A world-renowned expert in customer and employee experience, leadership, and building experience-based brands, Antonia J.A. Hock will dive into why smart branding is critical for the multifamily industry at the upcoming MFE Conference, Sept. 26 to 28, in Dallas.

Hock, whose career is rooted in delivering customer-centric service models for companies of all sizes, implementing game-changing employee culture, and innovating customer experiences, will bring her high-energy and bold style to the keynote presentation Sept. 26.

Prior to founding Antonia J.A. Hock & Associates as an international consulting firm, she spent six years as the global head of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. For the two decades prior to that, Hock held executive positions for several tech giants, including Microsoft, HP, and Siemens.

During the keynote, Hock will explore what consumers want, how brands can stand out, and how experience, culture, and service converge to deliver more referrals, renewals, and higher occupancy.

MFE caught up with her to discuss the importance of brand building and some of her takeaways on the multifamily industry.

MFE: Where is the first place a multifamily firm should start to build its brand?

Hock: Brand building starts with an authentic commitment to your mission and vision. A great place to start is to ensure that you have a highly differentiated vision for your firm and that you have built a culture that supports that vision. I see many firms that have a vision for themselves, but that doesn’t pull through to the culture that they have for their employees, nor the service that they actually deliver to their customers. Nothing erodes a brand faster than a set of messages in the market that just don’t match the reality of the experience. Customers will be “one and done” when they discover that your brand promises are hollow.

MFE: How do you help your clients differentiate themselves with their brand?

Hock: We start by gaining a deep understanding of your current state. What part of the market do you serve? How are you delivering against your brand promises today? What do customers and employees say about your product, service, and their experiences with your brand? Once we understand your current state, we work with key stakeholders to craft a set of brand promises that align to your goals and the customers you want to serve. Next, we operationalize those concepts, so they can be delivered consistently. Once you have a point of view that is unique to your firm, you have employees that can passionately deliver against those promises, and you delight your customers with exceptional experiences, you’ll have a platform for growth across your brand.

MFE: What has surprised you most in your work with multifamily organizations?

Hock: Multifamily organizations have customers that are right at the tip of the spear when it comes to expecting exceptional experiences and world-class service! These are some of the most demanding customers in the housing market. Multifamily organizations have to lead from the front with their innovation, impeccable service, and creative, consistent, delightful experiences—or risk losing their customers to other firms. This is a highly competitive space where customers have relatively low switching costs, so they will leave you quickly if you deliver less than excellence or break your brand promises.