Imagine you are a prospective renter who is ready for a change of scenery. Naturally you go to the internet and start searching for your next place to live. You have heard about this great place around block. When you Google the name of the Property, the first result that comes up is a nasty review about how bad the staff is, the parking lot is always full, the lighting is bad at night, the bad review seems to go on, and on, and on. Imagine if you saw a positive review the property instead of the bad review, how would that impact your decision to apply or continue looking somewhere else?
We are all influenced by online reviews. Some studies have shown that we are more likely to base purchasing decisions on reviews posted by strangers than on recommendations given by family and friends. But how do we generate positive reviews?
As property management professionals, it’s up to us to give the residents something good to write about. We need to offer outstanding customer service to our residents. We should go the extra the mile to make sure the residents enjoy living at our communities. Every resident interaction is an opportunity to play up what makes our properties unique and let the residents know that their decision to live in our community was a good one.
When someone does leave a bad review (yes, it will happen) we need to respond to it. It may feel uncomfortable or unnatural, but it will make a lasting impression. Our response shows that we care and that we are serious about our residents satisfaction. Not only do we need to respond, we also need to tell what we are doing to correct the problem. It may be tempting to get defensive or fire back at the reviewer, but we know better.
Online reviews add to the many opportunities we have to engage our residents online. By now it’s expected that we will have a property Facebook group, a property Twitter account, and even a Google+ page. Not only does this make it easier for prospects to find our communities online, but these social media channels offer a natural venue for people to talk about what a great community they live in without being asked.
A colleague of mine summed up online reviews best, “If you’re not going to play an active part in these stories, you’re going to end up as the nameless villain landlord.” Don’t end up as the nameless villain landlord! Take some time to check out what your residents are saying about you and — most importantly — respond.