INDUSTRY

Real estate/ Property management 

LOCATION

South Africa

CHALLENGES
  • Extensive portfolio and customer base
  • Lack of automation 
  • Longer resolution times 
  • Poor NPS
FAVORITE FEATURES
  • Automation
  • Ease of use 
  • Analytics 

Agents

188

Rollout and training for all agents 

5 weeks

NPS

59.26

The Company

One of South Africa’s leading residential and commercial property management companies, City Property, focuses on urban renewal and bringing new life into cities. With over five decades of experience in the property industry, City Property continues to grow as the preferred property asset management company through its various redevelopment, refurbishment, and other transformational projects. 

With property letting and management as its cornerstone, establishing a seamless customer service experience was integral to the growth and success of the company. City Property had a Contact Centre and a few automated processes. However, overall operations mainly were manual. While customer service processes and workflows were digital, automation was lacking. 

The outbreak of the pandemic further heightened City Property’s need for automation to improve the management of ticket enquiries across various channels and the overall customer service experience.

The Challenges


An extensive portfolio and customer base lacking automation 

Residential apartment management is City Property’s most significant portfolio, and they currently manage between 11,000 to 12,000 apartments in Pretoria and Johannesburg CBD. They also have a student portion in Hatfield, Pretoria, and a mixed development complex with flats and shops.

City Property’s most extensive customer base is individuals interested in their residential management wing - singles, professionals, single parents, and families looking for a home. They also have commercial and retail spaces where they manage a lot of offices, shopping centres, and street-facing shops. The organised shopping spaces primarily focus on individuals looking to open a hairdressing salon, a flower, or a coffee shop.

The bulk of enquiries received by City Property are individuals looking for a residential or business space, and they have a team of leasing agents who deal with these enquiries. Most of the customers walk into the offices and enquire. So, people walk into the offices daily, and others reach out via the website or other digital channels.

City Property has three teams, commercial, retail, and residential focused on the specifics of each area of leasing. Apart from the leasing teams, the customer service side serves existing customers. Daily enquiries where customers walk-in or reach out to report issues like a blocked drain inside their apartment, enquiries about their accounts, general complaints, or if they want to change something on the lease agreement.


The need for a better platform to enable effortless customer service 

There was a global lockdown during the pandemic outbreak, and everyone had to switch to a remote work model almost immediately. City Property’s operations were highly office-based, and the staff was not equipped to work from home. So, within a couple of days, shifting everything from computers, the Contact Centre screens, and telephones to the installation of routers had to be completed. South Africa also struggled with data and connectivity issues, further adding to business challenges.

Customer service was impacted significantly, as the flow of information and agent productivity took a severe hit. While in the office, an agent would receive a WhatsApp message, email, or call, and they could just create a record of the cases on their system that would then go through to the back office. But, when they switched to working from home, the team had enough time to only set up an office for three agents from the seven on the team. 

  • Lack of automation 
  • Increase in WhatsApp enquiries 
  • Just three agents handling all customer support tickets 
  • Longer turnaround time
  • A significant drop in Net Promoter Score (NPS)

These hurdles created a massive bottleneck as agents couldn't submit an enquiry that would go through to the relevant department to deal with it. A rise in enquiries and inability to get back within 24 hours had a poor reflection on City Property’s customer service, severely affecting NPS. 

“With our old service provider, it wasn’t like Freshdesk that you can quickly implement. It also gave us the freedom to change things independently without having any dependencies on Freshworks or needing a separate quote for every build or change. We could do everything in-house and deploy within a couple of hours. The pricing and ease of use were what we loved about Freshdesk, and that’s why we opted for it.”

Lettitia Findlay

Head of Marketing, Communication, and Customer Experience.

City Property

The Solution


Enabling effortless customer service during a global pandemic 

City Property got in touch with its service provider to leverage BOTs to simplify WhatsApp enquiries. They realised they could not implement it within a few weeks as they had to build and deploy the BOT. That’s when Lettitia Findlay, Head of Marketing, Communication, and Customer Experience at City Property Administration, started to look for an alternative service provider and zeroed in on Freshdesk. 

