Developing a Customer Service–Conscious Team for High Performance

Effective customer service is a collective effort of every employee.

Rajaa El Oualidi brings her wealth of experience in customer service to the table as a senior director of operations at UDR, a real estate investment trust (REIT) company. She created a system that requires team members to be a part of the customer satisfaction process by executing their duties diligently.

Rajaa El Oualidi is the guest in this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast. She speaks with host Chad Franzen about the importance of cultivating a customer service culture.

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Show Notes 

[0:26] Intro     

  • Chad Franzen mentions some of the past guests who have been on the show including David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth.  
  • Chad Franzen introduces SweetProcess, a workflow tool that helps businesses to streamline their operations even in life-or-death situations.     
  • SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial without a credit card.   

[1:22] Chad Franzen introduces the guest, Rajaa El Oualidi.  

[1:56] Rajaa gives an overview of UDR.          

  • UDR is a real estate investment trust (REIT) multi-family company with portfolios across the United States.
  • The organization owns and manages properties in Colorado, California, Florida, Texas, New York, and many more states.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in business, UDR has advanced technologies. It has its own systems and processes for operations.

[2:52] What’s involved in Rajaa’s day-to-day role as a director of senior operations at UDR?

  • Rajaa oversees two of the organization’s properties, working with 16 team members.
  • She engages her team members daily to figure out the plan for the day and the best ways to achieve the plans.

[3:37] Rajaa talks about the roles her team members play on the job.

  • Rajaa has team members that act in different capacities on the team. They include resident service managers, resident service coordinators, resident service specialists, resident engineers, and resident techs or service engineers.
  • She works with third-party vendors such as porters, landscapers, plumbers, and HVAC engineers to maintain the properties.

[4:16] How important is service in what UDR does?

  • Service is at the core of the organization’s operations. It provides good customer service to ensure that its customers are always comfortable.
  • Service also comes to play in the little things like greeting customers warmly and inquiring if they need anything. 

[5:12] Rajaa explains how she ensures that every team member offers the best service in their role.

  • She makes sure that team members understand the organization’s goals and mission, and buy into them.
  • The team works in unison, abiding by the company’s rules, policies, and guidelines to achieve its goals.

[6:02] How does Rajaa understand consumer behavior?

  • Rajaa has authentic conversations with clients to get feedback about their services.
  • She conducts net promoter score (NPS) surveys at different points to understand the customer needs and how satisfied they are with the services they are getting.

[6:54] Does the feedback impact the overall customer service process in the organization or is it a singular basis for one customer?

  • The feedback affects the overall customer experience. It’s an avenue for the team to improve its services, and it uses it for that purpose.

[7:24] Rajaa talks about the concierge service at UDR.

  • The organization uses a 24/7 third-party concierge service for its clients.
  • They train the third-party concierge service provider on how to use their platform and how to cater to their customers effectively.

[8:01] What is Rajaa most proud of about the properties she manages?

  • Rajaa is proud of the value she and her team offers in the properties she manages.
  • She’s proud that the properties are equipped with the latest smart-home technology to ensure customers’ comfort and convenience.

[9:19] Rajaa sheds insights into the quality assurance UDR implements to maintain high-quality service.

  • Every team member is accountable for quality assurance at the organization. They have a mandate to meet the outlined expectations in their service delivery.
  • The team sends surveys to clients to measure their satisfaction levels with the services they are getting.

[10:31] Rajaa talks about the need to implement positive feedback from customers.

  • Rajaa recounts how she implemented positive feedback from a client during COVID-19.
  • Taking the initiative to communicate with customers to get feedback makes a huge impact.

[11:39] How can people find out more about UDR?

  • You can visit the UDR website to get more information about the organization and its services.

[12:01] Outro

About Rajaa El Oualidi

Rajaa El Oualidi is a senior director of operations at UDR, a residential services provider. With more than 15 years of experience in the property management field, she possesses advanced skills in customer service, renovations, budgeting, and negotiation.

Before her engagement at UDR, Rajaa worked as a property manager at Windsor Communities.

Rajaa has a bachelor’s in business law and an MBA in finance. A mother of two children, she’s also originally from Morocco.

Transcript of the interview

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Chad Franzen: Chad Franzen here, co-host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their jobs. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done. And Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many more. This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. Have you ever had team members ask you the same questions over and over again, and this is the 10th time you spent explaining it? There’s a better way and a solution. SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop dead easy to train an onboard new staff and save time with their existing staff. Not only do universities, banks and hospitals use them, but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations. Use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time, so you can focus on growing your team and empowering them to do their best work.

