A prominent company in the single-family rental industry wanted help reducing the resident call volume coming into its service centers for maintenance requests. The calls were often inaccurate, which led to misdiagnosed, and often delayed, work. SMS Assist created an app aimed to empower end-users, enhance communication between residents and vendors, and streamline the overall maintenance process. Now 40 percent of maintenance requests come through the dedicated app.

Challenge

The facilities maintenance team faced a significant volume of resident calls, leading to inefficiencies and increased workload. Residents sometimes struggled to provide accurate and detailed information when creating work orders, leading to potential delays and confusion from the service providers. Residents also had limited visibility into the status of their work orders, resulting in frequent calls to check progress, causing frustration and for the facilities maintenance team. Reducing resident call volume was a necessity for the company to keep maintenance costs down and keep residents happy.

Solution

Benefits of mobile as a medium

The SMS Assist residential team created a resident-facing mobile app to address several of these pain points. The app empowered residents by allowing them to create and submit work orders themselves. It also provide user-friendly interfaces, such as capturing service details or attaching photos or videos to ensure accurate information. Prior to the app, residents had to email photos to themselves and attach them to the portal, resulting in inconvenience and potential loss of visual documentation. With the app, residents could easily take photos and even record videos, enhancing communication and improving the accuracy of work orders.

End-user visibility and empowerment

To provide more visibility into the work being done, the app enabled residents to monitor and view their work orders, reducing the need for calls to check the status of requests. By providing a timeline and push notifications, residents had increased visibility into the progress of their work orders, empowering them and reducing the reliance on direct communication with the operations team. This improvement led to increased speed, accuracy, and overall satisfaction for both residents and vendors.

Process and human-centered design

When it came to create the interface for the app, the development team adopted a human-centered design-thinking approach by considering the emotional needs and daily experiences of residents. Through interviews and feedback from residents, the team identified pain points and tailored the app's features. To address issues such as residents' uncertainty in describing maintenance problems, the team introduced service issue illustrations and descriptions to facilitate clear communication.

Support and user education

To aid users, the development team created support documentation and emails to provide clear instructions on how to use the app effectively. Additionally, QR stickers were placed on equipment, allowing residents to scan them and access the app directly. The provision of visiting cards with support email addresses during move-in further facilitated communication and support. This change management around the launch of the new app helped to see rapid adoption within the first months of use.

Outcome

The app achieved significant results, including a monthly work order creation rate of 40 percent within the first year. This helped to reduce call volume to the facilities maintenance team, which led to more capacity to address maintenance issues. Through a combination of human-centered design, iterative development, and a focus on user needs, the app successfully reduced resident call volume, improved work order accuracy, and empowered residents to actively participate in the maintenance process.

A well-functioning maintenance strategy is essential to the success of any modern-day facilities portfolio. To make sure your facilities maintenance strategy is meeting your needs, request a demo to learn more about how our programs can help you.

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