1 Star Human (How NOT to respond to negative reviews)

Handling negative reviews with tact and professionalism is an effective way to show customers & prospects that you care about their feedback and have great customer service. Buuut sometimes owner responses can lack the sensitivity and thoughtfulness and create the opposite effect. In this new series – “How NOT to respond to negative reviews” – we’ll take a look at some replies that missed the mark and walk you through the dos and don’ts of dealing with troublesome reviews.

The Case of the 1 Star Human

Ok… there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s break it down:

  • Don’t respond to negativity with negativity. While it may seem like an obvious tip, refrain from labeling and name-calling. Referring to a dissatisfied customer as an idiot, a shame, or *sigh* an “evil weak coward” will not only antagonize that individual; it also plants a big, bright red flag for curious would-be patrons checking out your business. As nasty as a review like this is, you can express regret that his experience did not reflect the values put forth by you and your team and do it without resorting to name-calling.
  • Take a moment to calm down. Timeliness is crucial when it comes to addressing customer complaints, but you need a level-head before replying. If you can’t write a response that conveys a sense of respect and politeness (or you use the phrase “1 STAR HUMAN”), you’ve got some editing to do. If possible, pull in someone who is not as emotionally vested to help you compose the reply.
  • Address accusations of racism seriously. An accusation of racism should not be taken lightly even if you know it’s unfounded because the accusation plants the possibility in the mind of prospective customers. Assure everyone, firmly and clearly, of your objection to such discriminatory behavior in any capacity. And of course, you do want to verify that you and your employees are not being unintentionally or intentionally racist. If upon gathering more information you do find your company at fault, fix the problem. Like all reviews, take the matter as an opportunity to get better.

Let’s be honest: negative reviews can be infuriating when they are worded this harshly and severely. But a poor response can make the situation worse. Consider these tips the next time you feel unsure of how to respond and check out this guide that walks you through how to handle different scenarios. Your ratings (and stress-levels) will thank you.

 

How to Manage Your Listing & Reviews on Apartments.com

Property managers are no strangers to listing rental properties online. But optimizing the listing profiles to maximize new leads can be confusing. And if those sites allow renters to write reviews, managing those reviews can be an intimidating process. This guide will help you make the most of your property listings on Apartments.com and win over prospective residents.

Why is Apartments.com important

You might think, “Why should I care about this site? I already use other sites for property listings.” There’s nothing wrong with listing your property on different avenues, but Apartments.com should be on your radar.

Apartments.com receives 13 million unique visitors and 195 million page views per month. It is also part of the conglomerate CoStar, which runs ApartmentFinder.com and ApartmentHomeLiving.com. This network allows you to publicize your listing on multiple sites, which gives you a bigger audience of prospective renters.

How to get listed on Apartments.com

You can either create a new listing or claim an existing one on Apartments.com. Apartments.com has both free and paid listing options. As you might expect, a paid listing will be seen by more people, so it’s a potential option if you’re trying to get more eyeballs for your property listing.

If you see an existing listing for a property that’s yours, shoot an email to support@apartments.com to claim it. You’ll be able to manage the details of the listing and potentially promote it.

But creating a listing is only the first step. You want the listing profile for your property to stand out amongst your competitors. This means providing rich, accurate information and beautiful photos to showcase the property’s highlights. Basically, you want a great-looking profile, so you can convert prospects into customers.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for managing your listings on the Apartments.com portal with ease.

Manage listings on Apartments.com

Once you have added your listing, log in to your Apartments.com account. If you have multiple properties to manage, you’ll be able to manage them all from this customer portal.

When providing information about each property, you’ll start with the model or unit details of the property, including square footage, rooms, and rent figures. Double-check those numbers! You don’t want to make a bad impression by giving someone faulty information.

Now enter more details about the property, including the name, total units, lease options, year built, and description. In your description, give tenants-to-be a holistic view of what living on the property is like. List nearby features like highways, airports, shops, or parks. Talk about the culture of the property and don’t forget to mention perks like a swimming pool or fitness center.

