How to Leverage HOA Software Without Losing the Human Element
From the first adoption of the World Wide Web in 1991 to the massive shift to online-only services during the pandemic in 2020, companies constantly need to keep up with the trends and leverage technology solutions to stay competitive. And homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are no exception. There are serious benefits to implementing software and digital platforms to boost efficiency and effectiveness. However, it’s crucial that board members and managers use technology as an asset to enhance the experience rather than a replacement for the coveted relationships that come with living in a managed community.
But how do you know which HOA software is right for your community and will not take away the human factor? Here are three things to consider when selecting HOA software, tips for maintaining a human element, and more.
What to Consider When Choosing HOA Software for YourCommunity
With the plentitude of HOA software on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best fit for your community. To help you make the right choice, here are three factors to consider:
1. Audience: Who Will Be Using This App?
Understanding your audience (i.e., the residents in your community) is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a software. After all, they’ll be the ones using it day in and day out. Ask yourself the following questions:
○ Who will be using this software?
i. Think about your demographic and if they’d be open to using technology. Whether it’s cost, privacy, or a lack of knowledge, assess their concerns and find a solution that delivers peace of mind.
○ Is my community capable of adapting and learning how to use this software?
i. Make sure residents have the time, patience, and capacity to learn how to use the software. You’ll likely need to create training and onboarding resources or partner with a company that can assist with implementation.
○ Are there any HOA members that can learn how to maintain this software through maintenance or IT support?
i. If not, you might need a provider that offers 24/7 customer and tech support.
○ What types of software does my HOA currently use? Are the platforms challenging or easy to use?
i. If your current software or app is confusing, residents may be reluctant to keep themselves updated. Choose a simple, user-friendly app.
Exploring these questions with board members, managers, and even residents will help you gauge where the community stands and provide valuable insight to guide you to the correct selection.
2. HOA Software Functionalities: Features to Look Out For
When overseeing an HOA, going back and forth between software to manage accounting, architecture requests, communication, and other tasks and operations can cause quite a headache. Not only do you waste a lot of time, but you also run the risk of losing documents or mixing up information. To prevent this from happening, look for the features below in an HOA software:
· Accounting and operation capabilities or support
· Communications suite
· Resale document solutions
· Customizable digital voting
· Easy-to-use community website builder
· Private chats and community forums
· And much more.
3. Communication Offerings: Stay in Touch
Finding HOA software with solid communication offerings is vital to community success. That’s because good communication preserves the human element. The software you choose should include the following communication capabilities:
· Mobile compatibility – Can people use the software on their phones? Residents are often on the go, so being able to complete tasks and receive messages and notifications through a mobile app is a huge perk.
· Email communication – Because email is typically the most common channel for communication, your software should have an email feature. Emails allow communities to communicate new agendas, announce and schedule meetings, send newsletters, and keep residents informed about events.
· Auto-text messages and Push notifications- Automated texts or push notifications are another effective way to communicate with residents. From emergencies to severe weather warnings, these notifications ensure that even people who don’t check their emails get notified.
How to Leverage Technology and Stay Human
While HOA software can greatly benefit communities, there are concerns about losing a human touch. But, if done correctly with the right solution, technology can streamline efficiency and facilitate data-driven decisions. Here’s how you can use technology and still maintain a human element:
Provide In-Person or Virtual Training
It takes time to adapt to a new technology. Ease concerns and promote adoption by hosting regular training opportunities—either virtually or in person. You can create a personalized and encouraging environment through:
· Seminars– Seminars are a great way to help users get accustomed to new technology solutions. You can host training sessions in common areas or show attendees how to use the software step-by-step in an online meeting. By answering their questions and sharing troubleshooting advice, you’ll create a sense of security and organization.
· Video tutorials – Make a video tutorial for anyone who can’t attend in-person meetings. Record your screen while showing the app’s different functions and slowly explain how to use each feature. Although this one will take a bit more effort, it’ll come in handy when others ask the same question and need a quick answer.
· House visits – Offer residents in your community the option to schedule private, in-person trainings to help with setting up the HOA software.
Add a Pinch of Personalization
Incorporating an emotional touch into any messages you send to your community can keep everyone connected and close. Here are some ways you can include a personal touch:
· Customer support - Offer a customer support line to help anyone who may have technical difficulties with their HOA software. When residents know they have a real person to contact, they’ll feel supported and comfortable.
· Personalized auto responses – Whenever staff is unavailable, and people need answers to their questions, they usually receive an autoreply. Autoreplies can be either extremely unhelpful or full of useful information. To achieve the latter, build a response template specifically for residents. Here are a few templates to follow:
■ “Hello, we’ve received your inquiry regarding your need to submit a payment. We’re currently away from our desk but will have someone reach out to you in the next 30 minutes. Thank you for your patience.”
■ “Hello, thank you for your inquiry. We’ve received your request but are currently assisting other residents. We’ll assist you in 14 minutes. If you wish to have us call you back, please provide your phone number so that we may personally assist you.”
Run Your Community Like a Pro
When you leverage technology, you aren’t necessarily losing a human element. Rather, you can incorporate technology and enhance how your HOA operates, increasing resident participation and satisfaction. Foster a personal connection even when using technology by solving problems quickly and efficiently and enabling an easy exchange of ideas, opinions, and suggestions between residents, board members, and community managers.
Looking to take your community to the next level? Request a demo today to see how TownSq's tools can enhance the community living experience.