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Online Reputation Management

How do you manage your community’s online reputation? The answer may surprise you.

Brent Gratton, Director of Multimedia Marketing & Communications

“When property management professionals ask me how they can improve their online reviews and feedback, one of the first things I point them to is the resident experience,” says Brent Gratton, WPM Director of Multimedia Marketing and Communications. “To ensure positive reviews on key websites such as ApartmentRatings.com, ensuring that the customer experience is positive is paramount.”

Still, no matter how excellent the property management, there will always be the stray complaint or disgruntled resident. And thanks to social media and property rating websites, one resident’s displeasure can spread faster than mold in a flooded basement. That’s why WPM offers the following guidance to property managers about how to use both proactive and reactive strategies for managing customer feedback.

Obviously, a proactive approach is the goal. Good managers anticipate residents’ needs before residents have the chance to blast their complaints online. Being proactive requires three things:

  1. Great service: By focusing on a great resident experience, managers can greatly influence their organization’s online image.
  2. Asking for feedback: While most residents are willing to provide feedback, very few are often asked. Creating a system for collecting residents’ responses is imperative.
  3. Quick responses to customer concerns: The more time that elapses between a complaint and its correction, the more likely a resident is to take air their frustration on social media networks.
  4. An open line of communication: Residents need to know whom they can contact with questions or problems. If they are unsure, they may seek advice online or default to complaining instead of addressing the issue through the proper channels.

 

But when your first line of defense fails, you’ll need a workable set of reactive strategies. Remember, even if a resident’s poor experience goes viral, you can still salvage your image:

  1. First, respond to the reviews: Sometimes, people just want to be heard. When you respond to their negative review with a thoughtful, respectful explanation of what your company is doing to address the problem, you win the trust of the resident and points with the cyber audience.
  2. Then, make sure you do something about the problem. It’s not enough to make the public promise that you will fix the problem; you actually have to fix the problem. And quickly! As time passes, a disgruntled resident’s frustration is likely to spill over onto more websites.

Finally, when working with unhappy residents, Gratton encourages property managers to remember Bill Gates’ advice: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Listen carefully to residents’ complaints – online or otherwise – and always try to see things from their point of view. Your online reputation is bound to improve… because your property will improve!