The Times recently published an article from the leading vice-chancellor or Exeter University Sir Steve Smith, who proclaimed that “email is as good as dead among students.”
The vice-chancellor said that “most students no longer checked their emails regularly and were choosing to tweet for help rather than wait for a response in their inbox”.
“There is no point in emailing students any more," he told The Times. "They get in touch with us by social media, especially Twitter, and we’ve had to employ people to reply that way.
“We have a round-the-clock team of press officers and graduates savvy with social media.
“Students will tweet for help if something has gone wrong, or a prospective student will tweet a question about the requirements for a course and expect an immediate response.”
Exeter University has a team of people working in social media, including an on-call officer to respond to queries out of office hours.
Katie Connolly, Birmingham University’s digital marketing communications manager, also was quoted in the article saying that students preferred to communicate through social media because it was faster than email.
"For this generation, this is a normal way of communicating and their expectations are very high. You can’t leave things a week or two. Email is slower.”
Quite simply, as this generation is now looking for rental property, they won’t want to communicate with lettings agents via phone or email. They want to inquire about properties through social media. They’ll choose to deal with agents and therefore landlords who are equipped to speak to them through their preferred channels.
As more and more of this generation enters the rental market, we predict that you’ll see less and less communication from agents via telephone and email and more and more communication via social media channels and apps like Whats App.
There are agents who may have social media accounts but use them only sporadically and often only for promotion while some don’t use social media at all. Have a look particularly at Twitter to see if the agent tweets regularly and more importantly RESPONDS quickly.
If you have a twitter account of your own, conduct a little mystery shopping by tweeting the agent you are thinking of using and see how quickly you get a reply.
Have a look at your agent’s website and check and see if prospective tenants can share properties they like via social media with social media sharing buttons. If so, that agent is tailoring the website experience to the social media generation.
Another aspect that you may want to consider is that many younger people use the internet primarily through their smartphones so it is important to check that your agent’s website is mobile-friendly. Have a look at the site on your phone and make sure it can be read and seen from a mobile device and preferably has been optimised for the mobile format.
There is something to be said for “good old-fashioned customer service”. However, as younger tenants enter the rental market in increasing numbers these changes to the way people communicate will have a bigger impact on how property is let. That “good old-fashioned customer service” will need to be provided through very different channels. But it should still be excellent customer service.
Want to have a chat to find out how we could help you to get your property let or sold? You can go old school and call us on 0208 799 3371 or email email@example.com or try giving us a tweet @northfieldslive or chat to us via our Facebook page. However you want to chat to us, we’re here to help.