If your community is managed by a strata management company, you probably have an after-hours number you can call for urgent issues. But what if you simply want to take care of day-to-day strata business? “People don’t operate in normal business hours anymore,” says Rolando Hernandez, national customer care director at FirstService Residential. “Residents and council members need to be able to take care of strata business how and when it’s convenient for them.”

Unless you’ve considered a company’s customer service capabilities at the outset, chances are the members of your strata aren’t receiving the level of phone support they need. “Your customer support centre should be able to resolve the vast majority of calls on the spot,” says Hernandez. “It’s all about the value of your time.”

To ensure that residents who call customer service get the support they need, look for a company that “answers the call” in the following 7 ways:

1. Offers 24/7 customer service Whether it’s to pay a fee, complete a work order, ask a question or download a form, you should be able to speak to a knowledgeable representative anytime of the day or night. According to Hernandez, “There should be no difference between ‘business hours’ and ‘after hours.’”

2. Strives to shorten average wait times No one wants to be kept on hold indefinitely. Find out the average amount of time residents are kept on hold. If wait times are long, see if the company is doing anything to reduce them.

3. Doesn’t outsource call centre functions Reps who are part of your management company’s staff will have a better understanding of how a strata corporation operates. Furthermore, since they are personally invested in the company, they will care more about the quality of their service. You’re also less likely to experience communication breakdowns if the call centre is based in North America rather than on the other side of the globe.

4. Has multiple call centres Having multiple call centres means that if issues arise at one of them, there is always backup. A regional outage, storm or other type of emergency, for example, won’t affect the service you receive because another centre is still available.

5. Enables non-English speakers to talk to someone in their own language Normally, if you have a problem in your building or community you can simply call your management company. However, it’s not that simple if you don’t speak English. As diverse as both the U.S. and Canada are today, it’s increasingly likely that some residents have difficulty with the language. Make sure that your management company can work with non-English speakers either through bilingual reps or interpreters.

6. Provides extensive training to its reps Have you ever experienced the frustration of speaking with a customer service representative who lacked the knowledge to resolve your issue? Even worse, has a rep ever given you information that turned out to be downright inaccurate? Avoid these problems by asking whether the management company requires reps to undergo thorough training before they can take calls and whether they also provide them with ongoing training.

7. Makes improvements based on residents’ feedback It’s important for the management company to be open to improving its phone support and to solicit feedback from the very people most affected by its service – you. Ask if it has a formal process for getting feedback, such as a yearly survey, and if it uses the information to enhance training or service.

Friday September 21, 2018