Skilled property managers wear many hats. Learning how to respond to negative online reviews is the public relations hat. It just as crucial as the “lead generator” hat because so many people trust online reviews when searching for a new business partner. In fact, according to Inc.com, 91% of people read online reviews, and 84% of those people trust the review as if it was coming from a friend.
You will get a bad review here and there throughout your property management career. Disgruntled owners faced with a fee they forgot or tenants upset about a perceived slight will happen.
When it does, your response will help to guide the public opinion created by that review. Your response should be well thought out and measured to minimize the damage caused by the negative review.
Determine the Nature of the Review
Step one is determining whether the negative review is based on fact or an uncontrollable situation that you cannot or should not fix, such as assessing late fees per the lease.
If the review is negative for negativity’s sake, or untrue, you may be able to have the review removed. Some companies, such as Yelp, allow removal under certain circumstances.
If the concern has merit, such as a service request that took too long, broken appliance, or other issues that your office dropped the ball on, be sure to respond as quickly as possible. A swift response will let your client, as well as review readers, know that you are committed to fixing the cause of the complaint promptly. A quick response is the best response you can give to this type of negative review.
As with everything, if a negative review stems from a mistake or misstep made by your company, be professional and courteous in all interactions. It is vital to respond quickly, but it is just as crucial to take the time to ensure your message is not coming across as dismissive or aggressive.
Most people easily misread the tone of online communications so have someone else read any response you draft before you hit send to avoid further escalation of the problem.
Also, use these strategies to ensure a response that will defuse the situation rather than ignite it:
- Be polite, honest, and professional if you apologize
- Craft a public response as well as a private more personal response
- Show concern for their inconvenience or hardship. Put yourself in their shoes.
Your apology should be sincere and address the steps that you will take to make the situation better. When writing your response, be sure to put yourself in the shoes of a future client, would the response be what you would expect if you were considering doing business with your company?
If you need help improving your online image, schedule a free consultation with RentBridge Group. We are property management marketing experts and we can help you get on the right track.