Write an article about ApartmentRatings and the conversation will get heated in no time. People are passionately for or against responding. For this follow up post I wanted to dig deep and see how other companies are handling their ApartmentRatings. I gained lots of insights but the one thing I found myself doing more than anything was laughing out loud… a lot.
Some of these ApartmentRatings reviews are funny.
Some of the reviews and even titles are hilarious:
“wore-out, cockroaches, and take advantage”
“Worst apartment every lived in”
“It’s Like Living In a Horror Movie But It Never Ends”
Who knew people were this funny? Alright seriously.. let’s get to it. Here are some tips for responding, trying not to laugh, and when to say enough is enough:
1] Stop writing fake reviews.
This first point goes out to those management companies that are doing it. People who post and read these reviews can spot them a mile away. It makes things worse. Stop.
2] Claim your listings and respond as the manager.
This is controversial because it costs money to do so. Some people call it extortion but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. When you respond as the manager, it shows you’re active and listening, which in turn will keep your slanderous negative reviews down. People will be less inclined to post, anonymous or not, if they know you’ll call them out.
3] Respond in real, non corporate language.
Avoid discussing policies, stop using stuffy words and don’t use corporate speak.
Them: “I don’t understand why I didn’t get my fee back.”
Us: “You signed the 60 day notice to vacate which is corporate policy but then you recinded the notice by providing a reneg fee prior to the lease renewal. Now you’re a DNR.”
When you respond, it’s good practice to visualize the resident standing in front of you because it keeps your language more real. Your resident is a human being and so are you. Act like it. I’m sure your leasing agents don’t “desire to facilitate by using a proper action” but rather you probably just want them to “help”.
4] Respond to reviews as soon as possible.
When you see that a new review has been posted, go in and respond quickly. Allowing negative comments to sit out there and fester without a response, only gives people incentive to post more.
5] The customer is always right…even if you think they aren’t.
Make sure you listen to what the resident has to say, be thankful, look at things from their viewpoint, respond to their concerns and be professional. Do not get defensive in your response and don’t give them a list of all the things they should’ve done.
6] Take the rest of the conversation offline.
Getting into a debate on ApartmentRatings.com with a resident will solve nothing and instead will make it worse. Tell them that you’re pleased they’ve posted a review and that you’d love them to email you at ratingsAreApain@hotmail.com to continue the dialog. Once you’ve solved their problem through offline channels, ask them (assuming things went well) to respond to their initial review that they were satisfied.
7] Give them a call to action.
Give the respondent something to do for a resolution. Should they email you, call the office, or watch paint dry? Put a call of action in your response that tells them what to do to get their problems and concerns resolved.
8] If you say you’re going to do A, B, and C … do it.
…and let them see you do it. Be consistent. If you tell them that something will be done then you’re on the hook to get it done. Once you do it, put up posters in the office telling people you’ve fixed it, make sure the agents tell everyone about it when they pay rent, and post something on your online portal. Live up to people’s expectations and then brag that you did so.
9] Remove offensive reviews.
No this doesn’t mean remove ones out of spite that scored a 1 but if someone posts a review with someone’s name or slanders a member of your staff you can apply to have those reviews removed. No one should feel threatened on this site.
10] Know when to fold.
What happens if you post a professional response with a reasonable action item that deals with their complaints and yet other people end up posting negative responses to it? In this case, I would suggest letting it go. People viewing these reviews can see your response and make up their own mind whether or not the people responding after you are just drinking sour grapes. If you’ve addressed their concerns, given a call to action and did what you said you were going to, then there’s nothing to worry about.
You want residents to post on ApartmentRatings.com
Repeat after me: “You want residents to post to ApartmentRatings.com”. Keep saying it over and over in your head until saying it doesn’t drive you mad anymore. Residents that tell you your faults are so important to improving your ratings and your product. Listen to them.
Up until now I’ve only focused on ApartmentRatings.com. I’d like to pull the conversation out to get you to see the bigger picture. ApartmentRatings is only one of the sites you should be managing. Most of these tips I gave you are applicable to all social media and ratings sites. Learn how to effectively use all of these great channels for brand and reputation management because chances are people are talking about you there too.
Conclusion and one last lesson…
I’ll leave you with this last response and it speaks to the heart of the entire debate:
This response was on a negative review which went unanswered by the management company. Be honest with yourself by asking if this response could’ve been avoided with a timely, professional and effective response from them. All that money spent on advertising, branding, and teaching effective sales techniques and they threw it all away. What a waste…
Happy renting everyone.
Thanks to Flickr for the image.