorly.
To limit the number of total calls received you can also implement any of the following;
1. a sensible pre-connection notice to remind/advise callers are reaching the emergency line
2. multi-channel options like chat (AI and manned)
3. maintenance software that can accept requests and only pass to emergency staff on fulfilment of certain criteria
4. portal access with downloadable accounts/insurance etc
If you are responsible for your company’s property out of hours calls or maybe just procurement or contractor supply chain, what trades should you expect to need?
Based on 65000 plus emergency calls last year over block and AST/BTR portfolios the following will give you an idea (in percentage terms so you can apply as applicable) of what types of engineers you will need to call on for all ad-hoc arising issues where instruction is required;
13% will require a plumber, it is unsurprising that this is the number 1 cause of call-outs.
4.75% an electrician.
4% drainage specialists.
3% domestic gas engineers.
For interest around 14.5% of all incoming calls will require lift engineers to attend, 6.75% access control specialists and 3% commercial boiler engineers although these were all covered by contracted companies.
Oh, and you could, judging by last year, need an occasional snake wrangler but don’t spend too much time sourcing one of those as that need represented just 0.0015%.
If you feel that the full rundown could assist you in your out of hours requirements please contact us as we are happy to share.
We have just finished the now quarterly review of our standard procedures for Out of Hours cover for Block, Lettings, Commercial and Warranty portfolios.
We do this to ensure best median guidelines and then let our clients bespoke, as long as within current law, to reflect their business and approach. We are now at version 6.0 with over 100 different historical iterations as we stay up to date with new legislation and current best practice.
Clients will be updated shortly but If anyone can benefit from a copy then you can download from the RESOURCES section of the this website.
So how many people do you need to run an out of hours service for property during those overnight?
Below is a hastily put together graph of the pattern over the last 3 years of calls whilst looking after between 400,000 in 2017 and 600,000 properties now. Although I did remove the number of calls axis it shows the way data can be used to predict expected volumes i.e don’t be fooled when it gets up to 2.30am and calls have been dropping. It is remarkable that the patterns remain no matter how many units you model on.
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions of why specific days and times have these spikes which are probably not that difficult to do.
We have data-sets similar to this for all days and times of the year to help us set requisite staffing levels so if you do not use us but could use this or similar insights reach out and we are happy to share the overarching patterns if it would help
PS it works even better when you plug unit numbers in to extrapolate out actual call numbers or combine with different times of years patterns of volume increase or decrease.
2 weeks today the nominations for the Property Management 50 close so please don’t forget to nominate so we can help recognise excellence in our industry.
You can nominate your peers, employees, bosses, suppliers, apprentices and overall property management legends in the following categories:
? Property Managers
? Rising Stars
? Build to Rent (a new award for 2020)
Looking forward to being one of the judges this year, joined by;
Property Management seems to be moving back into full swing and we are delighted to secure additional business from one of our clients who have moved to our 24/7 Maintenance Desk which for Block Portfolio’s includes emergencies plus all in-hours reactive and planned works.