Get ready for a vent session. If you ever need to hire a mover, I highly recommend NOT using World Moving Service. I have never been so frustrated by a company as I have with this one. My one desire in finding a mover to get my belongings from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco was that it happen in a timely manner (since I travel so frequently) and with as little effort on my part as possible. I wanted to not have to worry about a thing—hence why I chose to pay a 20 percent premium for a full-service, door-to-door mover.

Since signing with World Moving Service, I have had nothing but poor service, a lack of quality control, unresponsiveness, hidden charges, and worse than anything else, delay after delay after delay in scheduling my delivery. In fact, I’ve resorted to calling it the B.S. Company (that would be the Bait-and-Switch Company).

The thing is, I’m a firm believer in quality customer service and positive word-of-mouth. It’s what keeps me coming back again and again to companies such as United Airlines, Apple, ModCloth, even my current property management firm.

Here’s the problem with relying on such nebulous consumer feedback: Right now, I will tell anyone who will listen about the Byzantine, bureaucratic firm that is holding my furniture hostage somewhere in Idaho. I do not, however, regale friends with stories about the wonderful folks at American Express or the helpful Avis agent. If I’m happy, I’m not proclaiming it. But if I’m ticked off, everyone in my circle knows.

And therein lies both the power—and the problem—of dealing with customers on a daily basis. When the Average Joe (or Jane) is happy, everything moves ahead in merry oblivion. In fact, we only ever complain when something goes wrong. But when we feel mistreated, we complain. Loudly. To everyone. Everywhere. With a vengeance.

In the apartment world, that sometimes means scathing reviews on websites such as Yelp or It sometimes means residents planting themselves in front of the management office until they get what they feel is fair.

Sure, there are some companies (like World Moving Service) who couldn’t care less if their customers are happy. But in the apartment industry, I’ve found that most professional management firms generally want their residents to be satisfied with the service they receive. After all, happy residents = smooth renewals = cash in hand. It makes good business sense to go above and beyond.

Right now, the market is facing an interesting dynamic. The housing balance is beginning to shift ever so slightly toward rentals, as homeownership levels drop from their record highs of the past few years. (For more on this shift, see “Tipping the Balance” by Les Shaver on page 32.) In the meantime, apartment owners are reporting rising rents and shrinking concessions. And demographers keep predicting that an influx of renters will be arriving in droves at multifamily’s doorstep over the next three to five years.

All of these signs of growing demand mean that companies will have to do whatever they can to stand out from their competition. Fantastic customer service can’t be overrated. In fact, it should be the cornerstone of any department that interacts with customers, whether you are dealing with a leasing manager or an accountant.

And it really is not hard. Treat people fairly. Be courteous and upfront. Don’t lie. And try to do the right thing. It’s quite simply, the Golden Rule.

I only wish World Moving Service had gotten that memo.