More and more we’re seeing consumers becoming accustomed to using ratings and reviews to aid in their decision-making process. According to Apartments.com research results, 80% of respondents stated they use property reviews as part of their apartment search process.
Apartments.com was joined by our very own Chris Brown, Vice President of Product Management, to discuss the importance of consumer reviews. The session was packed with information on how to promote and encourage reviews about your property and provide tips for responding to reviews. You can hear everything Chris has to say by watching the webinar here, but I wanted to share some of the most popular questions from our audience.
Q: My community constantly gets good reviews, but residents both past and present accuse us of writing them ourselves. What should I do?
A: What a dilemma for a property doing well – and getting the reviews to show it! Try responding to the positive reviews by humbly thanking the reviewer and stating how much you appreciate the feedback. Acknowledging the review with a response could validate the authenticity of the original post and make people think, “Hey, this must be a real consumer.”
Q: Should I respond to negative reviews? If so, what should I say?
A: Absolutely! It is a best practice to always respond and never let a negative review be ignored. This way, you not only address the concern to the reviewer, but publicly announce to all readers what your community has done to rectify the situation. Begin by empathizing with the renter’s frustration and offering an apology, even if there is nothing you can do. Then, explain upcoming or recent changes to the community and what you’ve done to improve or fix any issues. Close the loop by letting the reviewer know that if they have additional comments, to please contact the leasing office directly and you can handle the concern offline.
Q: How can we get a review taken off due to posting individual names, racial comments, etc.?
A: This depends on the review website. For the best protection, we recommend you only work with sites that will honor these requests if you’re placed in a situation where an individual is named or a racial comment was made. On Apartments.com, for example, we have a moderation process in place so reviews containing personally identifiable information (full names of the apartment community staff), obscenities or discriminatory language, email addresses, URLs or phone numbers, spam content or references to other apartment communities, or websites and content violating HUD or fair-housing laws will not be posted.
Q: There are a few properties nationwide with the same name as my property. What if a consumer posts a review about a different property?
A: As with any review, respond and be honest. Thank the user for the review, but let them know that you think the consumer is mixing your property up with a different one. As politely as possible, state why you believe there was a mix-up. On Apartments.com, if the review or comment is truly inaccurate, please contact our Customer Support team and we can remove it for you.
Q: How do I promote and encourage residents to write a review?
A: Promote your community reviews in as many ways as possible, as often as possible. Ask residents to write a review any time you had a positive interaction with them. Include a link to your property’s reviews page in your community newsletters, on rent invoices and especially maintenance visit receipts by simply asking “How are we doing? Reviews us on…” For prospective residents, be sure to have a reviews call to action in your closing process. What better time to build positive reviews than when they’re excited to move in! Continue to promote reviews at the community with a promotional window clings (provided by Apartments.com), create a “Review Us” sticker to put on leasing brochures or business cards, and even include a link to the reviews page on your website.
Remember – even though you’re actively promoting your community reviews, not everyone will write one. Don’t get discouraged!
Q: How do we build positive reviews before we start soliciting reviews? We don’t want to draw attention to the site where people will see negativity that they didn’t see before.
A: Visit the websites where you may already have reviews. See where you’re doing well, and then determine where you want to build volume. Start asking residents and prospective residents to review you on those sites.
Keep in mind that when you send consumers to a review site and they take action, chances are they’ve made up their mind on what they want to say. According to our findings, it is likely to be a positive review and the reviewer won’t be deterred by what’s already there. If the reviewer is already a brand advocate, they’ll be even more encouraged to post something positive if they see something that’s been fairly negative up to that point.
For additional information on community reviews, please download The Five Star Community white paper, the complete findings from the research conducted by Apartments.com. If you have any questions on Apartments.com specific Community Reviews, please read the Apartments.com Community Reviews Guidebook, a complete guide to why Apartments.com is launching Community Reviews, tips on managing and promoting your reviews and an FAQ reference section.
If you ever miss a session, don’t worry! Each presentation is recorded and available for you to access at your convenience. If you have any questions or comments, tweet them to @Apartmentscom, using the hashtag #AptsTraining, or leave them in the comments section below.