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Being a people-heavy operation becomes a roadblock in times of crisis, as the sector lacks the tools to digitally deliver customer excellence. But the industry recognises the need to invest in functional, transparent and customisable digital operations that keep teams vertically aligned.

BTR operators need to urgently mitigate the negative revenue impact of Covid-19, which Houzen estimates could be between 16% and 33% per month. One way they can do this is by leveraging online tools and assembling a digital operating environment.

Good organisation and fast communication will be key in the coming months, so teams should test communication platforms and see what best suits their customers and team. A few are using Slack and Microsoft Teams for internal communication and HubSpot for customer management.

It is possible to switch to a fully digital operating platform, but a seamless infrastructure is needed for success; otherwise, staff don’t adopt it and the whole change management process falls apart.

A fully digitalised operation allows for efficient remote working while delivering high-quality (video) viewings without the customer realising any difference from an otherwise offline interaction.

Portals are reporting a drop of 30% to 60% in demand globally. New digital leasing channels should be trialled to increase conversion rates and ROI, reducing the need for offline touchpoints.

The key is to not spend more, but use customer insight and marketing more efficiently. Marketers should use the right keywords to communicate a clear product differentiation and attract the right tenants. Most data and customer knowledge sits in an operator’s inbox; there could be an attempt to use that first and automate the results to create marketing that doesn’t target everyone, just right-fit customers. High-quality leads keep conversion rates high and reduce ops involvement.

Isabelle Li, business analyst, Houzen