Here's what we delivered: 

  • Freshdesk rollout to 188 agents completed within five weeks, including automation building and agent training 

Remarkable improvement in NPS since the implementation of Freshdesk:

  • Before Freshdesk – Q1 of 2020: NPS 49.46 (before South Africa went into lockdown)
  • During lockdown – Q4 of 2020: NPS 13.70 (November of 2020 as South Africa started to return to the office)
  • After Freshdesk – Q4 of 2021: NPS 59.26 (November of 2021)

The Benefits


Transition made easy with Freshdesk 

Freshdesk, designed by Freshworks, is a cloud-based omnichannel engagement solution that helps agents rapidly resolve customer enquiries. Freshdesk, backed by the Neo platform, offers visibility across multiple digital channels through a single unified interface.

Evaluating the product, presenting it to the leadership team, and getting buy-in from everybody - the decision-making process took some time. The transition from the old service provider to Freshdesk was complete within three months, and the training was much quicker. Within two weeks, they completed the training across all teams involved. 

Today, the Freshworks Neo platform’s Messaging Channels, in tandem with Freshdesk’s scenario automations, simplifies multi-channel messaging and helps reduce the average resolution time. Whether it's WhatsApp or email enquiries, even during the busiest periods, agents can engage with context, simply use the relevant scenario automation, and get that ticket immediately sent to the next person, therefore avoiding any bottlenecks.  

Between 22nd December and 3rd January alone, when City Property was closed for the holidays, they received 1000+ tickets. When they returned to the office, just three agents were back at work to close these tickets. With Freshdesk scenario automation, they could effortlessly resolve all these tickets within the first week itself. 

Here is what the current Freshdesk workflow looks like:

  • Ticket comes in 
  • It gets automatically assigned to the back office agents if it comes through the website.
  • If the ticket comes via email or WhatsApp, that comes into the Contact Centre.
  • Agents go through each one of those tickets to understand the enquiries. They just apply the relevant scenario, and that ticket then goes through to the designated teams and gets assigned to an agent.

The team is also using Freshdesk analytics for simplified reporting and detained insights. 

“Our Managing Director wanted to understand Freshdesk analytics and was very impressed with the reports, the dashboards, and the analytics that I could present to him. He’s asked me to present it to our Board of Directors. The information we get from the analytics and the dashboards is very insightful.”

Lettitia Findlay

Head of Marketing, Communication, and Customer Experience.

City Property

Leveraging the power of analytics to make the most 

Today, the team is leveraging insights from Freshdesk Analytics, backed by the Neo platform, to drive data-driven decisions. With different metrics available in Analytics, the team can track ticket assignments and take action on load balancing, improving agent productivity. They optimised the tickets per agent from 600 to 100 with insights from Analytics, which helped agents respond to their customers faster and close more deals.

City Property’s team loved the dashboard of Freshworks Analytics in particular, as it gave them access to all the information they needed on a single screen, unlike their previous solution. They extensively use the dashboard and have added extra ones to enable access to more team members. 

The Presentation mode within Analytics is highly appreciated by senior leadership and is in fact being used to present to the board of directors. The agents have given positive feedback as the solution is easy to use, gives them visibility across teams, and allows them to track their performance.

Looking ahead in 2022

City Property is now exploring BOTs, and this is one of the prominent features they are focusing on building in 2022. They were exploring this feature during the lockdown and want to implement it in the coming months to enhance customer experience further. 

With BOTs, they will be able to answer FAQs on their website and assist people after hours. This will ensure questions get answered by the BOT without taking too much time from the agents. The Contact Centre is closed on weekends. So, people looking for some information over the weekend can get assistance from the BOT and fill in the required details. The BOT will then make sure an agent gets assigned who can immediately start to work on that enquiry or complaint on Monday. 

They are also testing Freshdesk Contact Centre and will present it to the management once they have their test results. “Freshdesk Contact Centre will add more value to our business as we will be able to see reports. Our current system does not give us access to live reports. We have to go and manually download a report.” Lettitia Findlay, Head of Marketing, Communication, and Customer Experience. With  Freshdesk Contact Centre, teams will be able to track everything in real-time. It will also automatically create a ticket once there's a call coming in, so agents don’t have to start tickets afresh. The ticket basics will be prefilled, and they just need to fill in the details.

“Our NPS has skyrocketed ever since we implemented Freshdesk. From the reports we receive based on our post-call surveys, I can see the scores continuously rising every month. People are delighted with our response times, and it reflects on our NPS today.”

Lettitia Findlay

Head of Marketing, Communication, and Customer Experience.

City Property

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