I recently mystery shopped a community that was clearly understaffed on the day of my visit. Upon my arrival at the leasing office there were several people waiting to be helped and I could see that there was only one agent in the office at that time. Although I had arrived on-time for my scheduled appointment, it became evident that I might have to wait for a bit. I made my presence known to the busy leasing professional and then wandered out to the clubhouse to have a seat where others appeared to be waiting as well.
After just a few minutes I concluded that I was amongst current residents of the community. Because there was quite a bit of conversation going on, I had determined that one of the couples waiting was there to renew their lease while the other group of people were current residents who were hoping to transfer to a larger apartment within the community.
One of the residents caught my attention and asked me if I was new at the community. I politely let them know that I was looking around the area at apartments that afternoon and that I was there to see a one bedroom. A conversation began almost instantly and within just a few minutes I was having an enjoyable conversation with both groups of people.
So much can be learned about the living experience at an apartment community when the residents so openly share their experiences with a total stranger! It only took a few minutes to learn that these people truly enjoyed living there (which was also evident by their willingness to sign a new lease and to upgrade to a larger apartment at the same community). Both groups of people introduced themselves to me and told me how much I would love living there.
As residents of the community for more than two years, each person shared positive living experiences such as how smoothly their move-in was, how responsive the management team has always been to their requests, how friendly the people who lived there were and how much fun they have at the resident functions that the office staff organizes each month. Even though both groups of residents had been waiting longer than I had, they were patient and understanding and praised the leasing consultant on duty that day for her ability to handle everyone professionally and in a friendly, courteous manner. I had not even viewed an apartment yet and I was thoroughly impressed by what I had learned so far!
When the leasing professional returned to the office she immediately came out to acknowledge all of us and thanked us for waiting. Although the residents urged her to assist me first, I graciously thanked them and told them how much I appreciated meeting them and then insisted that I would happily wait my turn. Although I was ‘technically’ not looking for an apartment, as a mystery shopper I can honestly say that I was convinced this would be a great place to call home. I was made to feel welcome by potential future neighbors and I was lucky enough to get a solid picture of what life was like at that community by people who willingly offered their transparent and objective feedback.
A customer experience like the one I had that day does not come often, but when it does ~ it makes sense to pay it forward. Friends and colleagues often come to me for input on where they should look for apartments and I always recommend that community to them based on my initial experience as a mystery shopper. It was the residents who truly sold me on the community that day ~ something that I’m sure every manager and management company would be proud of. If they were willing to so readily recommend that I become a new resident, they were also likely candidates to write very favorable online apartment reviews of the staff and community.
Has anything like this ever happened to you on a mystery shop? I’d love to hear your story!