If you haven’t heard of the mind boggling and slightly dreaded app, Peeple, you may want to look up the Washington Post’s article that hit online stands in late September. This article and several other contributing bloggers ate up this app and dissected every potential possibility we could find ourselves faced with in just a few months (Peeple launches in November).
Here’s the scoop—Peeple allows people to rate past and current experiences involving you. Think of your life like a restaurant featured on Yelp. If someone really enjoyed hanging out with you, or loved working with you professionally, you will get a stellar 5 star review. Great! But, like a restaurant, if you are not on your A-game and people have a not so pleasant experience with you, you are going to receive a review that may ruin your day… probably your week. And your future job opportunities.
The other thing is Peeple will not let you opt-out of being rated. All a person needs is your phone number. Hmmm… I wonder what those ex-boyfriends have to say about me five years later? Or for all you multifamily folks, I wonder what your residents have to say about your leasing agents or property managers?
Have you ever had a resident frustrated about a broken AC unit and then they couldn’t reach your leasing agent? Or what about those people who may have received noise complaint notices or, even worse, eviction notices? What about them? Disgruntled acquaintances rating the very people who represent your company is a future possibility we must be prepared to face. Remember, all it takes is a phone number and some form of relation (personal, professional, or romantic) and you’ve got yourself a Peeple rating.
So, reviews are not going away. Instead, they are becoming the fabric of our society. We are assigning numerical values to everything, from food to the very people we interact with on a daily basis. Whether you think this is wrong or right, we have to approach the situation with as much education and background information as possible.
Here are some recommendations for those of you trying to develop a strong reputation mangement strategy:
- Find a software that will aggregate all your online reviews into one place so you can see what people are saying about your properties. If this is not possible, take some time to check your reputation on top online review sites in your region of the world. Don’t forget social media as an online review outlet. Check what people are saying on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
- Once you know where you are being reviewed, assess the most recent reviews (go back to no more than 2 years – unless management has not changed in a long, long time).
- Respond to negative reviews. Tell people what you are doing on your properties to fix specific problems. Show them that you care, and do not get defensive. Simply state your regret for their poor experience and state how you will do everything to make it better. If someone is being negative for the sake of being negative and spreading bad reviews everywhere, call the online review company and see how they can help fix the situation.
- Respond to positive reviews. Thank people for taking the time to talk about how awesome you are on the internet. That’s pretty cool. Someone took time out of their day to talk about your apartment community and its greatness – say thanks and it might go a long way.
- Finally, negative and positive reviews will take their course. In most cases, you could be the perfect, most flawless property ever, and someone will find something wrong. But, the good news is, people will find it less sketchy than a site saying only positive things. That just doesn’t look natural. We all have flaws.
Try out these strategies and see if you get a boost in your ratings. Entrata conducted an in-depth reputation management survey with property management companies and multifamily residents earlier this year. The results are coming soon, so keep an eye out for them! You can also hear about the findings from the 2015 Summit session recap which featured well-known online review companies.
I don’t know what the future holds for us individuals regarding online reviews. Hopefully, if Peeple becomes the next “made-you-look” app with immense success, let’s keep our fingers crossed that humanity is a little forgiving and still willing to find the good in people. Hey, we’re all human, right?