Everyone in multifamily should know by now that reviews matter. Anywhere from 67 to 90 percent of consumers look at reviews before making a purchase decision. And according to the online marketing pros over at Google, responding to reviews helps build trust.
But while responding to praise is easy, responding to criticism takes a little more finesse.
How should we go about handling negative apartment reviews that paint our communities in a bad light? We put together the following best practices for negative review response to show you the way.
How To Respond To Valid Bad Reviews
Mistakes happen. And when your customers literally live with you (and you’re you’re responsible for hundreds or thousands of them each day) they can happen often. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to remedy most of these mistakes – or even turn them into a positive – if you handle them correctly.
Next time a resident leaves you a bad apartment review for a valid reason, follow these steps:
Apologize – Begin your response by offering a sincere apology. This in itself can go a long way.
Recognize The Problem – Acknowledge that the complaint is valid, but also include a summary of the events to lend context or fill in some missing details. Perhaps a maintenance request took longer than expected because your maintenance man/woman called out sick. Perhaps snow removal was delayed because a third party contractor fell behind schedule. Whatever the situation that led to the complaint may have been, explain it thoroughly so that the resident and future readers have a full understanding of all events. Be careful not to sound combative or as though you’re making excuses for yourself or your staff.
Offer A Solution – After you’ve taken ownership of the mistake, explain how you’ll work to fix the issue so that it does not happen again. Ask the reviewer if they have any suggestions regarding prevention. Then ask if there is any way for you to compensate them. Please note that you may want to discuss compensation details offline. The last thing you want to do is incentivize the creation of bad reviews!
How To Respond To Invalid Bad Reviews
It’s no secret that people lie on Internet. And if you’ve worked in apartment reputation management or the multifamily industry in general for a short period of time, you’ve likely come across your fair share of inaccurate or flat-out slanderous reviews. Luckily, these reviews are even easier to deal with than your valid variety when you keep your cool and don’t don’t don’t stoop to the reviewer’s level.
If you find yourself victimized by bad online reviews, remember the strategy below:
Do Not Apologize – Apologies are a recognition of guilt. You don’t need to extend that courtesy to someone who spreads lies about you or community. It creates mixed messaging that will cloud the narrative for future review readers. If you feel you must apologize, offer something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Call Them Out – Follow the tips outlined in the “Recognize the Problem” step above without actually recognizing a problem. Explain the course of events. Lend context and include all details. Offer proof of your side of the story if you have it. For example, if you collected a security deposit because a previous tenant damaged his or her old unit, provide pictures of the damages. Future review readers can usually spot when someone is being unfair, but it never hurts to sway them in your favor with a little visual evidence.
Defend Your Staff From Personal Attacks – As petty as it is, it’s not uncommon for negative reviewers to personally insult you or your staff in their reviews. This is unacceptable, particularly when coming from someone old enough to rent an apartment. Your response should acknowledge the remarks with a simple line such as “I’m not sure why you need to personally insult me/my staff regarding [issue at hand].” If you’re the type of person to quickly lose your temper when personally insulted, maybe consider using our apartment review response service to respond on your behalf.
How To Respond To Text-less Reviews
Facebook recently ditched their text review feature for a star-based system that leaves little room for explanation. It’s also far from rare for people to forgo a written explanation for their ratings on review platforms where text is allowed.
In these situations, the best response is one that mirrors that of the original review. For positive ratings, a “Thank you for your stellar review” will do just fine. For negative ratings, a “Sorry you were dissatisfied” will work. Note that not all platforms that allow star ratings allow text responses.