Working hand-in-hand to ensure customer satisfaction
It’s great when everything in your apartment is in working order. But what happens when your heating stops working or the shower in your bathroom suddenly goes on strike? That’s when two aspects determine whether the fault turns into a crisis for the customer: whether or not they can contact their landlord and how quickly the problem can be resolved. Thanks to effective coordination between the central customer service team and the nationwide craftsmen’s organization, Vonovia can achieve both: speed and availability
- In-house craftsmen
- In-house caretakers
- In-house specialists
The solution that Vonovia has chosen for the management of its 333,381 apartments in more than 660 cities is a logical one: a central customer service organization is the best way to ensure that customers can contact the company quickly and enjoy consistent levels of service at the same time. Vonovia’s central customer service team is based in Duisburg and Dresden and can be reached from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Emergencies can even be reported to the repairs logging team 24/7.
So far, none of this sounds particularly extraordinary for a service company. What makes Vonovia’s service so special is that customer inquiries can be answered in a number of languages, including German, English, Turkish or Arabic. Vonovia’s customers come from more than 170 different nations. When you move to a new country, one of the first things you have to do is to look for an apartment. New arrivals in Germany often lack the language skills required to master this process. This is something the company has adapted to.
The same goes for its service promise of being readily available to its customers: even a large customer service organization like Vonovia’s can experience times when all of the lines are busy. In the spring of 2016, the company set up an additional service to cover this scenario. Customers who cannot be connected to a service employee within 30 seconds can use a button on their telephone to request a callback. The customer service team then calls them back within the next 20 minutes.
Centrally managed, but simultaneously on site
The customer service employees form the hub responsible for all customer inquiries. They also log damage reports like the faulty heating system mentioned earlier on, and usually trigger the resolution process in the ticket system before the customer has even hung up.
This process is initiated using an electronic ticket system that the customer service team uses to collaborate with Vonovia’s technical service and that processes all sorts of orders, including repairs. The individual craftsmen working for the technical service are permanently connected to the company’s headquarters via their tablet. Tablets are the most important communications and information medium for Vonovia’s on-site employees, allowing them to access relevant customer data and to see the next orders to attend to during their shift. The intelligent process sequence means that any faults can be resolved especially quickly and smoothly.
»For us as craftsmen, tablets are a database, a control tool and a means of communication rolled into one.«Ulrich Hagemeier, a heating and air conditioning engineer for Vonovia’s technical service
The speed of the solution also depends on how urgent the matter is. If, for example, the temperature in an apartment falls to below 18 degrees because the heating system is down, this triggers an emergency. In cases like these, a member of the technical service team will be with the customer within a 24-hour period. If the fault cannot be resolved directly, because a spare part or similar component is missing, then the technical service team comes up with an interim solution, for example by making an electric fan heater available. In order to keep missing material problems to a minimum, Vonovia has incorporated another special feature into its processes: It restocks its craftsmen’s vans during the night so that they have the material they need for the next day’s orders.
Not just faster, but better, too
The “self-contained system” of customer support not only brings advantages in terms of speed, but also ensures better-quality results. After all, Vonovia can set – and monitor adherence to – binding service standards that apply to all of its craftsmen. This is something that simply cannot be achieved if jobs are outsourced to a large number of individual external companies. A glance at the development in customer satisfaction in recent years paints a clear picture: Vonovia’s decision to reposition itself as a service provider is paying off. And the customer feedback shows that they appreciate the change in our approach.
Two-thirds of our 7,437 employees work on-site with customers
333,381 OWN RESIDENTIAL UNITS