Responding to Online Apartment Reviews: The Smoke Signals of the Internet Age
One of the oldest forms of long-distance communication, smoke signals, have been used to transmit news, signal danger, and gather people to a common area. These signals were created to indicate “all is well” or “danger” or “beware.”
These days, online apartment ratings and reviews could be considered the Internet version of the smoke signal. Much like their Wild West counterpart, online apartment review sites allow current and former residents to send out communications that essentially say “all is well” or “danger” or “beware.” But instead of using a fire to send messages, these new smoke signals usually start one in the leasing office and can easily burn your brand’s online reputation.
The 3 Most Important Signals for Apartment Review Responses
But what’s great about today’s smoke signals is that property management teams have the opportunity to fire off their own messages to quickly address any issues. To strengthen your online reputation, every response to a negative review should signal these three messages:
- The property management team is responsive and dependable
- The property management team is committed to service
- The main goal of the property management team is a resolution
The Property Management Team is Responsive and Dependable
That’s an easy one – simply respond to EVERY review. Select someone on your team who can periodically check your email inbox for notifications of postings, monitor your review sites, and stay on top of postings made about your community. ApartmentRatings Manager Center and Google Alerts are just a couple of the tools you can use to alert you when reviews are posted. Additionally, creating a culture of responsiveness can help your team be more efficient. For example, establish a deadline for responding to posts (i.e., all posts must be responded to within one business day).
The Property Management Team is Committed to Service
During your team meetings, share with your team the latest reviews posted about your community. Is there a common theme? What are residents complaining about and also praising you for? Oftentimes, only the manager reads the apartment reviews and it is essential that every team member understands what is being said and how everyone plays a part in securing your online reputation.
When talking about reviews, ask the team what they could have done to avoid the situation from happening in the first place and what they can do to make sure it never happens again. Personalize your responses with specifics such as: “Our Lead Service Tech will be at your apartment home before 3 p.m. today to personally repair your dishwasher.”
The Main Goal of the Property Management Team is a Resolution
When it comes to online reviews, do you respond or react? It’s hard to avoid reacting to negative apartment reviews but it’s important to understand that residents post negative reviews AFTER attempts have been made to resolve their issues directly with you.
Positive and negative reviews are the beginning of a dialogue and the goal here is to continue the conversation offline. When leaving a response, try to present a resolution:
“Thank you for bringing to our attention the problems with trash piling up at the dumpster over the weekend. We have added a Monday morning pick up to the schedule and expect this problem to improve. Please contact me directly should you have any suggestions for further improvement.
It never hurts to ask the reviewer to post another update, this time confirming how much better the situation has become.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: The Golden Rule of Reputation Management
Unlike the fading smoke from yesteryear’s signals, online apartment reviews and your responses will be read by others for years to come. So you can’t ignore or simply blow smoke at the reviewer. This is the golden rule of online reputation management: respond strategically to negative reviews. Take advantage of the opportunity to promote your community, the commitment to service by your property management team, and all of the good that occurs on the property every day. This is your chance to not only address the complaint, but to light a fire of interest for potential apartment hunters.