“Thanks, but I won’t return your call.”
This message essentially sums up this article that was recently featured in the Baltimore Sun. What the author is trying to tell you is what will happen if you leave her a voicemail message. The article’s author is a millennial. And as a millennial, just like every previous generation, she has a different way of looking at the world and a different way of working in it.
For many millennials, voicemail is just something that should go away. And, in fact, voicemail does seem to be going away. Just recently JP Morgan stated they were going to start doing away with their voicemail systems because “hardly anyone uses voicemail anymore.”
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A Shift in Communication
I have noticed this shift with our younger applicants and tenants for some time now. When they call, they will not leave a voicemail. When you call them back and leave them a voicemail, they will not listen to it, even if the voicemail contains instructions or answers to their questions. Voicemail is just not something they will deal with.
Why? I think mainly because they feel that the response is not quick enough. This is, after all, the generation that mastered texting. Why leave a voicemail when I can just text or email instead and usually get an instant answer?
To us older non-millennials, this trait can be really frustrating. Voicemail is still a great thing to us. We can remember when we did not have voicemail, much less a phone computer that we all carry in our pocket. We can remember when, if the person we were trying to call was not at home near their landline, you simply could not get in touch with them. We can even remember phone numbers from decades ago because we used them so much. How many phone numbers can you remember today?
Despite our potential dislike of this millennial trait regarding voicemail, I think it is something that we are going to have to get used to and deal with. Millennials are one of the largest customer bases we landlords have. And research tends to demonstrate that this trend will continue, as millennials are poised to be renters rather than homeowners.
If we as landlords want to successfully attract this group of young, up-and-coming tenants, we are going to have to keep up with the changing times and the changing technology and give our customers what they want, which is a different way to communicate.
So should you ditch your voicemail system like JP Morgan? No, I do not think so… not yet, anyway. It still serves a vital purpose to us, and many folks still use it. But you need to provide alternatives that will allow your millennial customers to communicate with you. Here are a couple of things you should consider.
How to Appeal to Millennial Customers
Have a presence on the web.
Build a website for your company, no matter how small. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to do these days. On that website, have a place for people to send you an email, and have that email sent directly to your phone so you can respond quickly.
As stated earlier, millennials expect a quick response, and if you do not provide it, someone else will. I know you may think it ridiculous to be at their beck and call, but that is what customer satisfaction is all about.
Have a place for tenants to contact you by email.
Many simply do not want the hassle of calling you and leaving a message, and do you really want to talk to them anyway? Communicate by email.
Take and accept text messages, especially with your current tenants.
Seems simple, but I know some folks who still resist texting. Stop resisting! Texting is quick and easy. A simple and quick response is usually all that is needed from you. Even if you just have to say, “I will call you shortly.”
Millennials out there, please help us landlords out, too. We realize you might not like voicemails, but if you are searching for apartments, you might want to give them a listen. After all, we are busy, and sometimes we cannot get back to you right away. If you will not listen to voicemails, please record a message on your voicemail greeting letting us know how to communicate with you. We are pretty good at following instructions, and if you ask us to email of text you, we can do it. If not, how else do we know how to contact you?
Trends will never stop changing, no matter how frustrating that may be to us. As a landlord, part of our job is customer service and responding to these trends, not resisting them. After all, you may just find out that you hate voicemail, too. And the funny thing is, millennials will likely one day in the future be writing a similar article about the next generation because they will not text them back.
Do you still use voicemail or are you getting farther and farther away from it? How do you communicate with potential customers and current tenants?
Please share with your comments.