Customer Experience

Gathering independent resident feedback is vital in BTR

Gathering feedback from residents throughout their lease cycle enables issues to be resolved quickly, improves retention and provides internal and external benchmarks

Feedback is the lifeblood of Build to Rent. Gathering insight from BTR customers is the best way to engage and retain residents – and it provides information which can be used on future schemes.

There are many ways of gathering this feedback but it’s important that it is gathered independently – and it is acted upon.

Ways of gathering feedback might include:

  • Questionnaires at the start, mid-term and exit
  • Maintenance surveys
  • Resident forums
  • Focus groups
  • Mystery shopping

These could be done electronically, via an app, with a smart speaker, text message or through email. However, these methods should be complemented with face-to-face interactions or telephone interviews. Direct engagement, preferably carried out independently, is the best way to build trust and gain the most valuable feedback.

What sort of questions should be included?

Questionnaires compiled by RealService, in partnership with a client, can cover issues ranging from the provision of amenities and their quality or cleanliness (lifts, reception areas, gardens, parking) to the quality of relationships with building managers, other staff or landlords (communication, responsiveness, ease of leasing/maintenance processes, likelihood of lease renewal).

It’s best to work on a questionnaire which is future-proofed so you can compare results and improvements year on year, while also including relevant additions like, for example questions around Covid response.

A five-point Likert Scale – excellent, good, average, poor, really poor – will provide nuance but it’s important to get qualitative information as well as data. Email or text surveys can provide some detail, but a telephone interview or focus group is the best way of asking “why?” or “how can we improve?”

Questionnaires should include the Net Promoter Score (NPS).


On a scale of 0-10, would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?

This is the question: “On a scale of 0-10, would you recommend us to a friend or colleague?” and its follow-up: “Why / Why not?” The NPS is used by just about every sector outside the property industry, but is now being taken up by forward-thinking companies within it.

For a Build to Rent operator it would seem vital to know if current residents would recommend your scheme, and to be able to compare your scores between schemes.

A high level of customer satisfaction – especially if this has been evaluated independently – would also be extremely good news for an investor.

How should feedback be collected?

Collecting feedback needs to be done in a systematic way, within a customer experience strategy.

Following a cruise, I was once asked to complete a 40-page internet survey which questioned every element of the holiday in minute detail. It landed in my inbox the moment I stepped ashore and took the gloss off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Please don’t ask your participants to work so hard! Providing feedback should not be so onerous. It should be simple and engaging and framed in a way that the participant believes their views are valued.

And, don’t be afraid of the answers. There is no point asking questions which will provide only a positive response. You will learn nothing and other operators – who react positively to negative feedback and make improvements – will ultimately overtake you.

How should you start?

At RealService we often recommend starting the feedback process with a mixture of email surveys and telephone interviews. This allows everyone the chance to have their say while incorporating a ‘deep-dive’ approach via a telephone call, scheduled at the convenience of the respondent and facilitated by an experience interviewer.

This approach provides the investor/operator with a baseline view of all the core resident experiences. From there comes an action plan and then follow-up studies to measure improvement.

No scheme is the same, and the approach to gathering feedback should be bespoke. For example, RealService clients have asked us to:

  • Gather feedback at key points in a tenancy
  • Carry out mystery shopping exercises to better train letting agents or improve enquiry/letting conversion rates
  • Run focus groups
  • Undertake Voice of Customer research

Gathering and acting on resident insight is how the Build to Rent industry will future-proof its products and continue to be relevant to investors and customers alike.


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