Letting agencies can reduce the number of complaints about the industry and improve their own customer service and relationships by improving communication and record keeping.
That’s the view of leading PropTech advocate Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer to automated payment platform PayProp.
He cites the most recent annual report from The Property Ombudsman, published last month, which shows that poor record-keeping and client communication was the top cause of complaints made against letting agencies in 2018.
He says it is a “chronic and increasing concern” after being the second-most frequent lettings complaint in 2017, 2016 and 2015, and with communications failure a prominent reason for complaints each year right back to 2011.
"Communication in particular, as well as record keeping, have for the last eight years been a common cause of consumer complaints against agents" says Cobbold.
"More worryingly, the problem has worsened since 2015, which means the time has come for the industry to think more carefully about improving communication and record keeping across the board."
He claims this problem could be reduced if agents adopted modern methods of communication to get the best results and keep their clients up to date more efficiently.
"These days, consumers send and expect to receive much of their communications via their smartphones, often outside of traditional working hours. The best agencies all step up to meet these needs, providing digital-friendly information that is easy for people to access every step of the way” he says.
"Of course, the personal element of the lettings process remains hugely important so agents still need to be available for calls and face-to-face meetings where possible.”
The PayProp chief believes more PropTech would also reduce problems caused by human error.
"Being able to see the live status of a portfolio with all the correct and up to date information can help agents to easily provide their clients with a full summary of what is going on, as well as greater visibility. This can help landlords and agents to stay on top of all issues and take the necessary steps to manage the tenancy accordingly" he adds.
"For example, automating the appropriate functionality can improve record-keeping and save time, allowing them to focus on improving communications and providing a first-class, personal service.”