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Blog Image December 04, 2018

The Four Things Every Manager Needs to Know About Responding to Apartment Reviews

What property manager hasn’t experienced the soul crushing feeling you get when upper management forwards a link to an online review that makes Vlad the Impaler seem more empathetic than your staff and a dumpster seem more appealing than your apartment community? It’s unanimous that a bad apartment review is the bane of every property manager’s existence.

Fortunately, you’re not alone in your quest for viable solutions to pesky apartment ratings. J Turner Research recently published a study on the subject, which surveyed over 39,000 residents across 845 properties. Unsurprisingly enough, respondents rated the importance of the online reputation high on a 10-point scale.

A few findings from their study stood out to our team during a recent group discussion on the topic:

  • There is a positive correlation between online reputation and residents who report being satisfied with their experience at the apartment community. This indicates that properties with higher resident satisfaction enjoy a better online reputation.
  • Manager responses yield considerable influence on resident perceptions. More than two-thirds of conventional residents pay attention to responses from management while researching apartments online.
  • Residents reject depersonalized, cookie-cutter responses. Their top three expectations from a manager's response are commitment to resolve the issue, authentic and customized verbiage, and the right attitude.
  • It pays to proactively reach out to residents for reviews. Overall, 26 percent of those surveyed indicated leaving a positive review for the rental property they reside at, and almost half of them admitted to posting the review upon being asked to do so.

Given the data, apartment ratings certainly cannot be ignored or pushed aside due to an already-full workload. As much as management teams dislike dealing with online reviews, they have become an integral part of our industry, and when handled correctly, they can become a valuable marketing tool as well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when addressing apartment reviews.

An Ounce of Prevention

Why respond to negative reviews if you don’t have to? Sure, it may seem like an idealized concept, but with good customer service, it is possible to dodge the very reviews you are hoping to avoid. It all begins with a little employee appreciation.

If your team members feel recognized for a job well done, it can increase overall morale, fueling your staff with a sense of pride in the service they provide at your community. This will go a long way in preventing a bad apartment review from arising in the first place. Remember, it’s proven that properties with higher resident satisfaction have a better online reputation. The chicken didn’t come before the egg, and neither did a good online reputation before the well-managed property.

Being Forewarned is Being Forearmed

Despite your best attempts, you’ll never be able to fully prevent unfavorable apartment ratings from trickling their way into your online channels. So, when they inevitably surface, be prepared to address the issue head-on. A good rule of thumb is to stay on top of responding to reviews as soon as possible, so that you may ward off any negative publicity at the outset.

When you decide to address the issue, be sure to mention in your response how you were able to resolve the resident’s concern. It’s a given that no one is perfect, of course, but if you can prove that you nipped the problem in the bud, then it becomes a non-issue for the resident. Your response may even prompt them to edit their negative review entirely. Hey, we’ve seen it done time and time again!

Respond with Solutions

So, now that the inevitable has occurred, you’re wondering how to respond to a negative review. While a daunting task lays ahead, it is possible to turn things around in your favor – as long as you reply to it in the same way that you would respond to good reviews. While it’s true that we live in an age where online reviews are the holy grail of feedback, we’ve also maintained the understanding that a seemingly picture-perfect image is unrealistic, and worse, completely inauthentic.

Instead of reaching for unattainable perfection, be transparent in your response: take accountability when apologizing, formulate a structured plan of action to resolve the issue, and display your sense of commitment of following through with your proposed strategy — all while avoiding a detached, uniform response. And whatever you do, avoid any sense of defensiveness, anger, or hurt from the original comment. If you are able, just bring the issue to a controlled and accommodating solution in the most efficient way possible.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

When you need a little pick-me-up in the online review world, it’s never bad idea to call on those who already advocate your apartment community, whether it’d be verbal or otherwise. Happy residents are generally willing to grant you with a favorable online review, especially if you have provided top-notch customer service to them in the past. But, where should you begin in soliciting reviews without seeming too desperate?

Some put reminders up around their leasing office to encourage follows and engagement, while others provide paper handouts. It can even be as easy as asking politely after a compliment given to you by a resident in-person. If a resident truly enjoys living in your community, they won’t mind devoting a few minutes of their day to singing your praises online.

Apartment ratings and reviews are a fundamental aspect of modern apartment marketing, and whether the critique is good, bad, or indifferent, it will somehow find a place in the digital ecosystem of your community. While we can’t guarantee that adhering to these suggestions will eliminate all traces of negative feedback, keeping these four principles in mind will certainly help you conquer your apprehension when it comes to responding to online ratings and reviews.

About The Author

Jimmy Lancaster is one of the most well-known engineers on the Silicon Bayou, specializing in custom software development. He is the Chief Product Officer of 365 Connect, the leader in delivering the world's most sophisticated automated marketing, leasing, and resident engagement platform for multifamily communities across the globe.

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