Next, list the property’s amenities. Prospects search for properties based on these factors, so don’t skip over any bonuses your property has to offer. This includes pet policies, parking options, and any included utilities.

Now it’s time to add your photos. Add photos with multiple shots and angles inside and outside of the property. Don’t forget photos of the amenities, too.

Many renters have kids, which is why it’s crucial to list the local school information. Add the school name, level (elementary, middle, high), distance from the property, and its GreatSchool rating. Don’t forget to look up the correct GreatSchool rating for maximum accuracy.

There’s nothing like getting calls from prospects at 8 pm when you’re out of the office. Lost time can be a lost contract; publish your office hours so people know the best time to contact you.

Set your email, phone number, and website on the Lead tab. Apartments.com also lets you adjust the form contact fields on your listings. Try to keep the contact form as short as possible. The longer the form, the less likely a prospect is to fill it out.

Last but definitely not least, set your property’s location on the map. Location, location, location, after all. Apartments.com pulls in Google Maps data, so it’s a cinch to set up your address.

Get positive reviews on Apartments.com

Like many property listing sites, Apartments.com allows residents to leave reviews. As you probably know by now, better reviews means more business.

But you don’t need to wait for positive reviews on Apartments.com. You can be proactive and request reviews from your happy residents, in person, through email, online and in print.

Why respond to reviews

Getting positive reviews from your happy residents is one aspect of managing your online reviews. It’s critical to reply to reviewers, too.

Over 80% of consumers expect a response from a business if they post a comment online, so replying to a review has become a fundamental part of doing business in the information and internet age. But you are not just appealing to the reviewer who wrote the review. You are also trying to win over prospective customers who are reading the reviews and demonstrating that you care about what your customers have to say.

Replying to a negative review can be particularly intimidating, but it gives you a chance to address a customer’s concerns, state the facts if the review is inaccurate, and perhaps fix a recurring issue that is impacting other residents. Here’s a simple guide for walking you through the process for replying to a negative review.

Examples of good responses to reviews on Apartments.com

Sometimes, showing is a better than describing. Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of effective owner responses.

The screenshot below shows an example of a good response to a negative review.

Review: I’ve lived here about five years now, and during that time I’ve dealt with staff that was excellent, neighbors that are awesome, staff that was rude and upstairs neighbors who are consistently inconsiderate. Some of the new staff has been completely dismissive about my complaints about the neighbors above me, telling me that they had already talked to them saying when they stomp around “isn’t cool”. As a nearly 300lbs man, our downstairs neighbors have confirmed they have never had this issue. And even though they are very clear about only having two pets maximum and have certain breeds of dogs, there doesn’t seem to be any consequences in breaking these rules. There is one thing that [redacted] has that not a lot of apartments have, and that is a respectful and courteous maintenance staff. I’m a bit younger than they are, but they still treat me with the same respect that they show any other resident. *** Reply: Thank you for your reviews of [redacted]. We appreciate the feedback as we continue to make our community the best that it can be. it is disheartening to hear that your stay here has been anything but satisfactory, especially from a resident who has been here so long. We apologize for the inconveniences you have faced with your neighbors. Our staff works hard to fix these issues, but must tread lightly due to HOA laws. We are happy to hear that your experience with the maintenance staff. Our staff works hard to provide residents with Hassle Free Living in a place they are proud to call home. We would like the opportunity to turn this negative experience into a positive one. Please feel free to come into the office to discuss further.
What makes this response effective?

  • The tone of the property manager is respectful but tactful – explaining the property’s position without coming across defensive.
  • The response is personalized and not canned. The responder acknowledges the fact that the reviewer has been a long-time resident.
  • The response provides just the right amount of transparency to explain why the issue is tough – in this case due to HOA laws. The responder doesn’t overshare but gives just enough detail so that the reviewer might understand the situation better.
  • The responder cleverly emphasizes the positive aspects of the property: “Hassle Free Living” and a hard working staff.
  • The responder ends by providing a chance to discuss the issue further and take the conversation offline

Now let’s look at an example of reply to a positive review.

