Kara Bubb: Communicating with Students Doesn’t Have to be Tricky

by Katie Sloan

Today’s students are dialed into their technology. They enjoy having their headphones in, listening to music or a new podcast. They share their life experiences via social channels throughout the day. While one might think that it should be easy to communicate with students that are so in-tune with their phones, that isn’t always the case. 

Your community can feature jaw-dropping amenities, an unbeatable location and incomparable design, but you could be getting tuned out by your residents, especially if on-site associates aren’t finding ways to effectively communicate. 

In today’s technology-centric world, effective communication is not always a simple undertaking. Amidst the constantly evolving channels and technologies available, reaching and engaging your students can be quite the challenge. 

Below are some methods to ensure they don’t tune out your message:  

Show a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 

Today’s students may be too young to remember this classic, but the message remains valid today. Students have a strong sense of self and preference. This includes how, when and where they want to be communicated with, and all preferences are not created equal. They want school business to be conducted in one place, social to be conducted in another, and might even want business regarding where they live conducted in a third, separate space.

On-site associates need to honor a student’s communication preferences when it comes to their apartment living. Texting a resident who has not indicated they want push notifications is a great way to create frustration for both the student and your teams. 

Offer easy, cross-directional communication. 

Today’s students live on their phones, and more specifically, in mobile applications. According to Hackernoon, in 2017 smartphone users spent over three hours a day on average in mobile apps.

Push notifications from applications are an efficient way to send out important information from your community directly to the home screen of a student’s mobile device. These can include updates about community events, property maintenance or reminders to pay rent. This feature can also be significant in times of crisis when getting a message to students is of critical importance. 

It is also important to look for technologies that allow students to effectively communicate their living needs with you. App technology delivers a real-time ability for students to send messages directly to the management office, make service requests, pay their rent, RSVP for community events and reserve common areas for personal use. 

Be direct. Be brief. 

Think about all of the media that is competing for a student’s attention — a never-ending social feed, texts from friends, emails from family, clips from last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Today’s students have plenty of priorities vying for their attention, so whenever you are communicating with them, your messages need to be concise, informative and without fluff.  

Survey regularly. 

Part of communicating well with residents is getting feedback about their living experience. Regular surveys can help identify opportunities to better meet student needs and exceed their expectations. 

When renters know they have an outlet for providing their feedback and can see their building respond accordingly, that will serve only to increase their appreciation for the community.

Engage in technology that engages a community. 

Students may prefer communicating through technology, but they still want a sense of connection and an experience off of their phones. Creating a sense of community is important and can be achieved by using the property application to promote events, or enabling students to sell items or arrange a study group on the community’s virtual bulletin board.

To be sure, on-site associates at student housing communities have no shortage of demands on their time. However, they have to make sure they are devoting sufficient time and resources to communicating with their residents. Stated simply, resident satisfaction depends on it. 

Kara Bubb is the VP of Product for Mobile Doorman, the industry-leading software provider of custom mobile apps connecting residents and their communities. She helps the guide innovation for the company that deliver the greatest CX for all users. 

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