How Visual Assistance Supports Property Management Homeowners and Transforms Tenant Journeys

tenant experience

The global housing management industry is thriving and expected to grow from $15.10 billion in 2021 to $28.21 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 9.3% for the forecast period. There are more than 300,000 property management companies in the US alone. And these companies have their hands full keeping their residential units in top shape. According to industry statistics, 80% of property managers say that maintenance and repair are the most common housing management services provided, and more than 45% express a desire to improve efficiency when providing these property management solutions.

Moreover, right across the housing sector, tenants aren’t just seen as renters anymore – they are now considered clients. They want to communicate on their preferred channels, receiving personalized content and proactive services. This tenant-first philosophy applies to both the private and public housing sector and requires the creation of a new kind of digital tenant experience – everything from live chat and online knowledge resources to self-service portals.

The housing management industry is in need of technology to improve operational efficiencies and streamline maintenance and repair processes, in addition to delivering a personalized service in line with tenants’ expectations and evolving needs. Ensuring that necessary tasks can be completed in a timely manner even when workers cannot come on site as often as in the past is the key to providing positive homeowner or tenant experiences.

Watch this webinar co-hosted by Salesforce and TechSee, featuring leading housing association LiveWest to learn about how to use visual assistance for smart homes

4 Core Challenges in Property Management

Operational Costs

Repair and maintenance costs already account for an eighth of annual rental income, and those costs are rising fast – by almost 8% year on year. But why is that?

  • Firstly, follow-up dispatch rates are at around 25% and rising.
  • Second is the high cost of ‘No Fault Found’ dispatches – all those needless dispatches that could have been resolved without a home visit.
  • Call volume is a critical kpi in customer service. The extra workload on agents, many working from home, is creating large case backlogs that are more expensive to resolve the longer they are left.
  • Evolving Health & Safety thresholds​ are much higher too and ensuring ongoing compliance represents a huge cost implication.

The Visual Gap

When the tenant has an issue, they call customer service. The trouble is, they’re looking at equipment they can barely describe, while on the other end of the line, the agent is looking at a CRM. They’re flying blind.

They begin a long, frustrating dialogue that creates high customer effort, a poor tenant experience and high labor intensity. It also pushes up costs due to unnecessary dispatches and repeat calls.

The Knowledge Gap

The second main challenge is the knowledge gap – the difficulty of accessing the right information in the field. With a growing dependency on junior and outsourced workers, this is a critical problem that causes longer site visits and more follow-up visits.

  • Engineers often struggle to find the right information from textual knowledge bases in the field. The last thing they want to do is read a complex article, especially if they’re using a small screen.
  • There’s also the pressure placed on remote experts and supervisors with so many inexperienced engineers reaching out for advice. That leads to workflow bottlenecks and delayed service completion
  • Then there’s the problem of identifying engineers who’ve experienced the same issue affecting the same equipment before.

Siloed Systems

The third challenge is segregation between departments who work often with different systems.

That causes serious inconsistencies in how they communicate with tenants, leading to poor customer experience. Organizations often struggle to get a 360 degree view of each household, which makes effective, one-to-one communication with each resident difficult and leads to inconsistent interactions. Employees in different departments need to deliver personalized and consistent messaging by having the same data at their fingertips.

Visual Assistance as a Property Management Solution

The emerging multiexperience philosophy is all about developing effortless, multi-sensory employee and tenant experience across a range of voice, video and text modalities, apps, and other digital touchpoints, regardless of the channel. A key element of this approach is visual assistance.

Visual assistance is a technology powered by Computer Vision AI and Augmented Reality (AR) that empowers property maintenance representatives to see exactly what the homeowners or tenants see, guiding them over their mobile screens to repair issues without requiring a home visit. For example, a tenant whose pilot light is out on his boiler can point his smartphone at the assembly valve, and receive interactive step-by-step guidance by an agent or technician to help restart the boiler without waiting in the cold for a technician to visit. Or, a property maintenance provider fielding a call from a homeowner about a malfunctioning security system can use live visual assistance to remotely assess whether a tech dispatch is necessary or if the homeowner can be walked through the fix.

A contact center agent or remote expert can set up a live video stream with the tenant in order to inspect the issue and provide on-screen augmented reality guidance, showing the steps that need to be taken to resolve it.

How Visual Assistance Supports Property Management Homeowners

House property management teams that have adopted visual assistance as their first line of service for their maintenance and repair needs have realized multiple benefits from the technology.

Faster Resolution

Visual assistance allows a technician to guide the homeowner or tenant from a remote location for easy fixes, or use AR to provide visual instructions in more complicated cases. When vision is used for a pre-visit inspection, the technician can see the issue before dispatch and come prepared for the job, which raises the FTF rates, and shortens the time spent on site. If the technician needs assistance, he can transmit video and images from the field while consulting with a remote expert, eliminating the need for a repeat visit.