Review: I moved to Greenville for my job and I needed an apartment right away. The staff and [redacted] made that happen when no one else could help me. I really appreciate them going our of their way to accomodate me. I will definitely be referring them to anyone looking for a great apartment for a reasonable price! Thank you! *** Reply: Thanks for the compliments! We always aim to please and help our residents feel at home!
When someone leaves you a nice review, replying back with a simple note shows gratitude and can help build loyalty with that specific customer. It also shows potential residents that you are listening and appreciate them.

Again, replying to a negative review is more challenging, so having a gameplan in place to properly address a bad review is important.

How to respond to reviews on Apartments.com

Login to your account and go to “My Reviews”. This area lists all the reviews for the properties in your account.

Click “Respond to Review” to leave a response. Note that Apartments.com will evaluate your response, so there is a waiting period before your response is posted. Their system will notify you once it’s gone live.

Is getting listed on Apartments.com worth the effort?

Apartments.com is too large of a site for any property manager to ignore because of the potential customers it can drive to your business. So you want to be pro-active managing your profiles on their network of sites: get listed, optimize your listings, solicit for reviews and respond quickly to new reviews.

Apartmentguide.com: 2018 Guide for Property Management Companies

Apartmentguide.com is a popular, property listing site that help renters search for their next place. Renters can see high definition photos and get quality information about rental properties, as well as read reviews from verified residents. Owned by Rentpath, one of the biggest apartment website conglomerates, Apartment Guide can be a powerful marketing channel. This guide will show you how to build a strong profile and manage reviews on Aparmentguide.com so that your property stands out and gets more business.

Why is Apartmentguide.com important?

In February of this year, Apartmentguide.com saw 1.8 million views from desktop users alone. But what makes that number meaningful is that fact that Rentpath touts that 81% of the calls generated from their sites are from real customers. These are high-quality leads that could be renting your property.

How to Get Listed on Apartment Guide

To create a listing on Apartmentguide.com, you WILL need to purchase one of their advertising options. But on the plus side, in the Apartmentguide.com interface, you’ll have the ability to track your leads and measure the ROI (like you should with any marketing spend).

To get started, complete this contact form with info about the property and your contact info. Rentpath will reach out afterwards. Once the account is set up, managers can start to build their listings. This is where the “fun” happens.

Building the Best Profile

Your properties deserve to shine, and your Apartment Guide profile is the place to do it. A profile that is rich with detail and description will not only be helpful to prospective residents but also enhance your SEO, giving your listing profile a higher ranking in search results. Here are the different areas of your profile:

Images. The property images are what the potential customers will look to first when eyeing your profile. These should be high-quality images that show all the key parts of the property. Make sure to show off the selling points!

Details. The detail section is a place you can provide a nice overview and highlight attractive benefits.

Contact. Make sure your phone numbers and email addresses listed here are accurate.

Units/Pricing. The units that are available, as well as the pricing for each unit, are listed here.

Specials. Property managers can run special promotions for their properties, creating a coupon with start and end dates.

Features. All the niceties of the property are listed here, including balcony access, appliances, etc. as well as community features such as laundry facility, fitness center, pets allowed, etc.

Terms/Policies. This page is made for all the terms and policies about the property including standard lease information, pet policies, custom lease terms, etc. Any information regarding payment terms, etc. should be placed here for customers to view.

Hours. Updated hours for the property are critical to the sale because you want to capture all potential leads. These should be updated for weather changes, holidays, etc.

Locations and Directions. Make sure that this information is accurate and up to date. No lost leads! If the apartment complex has more than one location, it should be specified.

Leads. This page features a contact form for customers to reach out. The form should ask for just enough information to qualify a lead without scaring them off by its lengthiness.

