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Wed 25 Mar 2020 10:27 AM

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Covid-19: 4 tips for communicating with residents

Whether it's another virus, a local weather disaster or something else, having a crisis communication plan in place never hurts

Covid-19: 4 tips for communicating with residents

Make a note of the different situations your team has to react to as they come up — then use those notes to create a proactive crisis plan for the future.

During chaotic times like the current Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to build and maintain trust with your residents through clear, proactive and consistent communication.

Here are four tips to help you navigate resident communications during a global health crisis:

  1. Lead with empathy

Write a message for humans, from humans. Remember, your units are your residents’ homes. Say, “Here’s what we’re doing to help keep people safe, and here’s what you can do protect your home and family.” Point them to resources in their neighborhood and reliable news sources.

Are you changing policies or augmenting services during this time? Maybe you’re adding chat tools to limit personal interactions in the leasing offices. Or implementing curbside drop off for rent checks. Whatever it is, let them know that you’re taking action to adapt to the changing environment.

  1. Emphasise online services

Remind renters of the online services you have to help limit unnecessary virus exposure. Plainly list all the ways they can pay rent or submit a maintenance request electronically. Add links where applicable. It might seem like overkill, but your long-term residents may not be aware of options that have been added since they moved in. Can they pay rent by text or using the RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa skill? Do you have a mobile app for residents that lets them communicate with your leasing or maintenance staff? Make sure they’re aware.

  1. Set expectations

Let residents know how often you plan to be in touch with them. Are you going to check in once a week? Every 48 hours? When there are new updates from local or national health organizations? Be clear, so they know what to expect.

Worried that you might be bothering them? Unless you’re emailing daily, don’t be. The 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report indicates that more than 80% of renters want to hear from their management company at least monthly in non-emergency situations.

  1. Get your message out

A well-written message is only effective if people read it. Make sure you’re reaching the people you need to communicate with by distributing your message across multiple platforms.

  • Send an email to your residents
  • Post a message in your resident portal, if you have one
  • Share an excerpt on your social channels that includes a link or phone number where they can get more information
  • Build a custom webpage on your corporate or property website with information about how you’re making things safer for prospects, residents and your team
  • Text updates to residents who have opted in to SMS communications

Apply what you learn during this time

We’re all going to learn some important lessons in the next few weeks as we work together to slow the spread of Covid-19. Make a note of the different situations your team has to react to as they come up — then use those notes to create a proactive crisis plan for the future.

A solid crisis communication plan usually includes some combination of these things:

  • Designated team members, usually from multiple teams
  • Corporate response plan including sample statements for a variety of scenarios
  • Dedicated customer service channels
  • Social media response templates
  • Multi-scenario escalation plan
  • Post-event customer outreach and feedback collection

If you want more guidance, Hubspot pulled together six crisis communication plan examples.

Whether it’s another virus, a local weather disaster or something else, having a crisis communication plan in place never hurts. The worst-case scenario is also the best-case scenario: you just might not use it.

Team Yardi is here for you. If you need help using our RENTCafé resident communication and service tools, or if you want to learn more about what’s available to you, please reach out to use at Middle-East@yardi.com or +971-04-4322679

Geneva Ives is Marketing Content Manager at Yardi Systems. 

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