Leiterin des Sevice-Centers bei der Gewobag. Sie lächelt direkt in die Kamera. Sie trägt ein rosanes Oberteil, hat eine weiße Uhr um und trägt Ohrringe.

Head of the Service Center: My work at Gewobag

Maike Stephan is the Head of the Gewobag Service-Center. This is where all the questions, concerns and complaints of more than 120,000 tenants arrive.

As a project manager, she implemented one of Gewobag’s most important digitalisation projects: the service app. Here she tells us about the challenges and what her daily work involves.

Maike Stephan, Head of the Service-Center, “We have learned a lot!”

The phone rings, the headset is activated, a message flashes on the screen: Welcome to the Gewobag Service-Center! There’s never a dull moment here. I have worked here as a manager for more than six years. But I have been with Gewobag for much longer, since 1996. This is where I did my training as a real estate management assistant, where I worked in different departments and am now responsible for one of the most important projects as far as digitalisation is concerned, the service app.

The daily routine in the Service-Center: phone, listen and help. Photo: Maren Schulz

What I am really proud of? Our teamwork! We are a team of 30 employees, who take care of the concerns of more than 120,000 tenants. So there’s lots to do here. And it is always interesting. Because we deal with people every day. And people are different, as are their concerns: Sometimes the lift is not working, sometimes the rent hasn’t been transferred correctly, and sometimes the neighbour is too loud. The questions range from: How do I contact my caretaker? Where do I have to send something? to: My neighbour doesn’t greet me!

One of the 30 employees of the Service-Center team.
One of the 30 employees of the Service-Center team. Photo: Maren Schulz

We receive all these concerns, in all kinds of different ways: As a phone call, an email, by post, some also send a fax and another uses our service app. In our team, it is therefore important to be able to adjust quickly to the different situation.

The topics in the service center are diverse

For example, one moment an eighty-year old tenant calls to ask whether her rent has arrived and needs someone to talk to. And the next call is a young father who is upset, because the heating isn’t working, it’s cold outside and he maybe still has a small child at home. Or somebody phones because they have got problems paying their rent on time.

These are very different situations, which require particular tact and sensitivity. We have to be empathetic and flexible at all times. That is our job and it is not easy. But I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

This is why we offer all our employees phone training when they join us. So that they know how to reach out to people. We have to be able to control their emotions, to find a solution objectively, on a factual level. For example, if the lift isn’t working, we offer a shopping service for food.

Maike Stephan, Head of the Service-Center.
Maike Stephan, Head of the Service-Center. Photo: Maren Schulz

What unites all of us here in the Service-Center: We like working with people. We want to help. We take care of things.

I have been with Gewobag for over twenty years, I have lived through different situations and, for example, I was involved in setting up our service centre. One thing is clear to me: It makes sense to involve employees in important decisions. That is why, for example, we developed the shift plan together, so that it suits everyone as well as possible, and especially those with families.

Technically, we want to be always up-to-date, to make the work easier for our staff wherever we can. And if the number of tenants grows, for example, due to new build or acquisitions, then we in the service department also grow. That is also good for everyone involved.

The service center is going digital

What pleases me a lot is that we move with the times. Since 16/12/2019, we have also had the service app, with which our tenants can also contact us. Managing this project was a major challenge, as the app is “new territory” for us all. We have learned a lot!

Initially it means investigating and getting an overview: What about data protection and a privacy policy? Who are the reliable providers in this sector? What can one do, what do the others offer? And above all: Which provider suits us best? It was also important not to rush into things, just so that we could say: We were the first to have a service app.

The service app went live on 16/12/2019. Photo: Maren Schulz

We are now pleased with the result: Our service app is structured in a simple and easy to understand way, it was tested for several months with different tenants and has now been accessible to all tenants since mid-December 2019. With the app they can now enter damage reports, find out the status of their concern or view documents. From the view of the Service-Center, I can now say: We have arrived in the digital age and are really glad to be there.

The digital age aside. After work, it is important to be able to switch off. That is why I put my mobile on the cupboard in the hallway as soon as I get home, and it stays there. Then I switch off. One way I particularly like to do that is by going horse riding.

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