10 critical questions to ask when vetting a tenant app provider

April 19, 2021

8 minute read

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Choosing a tenant app that meets the needs of your community and building management teams is complicated – especially when there are so many different providers in the market.

After a decade working in tenant experience, we have seen landlords adopt piecemeal solutions and come away disappointed with the capabilities or results they received. Here are 10 qualification questions to help you dig deeper into a provider’s solution, and separate marketing spin from true functionality.

What you should look for in a tenant app

1. How many active users has your platform had in the last month, and what are your repeat user stats?
Active users refers to the aggregate sum of users that have interacted with your platform over a given month, and is vital for determining the stickiness of platform users. This metric is important because it galvanises the relationship between a tenant experience provider and landlord: Engagement with the platform cannot be managed with a ‘set and forget’ approach. Both parties should be equally invested in engagement because it proves the ongoing quality and value of the platform to your customers. If your provider leaves you in the lurch, and without the tools or resources you need to run your own engagement strategy, your platform will suffer.

Equiem has more active users and higher repeat usage numbers than any other tenant engagement platform (60%, on average, in 2020). Our numbers reflect the security of our tech, our extensive knowledge and understanding when managing retailers, as well as the overall success of our tenant engagement strategy. We work with you to ensure customer service and satisfaction is always measured.

2. What is your integration approach, how experienced is your tech team when it comes to integrating the platform into other systems?
With digital transformation changing the face of commercial real estate, it’s imperative that your choice of tenant experience software is fit for purpose. Each building and community is different and you need a platform that is easily customised, branded and adapted to your needs – without requiring any coding time.

At Equiem, our tech is highly flexible, and the experienced team behind it has the ability to tailor the platform to your building’s individual requirements.

3. Are you compliant with privacy laws?
Your choice of provider needs to demonstrate adequate data protection and security measures. Certain measures are expensive and time-consuming to attain, and it is common for smaller start-ups to put off getting the correct certifications.

Data security itself often requires the dedication of a team, as well as robust systems. Data breaches can dismantle an entire business, and tenant experience technology by its nature deals in customer data, which presents additional risk. Repair costs after even a minor breach can reach millions of dollars.

Equiem is compliant with PCI-DSS and privacy laws, including GDPR. We also have processes in place to monitor and maintain the reliability of our platform.

4. What kind of data will be collected and will I have ownership over it?
At Equiem we use advanced metrics – they’re insightful and actionable so landlords can use them to help with their strategy to retain and attract tenants.

Usable data, lots of it... and you own it all.

You’ll have access to comprehensive dashboards and reporting tools, as well as the help of dedicated account managers to analyse and contextualise your findings. And while certain providers hold onto your data and license it back to you, with Equiem, you’ll own all the data collected. This will help ease the transition to another provider should you ever decide to switch.

5. Is your platform set up to process payments?
Do you wish for your tenants to purchase their morning coffee via your platform? Or subscribe to a locker in your change room facilities? An e-commerce solution is one piece of the puzzle, but your chosen provider must also satisfy security requirements for taking payments from customers (think credit card encryption and secure payment gateways).

Equiem’s platform is able to take and process payments securely, allowing you to facilitate maximum convenience for your tenants and offer a full range of services.

6. Is the platform available in both a desktop and app version?
While most partners offer their tenant engagement platform through a smartphone app, there are benefits to having both app and desktop versions. For instance, tenants have the flexibility to use the platform that best suits their working habits (e.g. highly-mobile executives versus desk-bound customer service representatives).

During the peak remote-working periods of 2020, Equiem platform usage skewed to 90% in favour of desktop. Other tenant experience providers, who tackled COVID-19 without a desktop platform, risked losing connection to entire tenant populations. Equiem offers both capabilities in the same package to help ensure more customers are reachable throughout the day, no matter which platform they choose to use.

7. Do you have what I need in a feature set, and how deep are those features?
t’s important to compare feature sets and work out exactly what you need. Other tenant apps may tick boxes, but the actual features behind those boxes may not have any depth, or customisability. To understand exactly what you need out of a tenant experience platform, we recommend you do the following:

  • Make a list of your ideal features (e.g. “Communication”)
  • Elaborate on those features with user stories (e.g. “I want to be able to send my tenants emergency communications with one tool”)
  • And, if you can, reference similar tools or services you have used with similar functionality (e.g. “I have used Mailchimp before, and I like the user experience”)

This approach helps you to scrutinise the features and claims of providers. A platform may have a ‘newsletters’ function, for example, but it may not allow user segmentation, which is a crucial feature in proper long-term tenant engagement. Without comprehensive user stories, you might never discover a technological gap until it’s too late.
Equiem’s CMS is the perfect example of a deep deliverable, with advanced functionality beyond the capability of the market norms, including features such as content segmentation, scheduling, comments, newsletter editing tools, and more. Our features are designed to do more than manage content; they allow us to drive the most usage.

To find out more about crafting illuminating user stories, check out: How user stories help landlord systems integrate with tenant experience tech.

Think first in use cases, and the rest will follow more easily.

8. How is the overall user experience?
Ensure the platform interface is easy and intuitive to use. The best way to measure this is through those active user and repeat user stats we mentioned earlier – these stats are what help us continually polish our product. But make sure you can actually use the product yourself, as early in the demonstration process as possible – you will see, within seconds of navigating tabs and clicking buttons, whether the platform is consistent with best UX and UI practices.

‘Modern design’ and high attention to aesthetic quality may not seem like valuable attributes, but a platform that is ugly or has an outdated design will likely damage your brand. Consider also the importance of white-labelling and customisation – to properly build brand equity, you need a beautiful app and an app that bears your visual profile.

Both Equiem’s web and mobile apps adhere to best practice for UX and UI design. We have iterated on our platforms over the past decade using a combination of SaaS expertise and crucial feedback from our landlord partners, ensuring our design philosophy continually aligns with their evolving needs.

9. What is the spend and size of your product team? Experience level?
With the fast evolution rate of technology, it’s important to find a partner whose tenant experience platform (and associated product suite) evolves at a similar pace. A company that started two years ago simply cannot achieve the same level of complexity and sophistication in design as a company that has been iterating for the last ten years.

Our product team is an ongoing investment, and all our developers, engineers, and product owners are based locally. In 2021, we plan to make significant investments into expanding our flexible space management capabilities; our building management operations solutions; our data analytics systems, and more.

10. What are the support services you will provide to make this transition as efficient and successful as possible?
Tenant experience can be hard and resource-intensive. Launching a platform can take anywhere from four weeks to two months, and the process of ongoing tenant engagement requires a significant investment of time and sizeable budgets. Good customer service and experience is a task that is never finished, after all, only bettered.

Equiem provides client services, engagement strategies, and ongoing technical support. Our technology is only the start of what we do for our partners. From content templates and an exclusive partner network through to ongoing reports, analysis, and beyond – the toolkit that goes with the technology is as important as the technology itself.

Want to find out more? Book a consultation with us today.
Topics: Engage