6
Oct
2008
0

It’s Not About the Money – Guest Post by Eric Brown

Today we have a guest blogger, Eric Brown, Founder and Owner of Urbane Apartments.  His unique approach to Underground Marketing and Property Management, focusing on the Residents Experience, has helped Urbane Apartments achieve some of the highest rents per square foot and per unit in the Royal Oak, Michigan area where they are located.  In this guest post, he shares some of his fascinating perspectives on brand and customer experience, as well as some of his company’s innovative ideas.

 

Does Money, Luxury, or Value Create a Remarkable Customer Experience?  What are the key ingredients of a Remarkable Customer Experience?

Remarkable, as defined by the legend Seth Godin:

  • Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it?
  • Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.

Is the experience you are creating for your customer remarkable, and does your customer find value in the experience created? Are you matching your Brand to a Targeted Experience? As posted by one of Becky’s readers,

Service excellence, just as with beauty, is in the eye of the beholder”

This is spot on. Take some time to evaluate what will Engage and Delight your customer based on your Brand. We were at the local Mini Cooper dealership and they openly invite customers to bring in their beloved pets to the dealership, which some folks get really excited about. It works for Mini Cooper, but you likely would not find that at the Jaguar showroom. Mini Cooper is matching a Customer Experience to their Brand; this example has no correlation to Luxury and doesn’t get better by adding more Money.  Southwest Airlines, you either love them or hate them with the cattle call lines, no assigned seats, no frills. Yet true Southwest Customers like, enjoy, laugh with, and  have a favorable experience with, Southwest. Herb Kelleher somehow figured out how to deliver a consistent, value driven experience and permitted his employees to fix it when it wasn’t.

We own and manage a small boutique apartment management company Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, MI and have used some innovative ideas to create Remarkable Experiences for our Residents that align to our Brand. Here are some Case Studies:

  • We do not send out paper leases. The lease, a floor plan, emergency numbers and some unit pictures are given to the resident at Move In on a thumb drive, which is also a key chain with our logo on it. Being able to walk away with all of the lease information on a tiny thumb drive that fits in their pocket and that they can also use to store additional information has created a “Cool Factor”, something worth talking about. This idea may not bode well if we were in the senior housing business, but it does resonate well with our target demographic.
  • We have embraced Urbane Loves Pets, no extra fees, no breed restrictions, no size requirements. Our theory is that if we have great residents, they likely have great pets. And while there are certainly problems that occur from time to time, we own the segment pet market locally by creating a favorable experience for our “Pet Lover Residents”.
  • Urbane created the “Freedom Lease” which affords maximum flexibility on lease terms for our residents. Lots of folks out there are consultants today, and the standard year lease did not fit this paradigm shift. We have fostered a living arrangement that works to address the residents’ needs, our needs, and allows flexibility, which evokes a better experience than figuring out how to break a lease when circumstances change.

What experience you are creating for your customer? Let us know your thoughts and stories here at Customers Rock!

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16 Responses

  1. This really hit the nail on the head. I currently work for a web hosting company that is very customer service orientated. We strive to be very friendly responsive and take ownership with our customers instead of doing things like passing them off often or only corresponding to them by email.

    However, some people because of the service we offer will make the mistake of assuming that we are a small company which can turn them off. Service excellence truly is in the eye of the beholder

    Brandon M.

  2. Becky Carroll

    Creating a great customer service experience can be done by companies both large and small, but isn’t it funny how one assumes that only small companies are actually doing it? Thanks for sharing, Brandon!

  3. Brandon, Thanks for the comment and stopping by,
    You bring up an excellent comment about size and perception. We are a little fry company, although we have (14) properties in a consolidated geographical location, and we Act as If we are larger, we still only have a total of (325) units, HOWEVER, the effective use of Social Media has allowed us to compete, and surpass our larger competitors who have significantly more resources and sheer size. The absolute about Social Media, is it is NOT about the number of followers, it is about the Quality of Followers. Although this post is directed at Customer Service, we have utilized the avenue of Social Media to reach that medium.

  4. Great ideas. Question about the Urbane Loves Pets. As a property manager, how did you deal with the owner and the fact that even a small dog puts about 15 pounds worth of urine in the carpet per year? Are you saying that the Urban Loves Pets marketing helped you increase the rent enough to offset having to rip out the carpet and padding and replace after every move out? Thanks.

  5. It is about the money – but the golden rule is that money make money and happy customers are usually ready to pay more. Extra effort and time spent to make your customers satified will add great value to your brand/service quality.

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