It’s easy to forget about online reviews with so many property management tasks vying for your attention, but to do so would be a mistake. Online reviews matter. In fact, roughly 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, 68 percent of people form an opinion on a particular product or service after reading just six reviews.
With that in mind, we put together the following three step process to make your apartment reputation management strategy a winning one. Check it out below to improve how your community looks online.
Step 1: Monitor Relevant Review Sites
Tracking reviews is the first step of apartment online reputation management. After all, you can’t control how your community is perceived online without having an up to date understanding of what your prospects see in their own research.
Although the number of Internet review sites is constantly growing, there are three main types of sites that you should monitor. Apartment-related sites are the first, and include sites like ApartmentRatings.com and Internet Listing Services like Apartments.com. Social media sites are the second review source that should be on your radar, and include popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter. General review sites, such as Yelp, are the third group, and carry significant influence despite often being more associated with restaurants and other service businesses than they are with apartment homes.
Note that you don’t have to manually monitor all of these sites each and every day. A far easier (and more efficient) way to keep your finger on the pulse of incoming reviews is to establish alerts via software. Respage Social Media Services, for example, empower you with a tool that scans the web hourly for any mention of your community and notifies you of any new post or review. This can save you both time and resources, allowing you to dedicate your energy to helping your residents.
Step 2: Respond to All Reviews
Once you have established a system for discovering and tracking reviews, you’ll need to create a strategy for responding to said reviews.
As simple as this may seem, make no mistake that it can be a difficult task. It’s far from uncommon for reviews to cross into personal territory. And it’s hard to keep your cool when you, or a colleague, feels insulted. However, it is absolutely critical that you do so, as yelling at a resident online will never look good on your part.
On the occasions when you do find your community criticized by a bad review, always make sure that your response is professional, articulate, and – most importantly – polite. If the review accurately reflects a problem at your property or a mistake made by your staff, treat the review as a positive criticism that could help you improve your community and apologetically explain the situation in your response so that the reviewer and future readers can see both sides of the story. If the review contains falsehoods, personal attacks, or ugly language, politely lay out the course of events from your perspective and point out the review’s inaccuracies; future readers will usually read between the lines in such situations and look favorably on your reply if it seems calm and reasonable.
We should mention that combating negative reviews shouldn’t be the only part of your apartment reputation strategy. Responding to positive reviews is equally important. If someone takes the time to give your property a glowing review, the least you can do is return the favor by thanking them and maybe giving them a few compliments regarding their residency. You could also consider taking it one step further by sending a small gift to their unit.
Step 3: Encourage Residents to Leave Reviews After a Positive Experience
Responding to positive reviews is one thing. Encouraging their generation is something else entirely, and it’s also the third step in apartment reputation management.
Let’s start with a small disclaimer that several online review platforms look disfavorably on companies that solicit reviews through incentives. To comply with these policies, it’s recommended that you never offer deals or prizes to people who leave you a positive review on Yelp or other platforms. Encouraging residents to leave you a review after a positive experience is a better plan of action, not only because it complies with review site guidelines, but also because it guarantees a more authentic response.
So what kind of positive experiences are good for generating positive reviews? Simple. Everyday actions like fulfilling maintenance requests, assisting residents with lost keys, and any other incident in which your assistance is helpful are all great opportunities for positive review generation. Just make sure that you ask for the review after the task is completed (correctly and in a timely manner) before making the request. It’s also important that you ask for a simple review, rather than explicitly asking for a positive review, and that your request is not too pushy. Slipping a review form under their door or sending a form in an email are two low-key ways to make review requests.
Other Online Reputation Management Ideas
For more information about reputation and review management, check out the reputation management section of our blog.