Chad Franzen: Sign up for a 14-day free trial. No credit card required. Go to sweetprocess.com, that’s sweet like candy S-W-E-E-T process.com. Rajaa El Oualidi is Senior Director of Operations at UDR. She’s an experienced operations manager with a demonstrated history of over 15 years in the property management field. She’s originally from Morocco and a mother of two. She has a bachelor’s in business law and an MBA in finance. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?

Rajaa El Oualidi: I’m doing great. How are you doing, Chad?

Chad Franzen: Good. Thank you. Before we got started recording, I forgot to ask you how to pronounce your name. Did I get that right?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Yeah. You got it perfectly right.

Chad Franzen: Okay, great. Good to hear. Hey, so tell me a little bit more about UDR and what your company does.

Rajaa El Oualidi: So UDR is a REIT multi-family company. They have portfolios over United States. They have properties that they own and manage in Denver, Colorado, California, Florida, Texas, New York, and many more states. And again, just focus on the multi-family. They either build new properties and manage them or buy properties and again, own and manage them. So UDR been doing this for over, I would say, 20 years and they have their own system of running business. They have their own system of processes and they’re super advanced when it comes to technology and the multi-family business, advanced than anybody that I’ve had a chance or had the privilege to work for. So, really happy to be with UDR.

Chad Franzen: Good. What’s involved in your day-to-day role then as Senior Director of Operations?

Rajaa El Oualidi: So my role, basically I do oversee two of their properties. The first one is Steele Creek is located in Cherry Creek area, Denver, Colorado. The other one is called Cirrus. It’s a brand new property leaser, and I have basically team members on each property full of 16 team members. And with that being said, my day would start as just again, gathering with my team, figuring out the plan for the day, see what they’re working with and set it up a action plan for every situation that we might have occurring or we’re going to come across.

Chad Franzen: What are some examples of the roles that your team members might have in that kind of framework?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Sure. So I have resident service managers. I do have resident service coordinators and resident service specialists. I do have an engineering team that will have to work in the building. So I have resident engineers and resident techs or service engineers or service techs. And then I would have also third part vendors that we oversee, and those are [inaudible 00:04:02], porters, landscapers, plumbers, and HVAC engineers as well.

Chad Franzen: A common word that you said in describing a lot of those people on your team was service. How important is service in what you guys do?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Yes, service is everything we do, certainly service and customer service, everything we do daily. Again, we work in people’s homes and we have to make sure that the homes are very well maintained and that they are enjoying a luxury living experience with UDR. So again, it comes to calling an Uber for them, figuring out where they’re going to have dinner tonight at a restaurant, booking reservation by my concierge’s team, or when it comes to taking care of a plumbing issue in their apartment or taking care of a renewal agreement that they have to sign. Everything between their… It’s basically service. Just the fact that we have to talk to them and say, “Good morning” or come across in the hallway or in the elevator, we have that conversation. That’s a service that we’re providing for sure.

Chad Franzen: So as Senior Director of Operations, how do you ensure that everybody within their specific role provides the best service that they possibly can?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Certainly. So we do have a vision. We do have a goal that everybody’s aware of. We do have a platform, we have a way of doing things and again, and a goal that we would like to achieve. And we work as one team. So first division has been already explained and everybody’s buying into it and loving it and the platform as well. When they say platform is the way of doing things and a new era of handling multi-family business daily and providing the service to the clientele. So with that being said, the team is fully aware of the rules, fully aware of the policies and guidelines and where we are and where we want to go. And whatever comes across them, again, something that we all talk about, we brainstorm and we figure out solution for it, and we move forward.

Chad Franzen: Is there something that you do to understand consumer behavior or the behavior of the people you’re serving?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Certainly. We depend a lot on surveys. We depend a lot on authentic conversations that we have with the clients. We depend heavily on NPS scores, as far as surveys, after we do the move in. After they move into their home, we basically survey them and see how that went. When they renew the lease, when they submit a service request, when they move out, when they tour the property or any property, we certainly would like to get their feedback. And we use that feedback heavily to understand their needs, wants, and their behavior and consumer basically from a consumer standing point to make sure that we are answering the most of what that clientele would like to see or have in their new home.

Chad Franzen: The feedback you get on those surveys, does that impact your overall process often, or is it just a singular basis for one customer?

Rajaa El Oualidi: It does affect everything, honestly. Does affect that specific customer experience and affects other customers experiences. It does affect everybody from the porters all the way to the owners of the company. Again, without the feedback, we can’t get better. Without the feedback, we won’t be able to know what the clientele is looking for and what we need to do to differentiate our company and our service.

