May 13, 2020
AVENUE LIVING CALL CENTRE DOESN'T SKIP A BEAT DESPITE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
Being nimble and seeking innovative ways to be efficient during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key initiative for the Call Centre and Internal Sales teams at Avenue Living Communities. The goal throughout the crisis has been to continue delivering a quality experience for the company's 20,000 residents across the Prairies, and those wishing to call an Avenue Living property 'home'.
"We have transitioned from being a business that relied on many of our processes involving face-to-face interactions to having virtual options available for our customers. We've done a great job adapting along the way, from booking virtual viewings to sending leases and renewals electronically," said Megan Coyle, Director of Resident Experience at Avenue Living.
Coyle oversees the Call Centre and the Internal Sales team, two of the teams at head office that directly impact prospective and current residents. The Call Centre fields calls, chats, and emails from people who are interested in renting with Avenue Living. The Internal Sales team supports the field with sales functions. From approving applications, to sending out renewals - they are a pivotal part of the entire sales process.
The past 6 weeks have been anything but normal, but the two teams which form the Resident Experience Department have not skipped a beat.
"For those working from home, we were able to get the technology up and running with a limited number of hurdles."
Over a year ago, Coyle and her team researched and implemented a new Call Centre software system which allows agents to take calls from any phone, whether at home or out in the field - technology that became key when the pandemic hit.
April proved to be a very busy month with just under 6,000 calls placed to Avenue Living. The average wait time was just 36 seconds, significantly lower than many other call centres across Canada.
The Prairie Relief Team was also created specifically to help any residents who required additional assistance during Covid-19. The team was formed to assist residents that may need to make amendments or changes to their payment options. "The average wait time for the Prairie Relief Team has been 43 seconds – which is really amazing given the volume that we've seen come through," she said.
Avenue Living was already in the process of developing an electronic renewal system that would allow residents to sign their lease without having to make an appointment with their Leasing Specialist when the pandemic hit. This process was expedited when Covid-19 hit and has proven to be highly successful.
"We had a record number of residents renew with us in March and April – likely due to the ability to renew leases electronically" said Coyle. "Our residents really liked the ease of not having to leave their home."
While working remotely comes with its challenges, the teams stay connected through team group chats. The leaders of the teams ensure there is always plenty of encouragement and support. "Times are tough right now. We have amazing leaders in place to lead these teams that are positive, supportive and ensure the team members enjoy their work. Happy employees like to help others," said Coyle.
"In the early days of the pandemic, no one knew what the impact truly would be. No one had a playbook. There was a high amount of uncertainty, but the teams banded together to ensure our residents and prospective residents were taken care of. Both the Call Centre and the Internal Sales team members truly embraced Avenue Living's core values of 'In It Together' and 'Duty of Care' with a renewed spirit. It was really inspiring to see," added Coyle.