The short answer is, “Yes!” In the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) industry, having a less than satisfactory relationship with your clients or tenants can directly affect your occupancy or overall NOI.

One bad interaction with a tenant can lead to not only losing their business, but it also can lead them to posting negative reviews that scare off future residents.

Checking a company’s reviews online is a way of life now. In fact, checking reviews is standard practice before ever stepping foot in an apartment complex or hotel, for example.

Do you live or stay somewhere that had bad online reviews?

The answer is likely a resounding “No.”

Using customer service as the driving force for how you do business internally and externally can propel companies forward. As it relates to CRE, having a quick response to an email (or phone call, text or IM) can affect your occupancy.

Your Response Time Can Win (or Lose) You New Business

Customer service is an integral part of word of mouth marketing.

And word of mouth marketing plays into what we think of brands and how loyal we are to them, just as much as our firsthand, personal interactions. How quickly you get back to someone absolutely plays into his or her perception of your company as a whole.

People just want to be heard, helped and to feel their voice is important. We all want to be respected. It’s that simple. So every interaction matters.

A broker friend of mine, Casey, told me a story that really stuck with me. She had a prospect reach out about a longtime commercial tenant who was moving out of his building in a rural town. His building was old, in bad shape and in an active floodplain. This prospect came across Casey’s information while doing a simple Google search of industrial brokers in NE Indiana.

The prospect informed my friend right out of the gate that if she didn’t get back to him within 24 hours, he was going to contact the next broker on his list. As it’s her way of doing business, she responded immediately after she read the email (even though I would guess she had several other things on her to do list for that day).

Their interactions went on for several months while they searched for a new tenant and weighed out options. Casey’s client acknowledged and appreciated the fact that she was always swift to respond.

Time was money for him too, and any time wasted on waiting for a response meant his building could be empty for longer. He was a client for years and referred several prospects to her. I’d like to think her timely responses helped him fill his building faster, thus directly affecting his occupancy.

Top 4 Rules for Easily Integrating Customer Service into Your Company Culture

As a marketing professional who has worked with many multi-family and CRE companies, I’ve seen firsthand how customer, prospect and any other business relationships can make or break a company.

The follow are four tips we use to help our clients incorporate and automate customer service best practices into their routines.

1. Always get back to the person contacting you within 24 hours – 48 hours at the very longest.

Responding to an email, even just to let someone know you have heard their request, understand what they’re looking for and will get back with them as soon as possible, only takes a minute or two.

If you prioritize it, you can find time during your workweek. Communication is key and keeping someone updated and informed truly doesn’t take that much time, even if you don’t necessarily have anything new to tell them.

2. Responsive customer service doesn’t end once you’ve landed a tenant.

Continued customer service throughout a business or client relationship is critical. Tenants, for example, won’t hesitate to find a new home if their living experience doesn’t match up with what you initially sold them.

If you keep prospects in mind, you never know when additional business could come up many months or even years down the road.

3. Spend the first ten minutes of your day responding to and following up with people.

Do some follow-ups every day and make it a habit. People will appreciate you touching base and doing so first thing makes it seem as if they are at the top of your days priority list – because they are. Treat your email inbox as a to do list.

4. Educate your staff on these practices and the importance of them.

Help your property managers and entire team make customer service best practices daily habits. Further empower staff to create template scripts that could be easily dropped into the body of an initial response email to save time.

Have a system in place to track how and when your staff followed up and hold people accountable if they don’t follow the procedures.

Developing habits for good communication and responsive service will help you win – and perhaps more importantly, keep – business. People remember those that make them feel respected and heard and are more likely to spread the word about their positive interactions.

Most importantly, it makes people want to do business with you. And this directly impacts your bottom line.