You’ve all had it happen – that dreaded moment when you sign into your apartment community’s Yelp or Facebook account only to see a notification that a seething review came in. Instead of panicking over how to respond to this review, just take a step back, regroup, and refocus your perspective on dealing with these negative reviews. A negative review, with the right reputation management, can be easily turned into a positive and is a great opportunity to highlight your leasing team’s excellent customer service. With that said, you will have no problem turning that negative into a positive by being mindful of four important things. Are you ready to become a rock star in reputation management for multifamily? Good.
As the saying goes, you only have once chance to make a good first impression, and in today’s tech-driven culture, people rely heavily on search engines and digital outlets when searching for an apartment home. Long gone are the days when it wasn’t necessary for an apartment community to have an online presence. Instead, it’s imperative that your community’s online presence is there and is actively maintained. From Google Plus to Apartment Ratings, future residents will scour the Internet to find out what other people are saying about you. But it doesn’t stop there. Even Apple Maps displays star ratings from Yelp when the address is searched. You can’t escape it!
So, when future residents are doing their research, they are paying attention to a community’s reputation, and more importantly, if and how management responds. They want to see if you’re listening, acknowledging issues, and offering reasonable solutions. Of course, negative reviews can be extreme and outlandish, but it is still vital that you’re addressing what you can. These reviews give insight into what it can be like to live at your apartment community and people do want a management team that cares and looks out for its residents. Understandably, responding to negative reviews can be a daunting and time-consuming task, which is why you can always call on GTMA.
In addition to creating a positive first impression for prospects, effectively responding to a negative review contributes to retaining the resident that wrote the review. When you respond, you want to do so in a way that appeases the reviewer by addressing their concerns in an empathetic way. Your response should work to turn a disgruntled resident into a happy one with the goal of getting them to update the review to a higher rating. If done properly, they will happily update their negative review to a positive one. Of course, this means that you actually have to work to address and resolve the issues at hand. There also is no shame in asking them to update their review, but it’s best to do that in person or in a private message. The ultimate goal in resident retention is having them love living at your community so much that they’ll want to spread that love to their friends.
Let’s face it: positive word-of-mouth from friends is the ultimate stamp of approval. Prospects will trust their friend’s opinion of your community over any reviews they may see online, which is why it’s essential to keep current residents happy. Yelp prioritizes reviews from your Yelp and Facebook friends on the page, and Facebook actually surfaces reviews from friends as stories in the newsfeed. In order to capitalize on word-of-mouth promotion, it’s helpful to offer referral incentives for residents that are willing to say good things about you. Feel free to advertise these incentives not only at the community, but also online on various social media outlets.
At the end of the day, it’s all about customer service. If great customer service is not exhibited in every step of reputation management, your efforts will be a lot less successful. You already provide exceptional service in the office, and taking that approach online is no different. You want to make a reviewer feel like you want to sincerely fix the problem, because you do, right? Just make sure that the tone in a review response is not aggressive or combative because that will only make the reviewer more upset. So, play nice!
I know that managing online reputations is no easy feat, but just work this GTMA-approved approach into your strategy and I’m confident you can build a successful online network of positivity.
I’d love to hear your own customer service stories involving Yelp, G+, Facebook, or Apartment Ratings, so drop them in the comments below or on Twitter at @GoToMyApartment. Thanks for reading!