How crazy is it that we live in a world where we have unlimited information at our fingertips? Seriously, no matter what industry you are in, you can hop on Google and be a self-taught “expert” at something in no time. This is also the case for our industry. Someone can Google our communities and know just as much about the property as the leasing agent does before they even walk through the door. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially if your community has an amazing online presence, great reviews, quality photos, etc; but for a majority of us, this isn’t the case.
With the power of the internet and social networking sites, the consumer now plays a large role in our communities success. The days of resolving problems with unhappy customers face to face is long gone and now if a problem arises, the first place they look to rant, isn’t over the phone, it’s on the web! If sites like Google, ApartmentRatings.com, and Yelp weren’t enough, adding social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in the mix allows prospects to share their experience with their entire network of friends. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, unless your BIG REPUTATION, isn’t as squeaky clean as Tswifts.
The ability for consumers to review your business shouldn’t be a scary thing, there are many positive reviews out there being posted daily that help drive traffic to our communities. Let’s go over some stats:
- 92% of consumers read online reviews.
- Businesses with mostly 1 & 2-star reviews fail to convert about 90% of their prospective customers.
- Every star a business loses will cost them 5%-9% of their revenue.
- When JTurner surveyed 17,000 students and asked “Do you utilize online reviews in your apartment search? 86% answered Yes.
- A bad review reaches 2x as many people as a positive one.
- 45% of consumes SHARE negative reviews on social media & 63% of consumers READ negative reviews on social media. (As if people don’t share enough on social media these days: recipes, animal videos, inspirational quotes, now they are sharing our negative reviews?? Great!)
- The last and most important stat that stands out to me is 88% of consumers TRUST reviews just as much as a personal recommendation.
All of this data can be overwhelming, but in a nutshell, all it’s saying is your online reputation DOES matter! People are looking at this when they are searching for an apartment and if we don’t stay on top of this, your community can get overlooked when it’s time to lease!
So let’s break this down into a few key points: 1.)How to get more reviews, 2.)Where to focus these reviews, and 3.)The importance of responding to these reviews.
How To Get Reviews
Sorry to break it to you, but there is no secret recipe for gaining reviews. The very best way to get a REAL positive review is just to ask. If your communities are providing great customer service and hosting memorable events then that is your secret sauce to getting positive reviews.
Hounding your residents while they are enjoying an event at the community isn’t the best place to solicit reviews. Instead, let them take in that experience and focus your time on making sure that everyone attending is having a great time. After the event is over you can guarantee days later these residents will be in the office to pick up packages, pay rent, etc. This is your time to engage them, and ask how they felt about the event, did they enjoy themselves, inform them of more upcoming events, and then mention leaving a review or sharing their experience on social media.
There are so many opportunities throughout the year to ask residents to leave a review, for instance after they have moved in and turn in a satisfied inventory and condition form (that’s your cue!) Or after maintenance responded to a work order and went above and beyond their expectations (again, that’s your cue!) ask away during these positive moments.
Prospects can be a little trickier to get reviews out of, but they are also some of the first to write a negative review if our customer service didn’t meet their expectations. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of our CWOL and engaging the customer on a more personal level. At the end of the tour, the prospect should feel comfortable talking to you and this trust should only build as you help them begin their application. Making things easy for our consumers gives them a great talking point when we ask them to write a review about their leasing experience. For example, Prospects can’t say “I love living here, my apartment is beautiful, I love maintenance, etc. But they can say “ Just signed a lease at ____ apartments, the application and leasing process was all online and super quick, can’t wait to move in!” This is the type of review you should try to gain from your prospects.
Where to Leave a Review
Trying to get your ORA score up and reach the Top 1% list? There actually is a science to it! Did you know that asking everyone to leave you a review on Google only can actually hurt your score? For example, if you are currently at a 65 ORA score and you received 15 new Google reviews and 2 new Yelp reviews for the month, but you noticed your score didn’t change, here’s why. If you have 100+ Google reviews, then the 15 new ones you just received, aren’t going to help out your score very much. But if you only have 5 total Yelp reviews on your account and you would have asked those 15 Google reviewers to post on Yelp instead, your score would have increased. The fewer reviews you have on a site, the more impact reviews will make. Be strategic about where you need these reviews the most, and then focus your month on obtaining reviews for that specific site, this will help boost your ORA score and increase your online reputation.
The Importance of Responding
Ensuring we are responding to positive and negative reviews within 24-48 hours of it being posted is the Cardinal standard. Think about it this way, if there is a negative review that sits unanswered this gives the unhappy customer more time to spread their feelings throughout other sites. Sticking to this timeframe will also keep others from chiming in on your behalf and adding fuel to the fire. The same rule applies when it comes to positive reviews as well. If someone has taken the time to leave a review that speaks highly of your community, it’s our job to recognize them and let them know that we value their feedback. It’s important to keep in mind that if we are promptly responding to these reviews, we will gain control of our online reputation.
Here is an example where a resident shared a negative experience on Nov. 2nd. This review received likes from 2 other people and back and forth conversations with an outsider before the onsite team responded 10 days later on Nov. 12th. If the team would have responded immediately, they could have dealt with this situation offline and this could have saved this issue from escalating.
We focus so much attention on making sure we have the best possible online presence, from our websites looking and performing at their best, to our social media pages depicting the lifestyle and feel of the community, but the one thing we can’t manipulate is our online reputation. This reputation isn’t something that is created by us, instead, it’s created by consumers that have had experiences with our business and it’s our job to make sure this experience is worth talking about, positively!!