The lead up to the bad online resident review
You’re on your lunch break eating a taco from your favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. You’re proud of yourself because 1) You’ve not limited yourself to eating tacos only on Tuesdays like an amateur 2) You’ve actually had time to take a real lunch break this week and 3) Occupancy is a solid 95%. Things are looking great and you’re on your way up in the world. Feeling good about yourself, you make the one cardinal sin one should never make while eating tacos. You decide to eat the taco with one hand and use your other hand to check your work emails. And bam…4 new emails at the top of your inbox all with ” online resident review” in the title.
The first from your reputation management system (gulp), the second from your Regional (hmm), the third from the Marketing Director (double gulp), and the fourth from the owner (triple gulp).
Well, you think…lunch is officially ruined. You check your Google Reviews and there it is…a one-star review and a college-thesis long essay on why your property is the worst in the world and why you and your team are the incarnations of the devil.
What is a property manager to do?
If Taylor Swift has taught the world anything, it’s how to shake things off. But this is easier said than done. So here is what we recommend you do.
Take a deep breath
It’s going to be okay. It really is. it’s super difficult not to take online resident reviews as a personal attack on your very core and humanity. And we get it. It just sucks to see the review. But breath and count backwards from 100. By the time you get to 1, you are hopefully slightly calmer.
Determine if the review is from a real resident and not a troll
If it’s not from a real resident, you can report it to the review site. Most review sites have policies against fake reviews and most have a way to report fake reviews.
Google’s Policy states that “Your content should reflect your genuine experience at the location and should not be posted just to manipulate a place’s ratings. Don’t post fake content, don’t post the same content multiple times, and don’t post content for the same place from multiple accounts.”
If the review is fake, here is how to report and Flag a Google review.
If the review is real, determine if it’s fair
This can be a difficult pill to swallow, but many reviews are a fair assessment of a resident’s experience. You can feel angry, hurt, upset and can even decide to wallow in self-pity but sometimes, reviews are an accurate reflection of what happened. Even if it’s not entirely accurate, the resident wrote the review because the situation left them feeling a certain way.
If the review is unfair, reach out to the resident to empathize
Most people would recommend you respond to the review directly on the platform. We recommend taking a different approach. Reach out to the resident via email or phone call and empathize with them. Tell them you are there to listen and fully understand how this issue happened and how you can make things right.
Good: We are sorry we didn’t meet your expectations.
Better: We are sorry we didn’t meet your expectations. Here are the things we have in control and here are the things we do not.
Best: We are sorry our team let you down. How could we make things right for you given XYZ that is not within our control?
If the review is fair, reach out to the resident with an olive branch
Again, we recommend reaching out to the resident off-platform. An email or phone call is your best friend. Call and apologize and emphasize you understand the impact it’s had on them and ask them how you can make things right.
Good: We are sorry our team let you down.
Better: We are sorry our team let you down. Here is how we want to make it up to…does that work?
Best: We are sorry our team let you down. Here is how we want to make it up to…does that work? And here is how we have fixed this issue so it never happens again. [A few days after issue is resolve: We’ve fixed the issue. Do you mind updating your review?]
Fix the issue and ask the resident to update their review
Every review is an opportunity to improve. Once you have solved the resident’s issue, reach back out to them and ask them to edit their review. Almost all review sites have the ability for reviewers to edit or update previous reviews. You’ll be surprised by the glowing updated review most residents will leave after you solve their problem and address the issue. This step is probably the most important and the biggest mistake property managers make is not following back up with a resident to edit their online resident review.
Implement feedback systems to catch issues before they turn into negative reviews
The best property managers catch issues before they turn into issues. You should be surveying residents monthly and after every staff interaction – email communication, maintenance request, move-in, move-out, events, amenity reservations etc. Using micro-surveys allows your team to keep a constant pulse on resident satisfaction and ensures issues don’t turn into negative online resident reviews.