According to a study conducted by SMS Marketing in 2012, 65 percent of online shoppers read only 2-10 reviews per buying decision vs. 58 percent in 2011. In addition, Nielsen reports that consumer trust of online reviews has increased to 70 percent worldwide, up 15 percent in the last four years. What this tells me is that more people are reading fewer online reviews to make their shopping and purchase (or rental) decisions. Bottom line: Renters will pay the most attention to the first few reviews listed on rating and review sites, so we better hope those reviews are positive!
If you’ve had your head in the sand about online reputation management, the time has come to stand up and see the light. The good news is that, while it may feel like your residents are out to destroy you on the public forum of ratings and review sites, there are now more tools and strategies available to help you showcase the truth about how well your team takes care of your residents and community!
A Good Online Reputation Begins with a Good On Site Reputation
Residents are not going to go out of their way to post raving reviews about your community if there’s nothing to rave about. It’s a good practice to take the time to see how residents are really feeling about their experience in your community. Ask for feedback. Yes, there may be some harsh realities to face, but you’ll also discover some gems about your team, your service and your property that you can build upon and promote to prospects!
Take Advantage of Those Moments of Truth
We’ve all had those pleasant surprises when a resident sends a thank you note or stops by to let us know how a team member really made their day. Don’t let those opportunities slip through the cracks. Thank the resident for letting you know, tell them how you can’t wait to share their thoughts with the team, and then ask if they would be willing to share that great experience online! (Then make it easy by emailing a link or handing a flyer out with the rating/review site URL). According to the 2012 e-book, “Getting Inside the Head of the Online Renter,” nearly two-thirds of all renters said they would post a positive online review of their community if asked. Less than 9 percent had ever been asked!
Leverage Technology Options
Now, more than ever, there are tools out there to help generate more and better information for online reputation management, including gathering and posting a better cross section of opinions of current residents to rating and review sites. SatisFacts’ new Verified Resident Program, for example, provides a quick and easy way for residents to provide reviews to ApartmentRatings.com as a part of the community’s regular feedback program. In just the first 30 days, on average property management companies are seeing their “Would Recommend” score increase by nearly 30 percent.
Respond to Reviews
Online reviews can be frustrating because many are anonymous, and so it feels fruitless to respond to those nameless, faceless complainers. However, keep in mind that while your response may never result in being able to resolve that resident’s issue, it may impress a prospect who appreciates seeing a manager make the effort to keep the lines of communication open. Respond consistently to online review with a positive, inviting message and watch that rating and review site become your best lead-generator!
Don’t run from your online ratings and reviews. Accept them as a critical, new part of doing business, and take some steps toward managing your online reputation. Your strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are tools available to assist. But whatever you do, don’t believe that the bad reviews will just go away or have no impact on your prospects’ opinion of you. What happens on the Internet, stays on the internet!