Self-Service

Visual assistance can provide real-time device recognition and AR-based guidance for troubleshooting. For example, a visual assistant can recognize LED lights and error messages on appliances such as boilers, and auto-guide the homeowner or tenant to the resolution, enabling them to be significantly more self-sufficient when it comes to home repairs.

Significant Time Savings and Convenience

Visual assistance can spare homeowners and tenants wasted time and inconvenience of waiting around for technicians or property maintenance representatives. For standard procedures, such as damage inspection before a property exit, homeowners or tenants can be guided through the process of capturing images and videos of the maintenance or repair issue directly from their smartphone camera, without having to contact a company agent. This allows for the possibility of remote landlord property management, a much more convenient approach when it comes to house management. For example, instead of a property manager traveling to assess an issue with mold or damp, visual assistance allows the homeowner or tenant to capture visuals of any damage via an enhanced self-service process.

Promotes Safety and Reduces Carbon Footprint

Delivering a contactless service to ensure safety of homeowners, tenants, and housing management employees is still critical even in the post-pandemic era. Visual assistance is a remote-first technology that allows property maintenance companies to avoid as many in-person technician visits as possible. In addition, reducing the need to dispatch trucks results in a significant reduction of an organization’s carbon footprint and makes a positive environmental impact.

How Visual Assistance Personalizes Your Tenants’ Experience

Case prioritization

When organizations have huge backlogs of cases to deal with, they need to work out which ones to deal with first. And it’s not just about tenant experience – it’s also about safety. If there’s a gas leak, for example, an agent or technician can expedite the dispatch. In the meantime, he can also provide visual instructions showing the tenant how to turn off the gas supply.

Of course, most issues aren’t as critical as that, but there are still thousands of potential dispatches that need confirmation or rejection. Everyone wants to avoid those No Fault Found visits.

Next Issue Avoidance

NIA is a vital part of the picture when it comes to better tenant experience and cutting operational costs. If an agent is guiding a customer through a simple boiler reset, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at the pipework. If he spots rust, he can then authorize a visit to replace the pipe, before the issue turns into a major problem. That’s a major win-win.

Contracting and billing

Tenants often require line-by-line explanations of paper bills and guidance on completing forms. This notoriously time-consuming process can be streamlined using remote support solutions such as visual assistance and screen sharing.

Safety Protocols

In the new normal, tenants are naturally wary about home visits. Engineers can prove that they’re complying with safety protocols, whether regular requirements related to electricity and gas or recording their own temperatures and wearing the required PPE. They simply upload a picture and log it to the case in the FSM.

Onsite Engineer Support

Site visits don’t always go according to plan. Newly qualified engineers, for example, often need a helping hand once they arrive. So how do they get the support they need?

The answer is through live consultation with a remote expert, supervisor or a colleague. The field engineer initiates a visual session to show the issue and receive visual guidance, in order to shorten the visit and avoid a repeat dispatch.

The engineer arrives on site, opens the case on his FSM app and connects to a remote expert for guidance, directly from the case. This activates a VoIP call and the back camera on his phone or tablet, allowing the expert to inspect the equipment over a live video stream, identify the issue, and guide the engineer, using on-screen AR annotations to show him what needs to be done. In cases where the engineer has no internet, he can work offline and upload the visuals later for remote expert verification. The work can also be verified remotely. When a remote expert confirms that the issue is resolved, the organization knows it’s achieved a first time fix and avoided a costly follow-up visit.

Property Management Solutions Using Visual Assistance

Property managers can utilize visual assistance for various kinds of properties and use cases.

Property TypeUse Case
Rental property managementRemote repairs
Commercial property managementRemotely check site maps using AR holography technology
Realty property managementAR home walkthrough
Residential property managementDigital Twin
Vacation rental property managementAI powered chatbot for commonly asked questions
Social housing property managementVisual inspection of property before an end-of-tenancy exit

Evolve With Your Tenants’ Expectations

As customer expectations change, property management organizations that embrace technology will be best positioned to provide excellent customer service. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have opened many paths to growth in the industry and are driving digital transformation in housing management companies. According to the Housing Technology Guide to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, artificial intelligence and machine learning have transitioned from new, niche technologies used by only a handful of forward-thinking property maintenance providers to becoming much more widespread within the housing industry.

Remote visual assistance technology enables property management companies and enterprises around the world to deliver better customer assistance, enhance service quality and reduce costs. If you would like to enable homeowners and tenants to be more self-sufficient while enhancing their satisfaction with your First Time Fix rates, reduce carbon emissions from less technician dispatches, promote safety via contactless service, and lower operational costs, request a demo.

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Daniela Levi, Director of Product Marketing
With years of product marketing experience in the high tech world, Daniela Levi brings enthusiasm for new product GTM strategy, content strategy and the lead nurture process. She is currently leading TechSee's product marketing team.

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