Smart web marketers know that online customer reviews can make or break a business; the multifamily housing industry is no exception. You don’t need to be an industry professional to know that. When people are shopping around for a place to live, reviews can be the difference between one community and another.
But what do you do about negative reviews? Even the most efficiently run communities, with the most advanced property management systems, will get a negative review at one point or another. You might not know how to respond. Furthermore, between Angieslist, ApartmentRatings, Yelp, and the myriad of other online review sites, it can be tempting for property managers to ignore them altogether, and simply hope for the best. But we can’t.
Something as simple as responding to a negative review with a sympathetic tone can go a long way to repair your image in the eyes of a customer. And, with Google’s recent update to Places for Business, it’s easier than ever to keep track of what people are saying about your community and respond appropriately.
Late last month, Google began rolling-out updates to the Places for Business dashboard that allows business owners to respond directly to reviews from Google users. This feature is available through the Review Inbox – a recent addition to your Places dashboard. These responses are visible to the public, giving you another way to show customers the grace with which you (hopefully) handle customer feedback.
A few quick tips for responding to apartment ratings:
Respond to positive reviews with enthusiasm and gratitude. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to show the commenter, and others reading their review, that you take customer feedback seriously and have the initiative to remedy reported issues.
Not only are your Google reviews displayed in a clean, digestible format; they pull your other reviews from sites across the web, allowing you to see where reviews are coming from. Although you can’t respond to other sites’ reviews through the review inbox (like you can with Google’s reviews) you can see which site each review was posted to. This can be particularly helpful for identifying, and marketing to, demographics that are more likely to come in and sign a lease.
Need a quick summary of your review information for a property? Go to the “Review Analytics” tab, and you’ll have a snapshot of key reviews metrics. Total reviews are displayed and graphed according to source, and the average rating is shown alongside a breakdown of reviews per rating (one-star, two-star, etc.). The stylized graphs make a great addition to any year-end performance review.
One thing to note: This update applies to the Places for Business dashboard. This is not to be confused with the Google Plus dashboard. While the two platforms often communicate with one another in various ways, their functionality is still very different. In order to access the reviews inbox, you should to go to google.com/business/placesforbusiness/ and follow login prompts.
Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that only verified businesses can respond to reviews through the review inbox…. Yet another reason to go and get your listings verified!
This update to Places for Business is great news for property managers of all sizes, but will be particularly helpful for smaller communities; because those who previously couldn’t afford to pay for reputation management services now have the tools to do it themselves. Regardless of the size of your company, communicating with your customers is imperative. After all, you can’t always control what people say. But you can control the way you respond, and the new Google Review Inbox makes reputation management that much easier.