“Reputation management” has become a hot topic among property managers in recent years. As more and more consumers turn to the internet for guidance, the importance of positive reviews and ratings grows. While managers have always dealt with dissatisfied customers, online reviews have now made the complaints much more public. The repercussions of negative reviews and ratings can be far-reaching, turning not only current but potential customers away. In the article “How to Turn Thumbs-Down Reviews into Thumbs-Up Service,” Jennifer Staciokas, Vice President of Marketing and Training at Lincoln Property Company, discusses several ways property managers can combat negative ratings, and grow positive ones.
Feedback, whether positive or negative, is beneficial. If it is positive, it is encouraging to both managers and consumers. If it is negative, it offers managers a chance to improve their services.
Staciokas encourages managers to respond to all feedback, if resources and time allow. When responding to negative feedback, she warns managers not to get defensive. Finding a solution is key. Managers should listen to what the dissatisfied customer is saying, and attempt to meet on common ground, getting to the root of the problem. For example, if a resident has complained about trash pile-ups on the weekends, respond by increasing trash pick-up during that time.
Staciokas warns not to respond by attacking the reviewer. A manager never wants to find himself or herself having a heated, public back-and-forth disagreement with a consumer. She stresses for managers to maintain a sense of professionalism. Never discuss personal information, such as late rent payments, online, as this could lead to legal pitfalls. If possible, Staciokas encourages managers to take the conversation ‘offline,’ perhaps by speaking with the dissatisfied reviewer over the phone in an attempt to better understand and solve their problem.
Managers will also want to encourage satisfied customers to review and rate their experiences. Staciokas suggests using a relationship management tool, which allows managers to easily e-mail residents information, including where they can go to offer feedback, reviews, or ratings (i.e. Google, Yelp, Apartment Ratings).
As more consumers turn to the internet, Staciokas foresees an increase in the importance of online reviews for property managers. It is important for managers to learn how to take advantage of online reviews; both to better services through negative feedback and problem solving, and market services to current and potential consumers.