Did you know that 80% of people who review products online give those products a 4-5 star rating? (Bazaarvoice and Keller Fay, 2011) We can all admit that we have had a bad experience with an apartment ratings and reviews site in the past, so it has been acceptable for us to feel a little scorned. But things have changed.
Apartment ratings and reviews sites like Renter’s Voice are now a third party with an unbiased voice. Reviews are a prospect expectation because they provide a realistic point of view of you and your product. So embrace your apartment ratings and reviews and own your turf. Own your customer experience.
Now that it is clear that reviews are not optional, have you thought about your goals for ratings and reviews? I am sure you have a range of goals whether it is to improve customer experience and satisfaction, decrease vacancies, or increase rents. But I have one goal to add to your list that is more of an overarching goal. Strive to better understand your residents and for your residents to better understand you. You and your residents should be having the same conversation. Too often those conversations are very different. What I mean by that is often what you say in your marketing and sales pitches doesn’t match the resident testimonials and stories – aka the apartment ratings and reviews your prospects find online.
You are probably wondering how you are supposed to have the same conversation with someone you barely know or have never even met. Collect information from your residents and prospects and then use that information to improve your customer experience, business processes, and marketing. Every interaction, both online and offline, is an opportunity to collect information. It exposes flaws and misconceptions that can be fixed. And if your testimonials and stories are similar to your sales pitch, it establishes you and your marketing efforts as being authentic and credible. Your sales efforts are much more successful when you proactively manage your apartment ratings and reviews.
Part of this goal should be to understand the reviewer’s motivations. You have to understand the kind of feedback to understand the problem. People leave you feedback for a reason. If the feedback is negative, it isn’t necessarily because they dislike your property and think you are doing everything wrong. They might just want to inform you of a problem you may not (or they think you must not) be aware of. The reviewer’s overall experience could be great except for this one issue. But you can’t understand a conversation you are not part of. You have to engage with and manage your online reviews. You have to identify the motivation to determine your next steps.
Most people loathe feedback, myself included. But criticism is an inevitable and important part of business. You can try as hard as you want, but the fact is that you can’t avoid it. If you listen and learn from negative customer feedback, it could actually be a key to your future success. Thanks to feedback I have received about my presentations, I have been able to make improvements in my style, voice, and content. I have learned to listen to what is important to the customer – to my target audience. I had to figure out how to process the feedback, understand the reviewer’s motivation, and apply it to my next project. It is a constant cycle of growth and improvement.
So spend some time thinking about how you receive feedback and what improvements you can make. We get feedback everyday in one form or another. Be aware of your reactions to your apartment ratings and reviews and the reviewer’s perceptions. It is good lesson in self-awareness.
Social Insight Thought Leader