Why Build-To-Rent providers, developers and property managers need to go digital to keep connected to their customers

June 11, 2020
Rachel Colgan

Guest blog by our client Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO of Spike Global

Proptech is continually evolving. You need to have your finger well and truly on the pulse at all times to not miss a beat. Just by looking back to ten years ago, industry practices seem irrecognisable, now dominated by docusign, virtual viewings and augmented reality. The property industry has relied on these tools significantly through the lockdown period, with many companies looking for the next big technology moment to provide that crucial USP to their customers. Apps are a simple yet effective solution – something we can access on-the-go, 24/7, with every facet in one place. We’ve seen it with online banking, and most of us now rarely need to go into branch.

By harnessing this software, we can meet today’s consumer expectations and make our lives much more efficient in the process, too.

What is Spike Global and who is using it?

Spike Global is a community management software connecting residents to neighbours, building managers, development amentities and services through our Spike Living Portal and potential buyers to new properties through our Spike Lettings & Sales Suite.

Spike is reinventing the modern home and workplace through technology that creates connected communities. Providers are adopting this efficient digital solution to streamline customer jouneys throughout their entire sales experience and beyond.

By saving the need for endless emails or in-person meetings, the benefits have been felt across the industry, particularly through lockdown. Since February – the last month prior to lockdown – engagement across our Spike Living portals saw over a sevenfold increase in the volume of posts, shares and interactions (March; 712%, April; 680%) management queries, community outreach, social forums and events.

Our unique software has the heart and community spirit of apps like Nextdoor, with high functionality, sleek design and user experience at its core. The Spike Living portal is able to create rich, micro-communities in specific developments and buildings, allowing residents to feel safer in their homes, better connected to the spaces in which they live, and feel supported by their community.

We’ve successfully rolled out the technology to a huge variety of developers and companies. It started at Battersea Power Station to keep residents up to date with how building works were going, but since then the technology has developed tenfold. Clients such as The Crown Estate, Canary Wharf, Ballymore, Fizzy Living, Moda Living, Chelsea Barracks, Renaker, Deansgate Square, Host Students, CA Management, Pocket Living, Apt, all use our Proptech software to maintain their communities. Both residents and building managers are benefiting from flexible, user-centric technology that can manage a resident’s journey from browsing a property, to building a life there, from socialising in neighbourhood groups to submitting defects and much more. We take pride in the fact that our software helps create better places for people to work and live.

Can it help buyers?

Our software can absolutely be used to communicate throughout the buying process. We encourage developers to get buyers up and running on Spike as soon as an offer has been accepted. This allows property managers to send out updates, moving in tips, manuals etc. – all prior to completion. Battersea Power Station, for example, introduced the portal to residents prior to them moving in. Within the portal they could choose their moving in slots – a very effective way to manage a lot of people moving in at the same time. The portal was a huge benefit to residents at Battersea, receiving speedy responses, attentive customer care and a channel to communicate with new neighbours right from the get-go.

In addition, our software has the ability to manage the entire sales journey. For example, one of our clients, Apt Living, uses Spike as an online brochure, where buyers can register their interest and book a viewing. The buyer then uses the same details to login to our residential portal to engage with the community, keeping the whole process streamlined for the buyer. Users are able to interact with their property managers and/or developers and submit snagging issues, find FAQ’s and submit queries. By acting as an interactive hub of useful information, property managers and developers can build robust communities and make them function much more effectively. For end users, it makes people feel invested, valued and better connected to their new home.

Once residents have moved into their new home, the Spike dashboard offers all the tools clients need to create content: events, promotions, forums, clubs, announcements and news. Forum threads and clubs can be grouped by topic, from book clubs to fitness and wellbeing. The property management aspect means deliveries can be managed through the app, opening times of amenities, visitor parking, defects, key waivers and more. The technology is flexible and can be customised to fit workflows; an effective one-stop shop built around what a specific scheme has to offer.

How has it supported residents during the Coronavirus outbreak?

It’s clear that since the outbreak of coronavirus, the most positive communities are the ones that are better connected. Meaningful technology has never been more important.

We setup specific COVID-19 forums for each of our clients, where residents can offer or ask for help from their communities. Alongside these forums, an information centre within the portals has been dedicated to posting COVID-19 updates, sourcing only reliable government links and helpful advice. Clients can push out notifications to users, so some are sending out simple daily reminders about social distancing. As a result of these initiavies since February – the last month prior to lockdown – engagement on Spike saw over a sevenfold increase in the volume of posts, shares and interactions (March; 712%, April; 680%), covering community outreach, social forums, events and bookings.

As we all know, it’s not just about staying physically healthy throughout the crisis. People’s mental health is equally important. Residents need to know they’re not alone, and maintain some sense of normality. We’ve seen chat threads on sharing food, tips on how to entertain kids, offering to pick up shopping – you name it! To tackle the potential loneliness, every Friday during the lockdown period, one of our clients, Fizzy Living, hosts an online virtual hangout for residents to meet one another, chatting through video with drinks and nibbles for a social atmosphere. Another example is from our client Moda Living, who’ve set up virtual balcony workouts communicated and organised through Spike the app, where thousands of people have ended up viewing it. A foodbank at the Fizzy Living Canning Town site was promoted through the Spike portal, to ensure that those residents who were under stricter self-isolation rules would always have access to supplies.

Seeing how the app is being used in times of hardship restores your faith in humanity, embracing how we can come together even with social distancing thanks to the help of technology.

How is Spike helping the property industry?

As leaders we need to be considering resident and staff mental health, happiness and wellbeing. Long-term social engagement to create a sense of wellbeing and identity is key to this happiness. End users feel invested, valued and better connected to their homes or work places. We form long-term partnerships with our client’s to help them move into this new age of community management. At Spike we offer more than just technology soltuions, we work with our clients to improve their community engagement strategies to achieve their KPIs. We make it our business to understand how communities interact and we share these insights with our clients.

For more information about our client, Spike Global, please visit www.spikeglobal.com.

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