Few sectors have seen such an explosion in their approach to customer service as the build to rent (BTR) sector over the past year. These developments are rapidly leaving private landlords in their dust in terms of what they offer to tenants. So why has customer service suddenly become so important to the rental sector?
The changing shape of the UK’s housing sector is one key reason for this. People are renting for longer – nearly a quarter of Tipi’s residents are over the age of 40. Many are also renting for the freedom and flexibility it offers, rather than simply as a stopgap until they are able to buy a home. This has pushed renters to become more discerning – they want to choose a home not based solely on the accommodation itself, but also the amenities that it comes with. Increasingly, the level of service delivered by the landlord is an influential factor in the decision to rent. This will become even more business-critical when the build to rent sector is in steady state. Impressive amenities may win over a number of new customers but the quality of customer service experienced by renters will be one of the leading influences on choosing a place to live – and stay.
As a build to rent owner/operator in London, Tipi (a wholly owned subsidiary of developer Quintain), recognises the necessity of ensuring that the service it delivers to residents in its 550 homes is second to none. This commitment to customer service is enshrined in Tipi’s guiding principles – trust, integrity, people and innovation. The company puts careful thought into how these principles translate into service delivery, particularly now as they look to open a further 750 homes in 2019.
Tipi has done a huge amount to establish itself as a highly trustworthy landlord. Any commitments that are made to residents are carried through in the manner pledged and to agreed timescales. In many ways, the trust and innovation values blend together. This has led to Tipi offering residents lease agreements of up to three years with no deposits or fees, as well as superb new apartments that welcome pets.
Another example is the company’s innovative partnerships with John Lewis and Samsung – Tipi has ensured that its partner support teams provide a seamless aftercare service, where even the call centre staff have been trained to understand the Tipi core values and guiding principles. Tipi has carefully selected each item of furniture from the extensive John Lewis & Partners range with the customer firmly in mind. The team works really hard to ensure that Tipi’s partners align with the company’s way of thinking, so that the residents ultimately benefit from the service being provided.
The commitment to integrity benefits all those involved in Tipi’s service delivery, from staff to residents. The Tipi team’s provision of genuine empathy and accountability if something goes wrong, accompanied by a sincere willingness to put things right, builds a strong foundation for the way that Tipi operates. It’s about more than correcting a problem – it’s about empathising with how the issue has made the resident feel and what can be done to ensure that they feel happier.
Tipi, has just opened its latest building – Landsby – which offers a superb level of customer service. This accompanies the brand new homes and shared social spaces supported by a 24-hour concierge team, who have a natural desire to provide immediate assistance to residents whenever required (a service which you wouldn’t typically find with a private buy to let landlord). One of Tipi’s residents, Aygul Zagidullina, recently summed it up succinctly:
“Life at Tipi makes everything so easy! It reduces the stress of city life in so many ways. I love how stylish and spacious the apartments are. The customer service is absolutely superb – last week the bulb went in my oven and it was fixed within the hour. I don’t think you would find that level of service anywhere else.”
Ensuring that residents feel valued, cared for and respected is part of Tipi’s “people” value. The team works hard to ensure that every resident receives a superior service – so much so that it has become a core part of the Tipi brand. Without question, customer service is here to stay in the rental sector – and Tipi is leading the way.
Russell Markou, is Head of Operations of lifestyle-led rental brand Tipi. With a background in hospitality operations, Russell is very well aware of the impact that great (and not so great) customer service can have. He has made it his mission to exceed hospitality sector levels of customer service to Tipi’s residents.