Reasons why managing ApartmentRatings.com is no longer optional

Mention ApartmentRatings.com to a crowded room of multifamily people and you’ll clear it faster than I can while presenting a Powerpoint. We despise this site, loath it. The anonymous posts, the drunken rants, the vile tongue lashings, the terrible misspellings and sentence structure, and the truth. Hey wait, did I say truth? Yes.. but I’ll get to that part later.

People are crazy. Embrace it.

People are crazy
When people mouth off online they do it for a reason. Some people have stopped taking their medications and others do it because your business has affected them in some way. It’s the second part that’s worth talking about. First, let’s debunk this statement:

Only unhappy people post reviews.

According to a survey commissioned by Forrester on behalf of TripAdvisor “The number one reason travelers cite for writing a hotel review is to “share a good experience with other travelers.” People want to tell others about the fun they’ve had or the good experiences they’ve shared. It’s like the east coast earthquake from this week. Did you notice how many Tweets or Facebook posts sounded like this:

“Hey did you feel that?”

“Yeah I felt that!”

“So did I!”

People feel validated when they’ve all shared the same experiences.

High percentage of reviews on Apartmentratings.com are bad.

We all know of course that not every review is good. In fact, just perusing around ApartmentRatings.com presents a ton of bad review examples. So what can we do about it? In the same survey I mentioned above, this compelling point was made: “…71% said that seeing a management response to reviews by an official hotel representative is important to them.” How many of you respond to reviews as the management company? Here’s the final point to drive home: “Sixty-eight percent of travelers said that if they were considering two comparable properties, the presence of management responses on one would sway them in its favor.” That’s the holy grail.

I found some more data that I want to share. In The Retail Consumer Report survey that was done over the holidays in 2010, they found that 68% of the people who posted a complaint on a social network or ratings site, got a response from the retailer about it. Because the business responded, they were able to get 18% of those people to buy from them again! Out of those people who received a response 33% turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. Folks that is compelling data. You can see that staying silent and pretending this conversation isn’t taking place out there is not the right strategy today.

Let’s focus in on the bigger picture here.

Start listening to your customers
Are you a Company A or a Company B? Company A wants to hear what their residents have to say. Company B doesn’t. Company A listens to social media channels and has a corporate culture which empowers employees to solve problems, respond appropriately to their residents, and listen for pain points. Company B is afraid. I blogged about this very phenomenon recently.

If you’re having problems with your ApartmentRatings.com ratings, then there’s something wrong with your product. Behind the vicious rants are some underlying themes that represent problems you can fix:

“People often speed through the property.”

“People are always hanging around outside drinking.”

“The office staff is mean.”

These are the things companies find it hard to face. The truth. The truth isn’t always pleasant but you’ll never know if customers are unhappy if you don’t ask or listen. If someone posts anything whether it’s good or bad, you must thank them. Why? They cared enough to tell you; now do something with it. At the end of the day, people want to feel that the management company is concerned about their needs. They pay a large portion of their monthly salary to you. Fix your product, show empathy when things don’t go right, give them great customer service and your bad reviews on ApartmentRatings will go down.

“People will post, Ray”

When people have positive experiences they will tell others. Of those people surveyed over the holiday season who had a positive experience: “21% recommended the retailer to friends. 13% posted a positive online review about the retailer.” I don’t want to hear “Bill, these surveys you found aren’t for our industry.” That’s a Company B thought. Stop that.

I’m hoping this evidence is compelling enough to make you realize that you need to respond and engage your current customers. Turning them from a brand detractor to a brand advocate is your goal here. Next post, I’ll give you some customer service and response tips to help you do just that.

Updated! Here’s that new post.

bsitko

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