One of our core values is Duty of Care — where we consistently go the extra mile for our residents, ensuring they have the most positive experience possible while they call one of our suites home. This value continues to guide our actions, keeping our residents front and center of all our operations.
Avenue Living’s Call Centre embodies this value each and every day, providing timely, quality service. Given this, it is no surprise that our Call Centre has become a key focus and industry differentiator for us. Some highlights we are extremely proud of include our service level, percentage of calls handled and average wait time, which have greatly exceeded industry standards. Although our service level states that we will answer 85% of all calls within 60 seconds, over the last six months, our service level on average has been at 98.8%. Over the same period, we have maintained a call-answer rate of 96.9% with an average hold time of only 29 seconds.
We understand that life happens every day, and that our residents have needs, every day. That’s why it is important for us to be available to our residents seven days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
We have a next-day callback standard for any resident inquiries, and a standard of 72-hour turnaround time for maintenance requests. We manage to consistently beat this, with an actual average of 47.5 hours, thanks to our dedicated team of maintenance staff who execute maintenance requests to ensure our residents are comfortable and secure. Furthermore, our outstanding work orders as a per cent of overall units remained below Avenue Living’s 3 per cent target. After all, we are in the business of investing in the everyday, and we do not take this responsibility lightly.
“We demonstrate our Duty of Care value in many different ways with our existing residents. We are available to our residents via live chat, email as well as phone. We’ve made it easier for residents to connect with us,” said Jon Enslen, Resident Experience Manager for Avenue Living Communities.
“We’re working on a new system that’s also going to allow us to exchange text messages with current residents as well as prospects. The system will also work with other platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook. It’s going to have it in one central place with the capability to distribute the request to the next available agent. A true omnichannel solution.”
Enslen’s primary responsibility is managing the Call Centre with a team of about 30 people who are referred to as Resident Experience Specialists, and he is very proud of his team and the responsibility they hold.
“We serve a dual purpose in that we are the first line of defence for any current residents, who call for any number of reasons. Whether it’s a question about their tenancy, an issue regarding their rent or rent payments, or a leaky tap, we’re their first point of contact most of the time and do what we can to resolve those issues without having to go outside our Centre,” said Enslen. “Our primary function is to offer a first-call resolution to that resident. We want to make it a very positive experience.”
The Call Centre also deals with prospective residents, who may have reached out to Avenue Living through the live chat on the website, or called the company via the number on the website or in an ad.
“Our job is to match them with what they’re looking for with our current vacancies. We always want to be able to find an alternative for them even if we don’t have a vacancy in the particular building they’re interested in.”
Serving 25,000 Residents
The Call Centre serves the more than 10,000 residential rental properties owned by Avenue Living in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
On any given month, Enslen said the Call Centre will handle about 5,000 phone calls and 8,000 to 10,000 emails from existing residents and prospects. There are also about 700 to 900 live chats per month.
We have invested in technology that helps us respond to resident inquiries almost instantly. Clark the chatbot joined the team in 2020, and he has allowed us to reduce our average live chat response time to 4 seconds by booking viewings, answering frequently asked questions and responding to the 700 to 900 live chats we receive a month. Clark answers FAQs with ease, allowing our team to focus on the more complex inquiries.
Response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Call Centre to adapt very quickly. Prior to COVID, operations were mostly in the office with people working side by side. Because of the pandemic, the Call Centre immediately went into a remote work environment for three months.
“That paved the way for what we’re thinking about today. It forced us to adapt a little bit and leverage even more so, the beauty of technology. The reality is, with a phone and a reliable wireless connection, we can access pretty much everything we need to serve our residents. For the most part, the majority of our residents and prospects really had no idea we were working from home because it really was seamless,” explained Enslen.
“There was very little impact on our overall performance. One of the things we measure in Call Centre is average handle times. How long does it take to answer an email? How long does it take to answer a phone call? How long does it take to be available to take the next phone call? There was very minimal impact to our handle times when we first moved everybody home. The team passed that test fantastically. Super thrilled with the job they’ve done.”
Despite COVID-19 and the negative effects it has had across every aspect of life, Avenue Living continues with business as usual. The deliberate actions were taken at the start of the pandemic and maintained as part of our core value of “Duty of Care” ensured there was no operational effect. Our residents’ needs are at the front and center of all our operations, and we will continue to prioritize these, and ensure our resident’s needs are met with utmost care and attention.
This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at www.avenuelivingam.com for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.