Pilot project a success in measuring the tenant experience, leading to ongoing measurement in most of our managed apartments

At the beginning of the summer in 2019, Realia Management started a pilot programme to measure the resident experience, and the last several months have proven to be an interesting learning period. Thanks to active residents and generous feedback, we have received plentiful information that is important to developing our operations. In the remainder of the year, we expanded the programme to the majority of our property-managed rental apartments.

Measuring the resident experience is part of the development of our property management services. The aim is to improve residents’ satisfaction and to reduce the resident turnover in the long term. We have reported the results to the property owners once a month during the pilot period. In future, our goal is to develop the system so that property owners can themselves see the results of the resident experience in their own property in real time.   

One might think that we were looking for trouble by providing unfiltered information on the resident experience directly to property owners. We don’t believe this to be the case–we want to foster open and trust-based cooperation, with nothing to hide.

Feedback from residents helps target development resources

We divided the resident surveys into three parts: moving in, living in the apartment, and moving out. The response rate varied slightly from one survey to the next. For example, in the tenant survey the response rate is currently around 35 per cent.

It has been great to see how actively residents have responded to the surveys. The amount of open feedback was really a pleasant surprise! During the pilot, we received open feedback from hundreds of respondents.

The results of the measurement of the resident experience and the feedback will help us to focus our development activities and resources on where they are most needed and on what is important to residents.

Learning and quick responses to feedback 

We want to react quickly to feedback. If necessary, we go through the feedback immediately with the person who gave it. We will also process all open feedback and order repair work where necessary. We will also add resources for feedback processing as we expand the measurement process to all our buildings. Residents must be made to feel that their feedback is taken into account.  

We received feedback from the survey on matters such as inadequate cleaning of apartments prior to the new tenants moving in. We contacted the residents and ordered cleaning of the apartment as early as the same day.

Tenant satisfaction an important indicator for us

In the process of expanding our tenant satisfaction surveys as a permanent part of our operations, we will also clarify the goals and key indicators for development of the tenant experience. We monitor the development of the tenant experience, for example through NPS surveys. The survey results will also be one of the metrics used by our managers. 

In the survey results, we are able to analyse the rental target level, giving us access to information on each building and housing company. The survey results also guide our discussions with our partners, for instance real estate and cleaning service providers.

The results of the population satisfaction survey are the most important “soft indicators” for measuring our success.

The importance of the resident experience and resident satisfaction in today’s rental market cannot be overemphasised. Competition for good tenants has stiffened in line with the increase in new construction and the supply of housing. Dissatisfied tenants are ready to move out at short notice, and high tenancy turnover is almost always expensive for the property owner. In the long term, our goal is to reduce tenant turnover by developing the tenant experience, which is reflected directly in the profitability for the owners of the property.

Lasse Käck  is the director of property management services for rental housing at Realia Management.