Chad Franzen: What about the wishlist of a client? You mentioned concierge service. Do you guys take a deep dive into that?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Sure. So we have a concierge company or third part company that we use. And again, they provide concierge service, like for the property that I’m in right now, it’s Steele Creek, it’s a luxury rental. So we do have to provide 24/7 concierge services. So we use a third part company for that. And again, we do give them training. We do provide them with an idea of the platform, idea of our goal, and what we would like to achieve and what kind of service and the type of services that we would like to provide. And they basically answer that requirement.

Chad Franzen: What are you most proud of about the properties that you oversee?

Rajaa El Oualidi: I would say proud of everything. If I was to tell you what I’m proud of, I’m proud of everything and I’m privileging to be with an amazing company, UDR. Again, they’re really very well versed and advance in technology, new way, new era of doing business in the multi-family. I am proud of the team, I’m proud of the properties of value that we offer. Luxury rentals, beautiful finishes locations in the Denver, Colorado. The amount of advanced technology we offer in each property like Bluetooth entry access, and again, everything you could do from your phone, almost like owning a Tesla house or Tesla home. So again, just really proud of so many things that we are able to provide and offer that we enjoy and we buy into and we basically see the joyment of the clientele when they hear about these services and they hear about these… Again, and the fairest ways of renting an apartment and enjoying living in an apartment. So, certainly proud to be part of this team, proud to be part of these processes and this platform that UDR has to offer.

Chad Franzen: Yeah. It sounds like a great place to live. Do you guys have a quality assurance way of like a self checklist or something like that, to make sure that things are up to the par that you expect?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Certainly yes, we have. We do a lot of… Again, every team member is accountable. Every team member is the supervisor of himself, I would say. So, we certainly are clear on what the expectations should be from the company and from the clientele. And those expectations has to be met unless there is any issue. So, certainly we do a lot of walks on the property. We, again send surveys to survey how the service was from the resident standpoint to hear, “Okay, was the maintenance team member taking care of the plumbing issue perfectly? Did they clean everything after they were done? They close the door, they turn the lights off. Was everything taken care of to your expectations?” So again, we do survey, we do check for feedback and make sure that everything was done up to the customer satisfaction. And we learn from any opportunities that were to be offered to us. We will certainly learn from those as well.

Chad Franzen: Have you ever changed your process because of maybe a positive feedback that you didn’t expect? Like, “Oh, we didn’t realize this was that important.” So you made more of an emphasis. Obviously, you should change process based on negative feedback, but what about positive feedback? Has that ever caused you to change your process?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Certainly, it did. I remember during COVID, this was outside of this company, however, it’s a norm in the multi-family. So I remember during COVID, we basically decided, me and my team decided to pick up the phone and just call a few residents that was really hard to get feedback from, and just to call basically and say, “Hey, how’s it going? How are you holding up? Anything we can do for you? Anything we can assist with? Again, we’re working where you guys live and we’re here to assess the off service as much as we could.” And that phone call or personal phone call to the residents, made a huge difference. And we’ve got so much good feedback and we decided to call the rest of the community and just call to check in on them and see how they were doing, how they’re [inaudible 00:11:15] that we learned from. And again, we understand there are texts, there are emails, but picking up the phone and call and making that personal touch and calling somebody to check in on just because, I think makes a huge difference and huge impact.

Chad Franzen: Sure. Hey, it’s been great to talk to you today. Can you tell me how people can find out more information about UDR and the places you manage?

Rajaa El Oualidi: Sure. We have a website which is UDR and I do have websites also for Steele Creek and for Cirrus. So, if they’re looking to move into Cirrus, they can just type in Cirrus, Denver. And also for Steele Creek is Steele Creek Luxury Rentals. And it’s all in there. We have, the websites are very well equipped with all the information, floor plans and pricing, and specials as well.

Chad Franzen: Okay, great. Hey, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. It’s been great to hear your insights.

Rajaa El Oualidi: Thank you. It was great talking to you, Chad.

Chad Franzen: So long, everybody.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question. Do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. No credit card is required to sign up. Go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy and process like process.com. Go now to sweetprocess.com and sign up for your risk free-14 day trial.

Owen McGab Enaohwo: Hi, this is Owen, the CEO and Co-Founder here at SweetProcess. If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast interview, actually, you know what I want you to do? Go ahead and leave us a five star review on iTunes. That way, we get more people aware of the good stuff that you get here on this podcast. Again, go on to iTunes and leave us a five star review. Looking forward to reading your review. Have a good day.

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