Once you have updated each of these sections and added high-quality images to your listing, you are ready to publish!

Managing Reviews on Apartmentguide.com

The listings are not complete without shining reviews from past customers. So, ask for them! Apartment Guide encourages using reviews to boost leads. You will want a lot of high-quality reviews to gain trust from potential customers. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting or inquiring about a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online review sites were not created with just restaurants and hotels in mind. They were created for businesses in any industry, including property management.

The Apartmentguide.com interface allows you to view your positive reviews against the negative reviews to see the overall health of your listing. It can drill down by each property that is managed and show the number of reviews that are yet to be replied to.

Examples of Good Responses to Reviews

Responding to reviews requires tact and levelheadedness, but if done right, it has tremendous benefits. Responding to a positive review shows that you are listening, which builds loyalty with your current residents and can win over future ones. Here’s an example of an effective response to a positive review from Apartmentguide.com:

Review: Seeing reviews where a landlord cares about his tenants and stuff makes me want to move here. You take the time and get things done. I can honestly say better than the landlords up here!! I am searching fo a place. When it comes the time of going to move o believe me this is where I want to be. *** Reply: Thank you for the compliments and for taking the time to write. The team at [redacted] works hard to provide excellent value and service to all our residents. Enhancing people’s quality of life at our apartmnet communities is something we take great pride in. Please feel free to bring any apartment-hunting friends to [redacted]. We have newly renovated apartments for your and amazing specials to offer.
In addition to expressing gratitude, the responder also uses this as a chance to market the property: “We have newly renovated apartments waiting for you and amazing specials to offer”. Very clever.

Responding to a negative review can be more challenging. First, you’ll want to assess if replying to the review is appropriate. Here’s a decision tree that shows you how to manage a bad review.

Once you have figured out the replying is the right action to take, reply quickly and with poise. Let’s look at this example and identify their winning practices:

Review: New owners but same concerns. When it snows, expect nothing. There’s no plowing, the sidewalks are not cleared, and concrete stairs have no traction. No ice melting applied, you’re on your own. I don’t even think they have a snow shovel! Bu they have plenty of excuses. I suggested they invest in a snow blower or even a plow. Too logical, I suspect. Another property more concerned with money than resident safety. *** Reply: Thanks for writing. Despite the fact that we were short handed during the State of Emergency, our team did put icemelt all over the community to prevent accidents. Plowing would have caused a sheet of ice, making it all the more dangerous, whereas the crunchy snow helped with traction. Please do contact the office with any further concerns. Thank you.

Watch your tone. The tone should be respectful, explaining your position without being defensive. You have the right to help others understand what happened, in this case the State of Emergency. But you do not want to antagonize the reviewer.

Personalize. If possible, the response should be personalized and not scripted. Simply adding a “contact us with your concerns” and a phone number is not the way to go. The responder in this case took the time to speak to the specific complaint.

Be transparent. You do not need too much detail, but some transparency shows that you are not hiding from the problem and open to discussion.

Show gratitude. It is best to thank the reviewer for the review, regardless of the outcome. It shows professionalism and class. But also, customer feedback can be hard to come by. A reviewer is providing you insight on ways you can improve. That is something to be grateful for.

Discuss off-line. At the end, give the reviewer a chance to discuss their concerns further but do it privately so that the dispute does not turn into a he said/she said scenario.

How to reply to reviews in Apartmentguide.com

When responding to a reviewer through Apartment Guide, the interface will provide high level stats and the reviews themselves:

Click “reply”, and you’l have the option of replying online or through email to the customer.

If you think it’s best to take the conversation offline immediately, then the email messaging option may be best. Of course, keep future customers in mind when it comes to the publicly posted response. Your words matter.

Is getting listed on Apartmentguide.com worth the investment?

Apartmentguide.com can be a helpful tool for property managers to promote their properties to prospective renters. Like any marketing campaign, you will want to measure the ROI and make sure your marketing budget is spent wisely.