Shoot for the Stars: Why Online Reviews are Important for Apartment Communities

Whether it’s marketing your community to prospective residents or better connecting with your current residents, gathering honest feedback can be critical to both mastering your marketing and resident retention. While engaging with your residents through surveys and social media can provide the internal feedback you need to better serve your community, online reviews are often primary resources for prospects.

Recently, Multi-Housing News outlined some of the most important marketing trends for 2016, and unsurprisingly reviews play a big role. In fact, MHN emphasizes that 52% of prospects consider ratings and reviews at the beginning of their apartment search and and 78% use online reviews to gather information about communities at some point during the marketing funnel. As online reviews continue to count as a significant portion of your marketing stack, it’s important to understand which outlets for reviews hold the most weight.

Unsurprisingly, one of the sites wielding the most power on your community’s web presence is Google. Google+, or Google My Business, remains the most trusted site for online feedback from users, and often displays the most prominently within search engines, followed closely by Yelp. The star-ratings that appear next to your listing on these outlets in search results, known as rich snippets, often provide users with a concise snapshot of customer sentiment–even before they click to the visit the website, view photos, or get to the meat of your marketing messaging.

Ensure your site is visible on Google+, Yelp, and other sites like ApartmentRatings.com–among the most trusted for apartment-specific reviews.

“The trustworthiness and the resulting effect of ratings and reviews on the rental decision are trending upward,” said MHN, up 4% from 2012.

While reviews are important, it goes without saying that not all reviews are positive. However, a negative review isn’t necessarily going to break the business. In fact, published negative reviews, public responses, and assured, consistent customer service help reinforce positive reviews and lend an air of believability to positive comments on review sites. 72% of customers trust sites with negative reviews more, according to Yotpo, a review marketing solution.

Negative feedback can actually help apartment communities better mitigate issues in the future. Listen closely to negative feedback, and try to spotlight issues that the community or business can better address. The prompt attention to resident or customer complaints can help instill trust to prospects, giving them confidence that any issues will be addressed with promptness, honesty, and humility.

“The key is to listen to the other person without planning our reply,” said Dick Grote at the Harvard Business Review. Instead of responding and trying to prove a complainant wrong or coming from a place of defensiveness, it’s important to stay neutral, listen, and refrain from becoming argumentative or trying to prove someone wrong. Instead, spotlight the issue. Ensure that the reviewer knows that you’ve understood their complaint, and ask for time to find the best solution. By asking for time, you “demonstrate that you take what you’ve been told seriously…asking for time also helps defuse the emotional load,” said HBR.

By giving a timeframe for a solution, the respondent helps illustrate the willingness to move forward with a considered approach, and indicates that you’re responding to their complaint with the respect it deserves.
Be sure to listen to–or read–your complaints carefully, and don’t be afraid to illuminate negative reviews by offering a response and a concrete timeframe to continue the dialogue. This will help build trust for prospects, but also help to rebuild the relationships of any who may leave negative feedback.

Looking for more apartment management tips and news? Be sure to check out our past blog posts here.

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