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Death By Template: 5 Tips To Create Custom Responses

Death By Template: 5 Tips To Create Custom Responses
You know what, I totally get it.  With all that goes on during the workday, responding to reviews is somewhere on the priority list with eating lunch.  And in this industry, we all know an hour-long lunch break is a luxury.  Responding to reviews takes time; and for property management professionals, time, just like lunch, is a luxury. In my last article, I wrote “Many think it’s easier to have a bank of ready-to-go responses, but as renters tend to read an average of 6-10 reviews per community, repeat and formulaic responses are complete turn-offs.”  And it’s true!  We’ve been conducting conversations with renters for the past 3 months and here a few direct quotes from some of the over 100 interviews we’ve had so far. REVIEW RESPONSE: Thank you for taking time to leave a review to help us improve our community. Your feedback is important to us as we want our residents to be comfortable and satisfied with their living experience. If you wish to add any more details, please email us at XXX to discuss. QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this response? “It's nice that the manager took the time to post however I wonder if the answer is a pre-made one. Seems like a copy/paste kind of thing.” “This response feels kind of canned, very robotic.  The intentions are good but this response could apply to any review, positive or negative.” “Where are the specifics? None of the resident’s issues are addressed. A response like this would make me mad if I was th......
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The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations

The Positive Impact of ORM on Apartment Operations
If you were asked to provide an example of just how much the multifamily industry has changed over the years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more powerful one than the emergence of online review sites like Yelp and Google. As apartment communities across the country have learned, reviews posted by residents and prospects – and the online responses of operators – can make the difference between sinking and swimming. Consider this: according to a Kingsley Associates study conducted on behalf of RentPath, 91.4 percent of apartment shoppers rely on reviews and ratings at least to some extent when looking for their next home. These days, effective online reputation management (ORM) is absolutely vital to a community's success. But it's also important that operators and their onsite staffs not become intimidated by ORM or view it as a form of drudgery, simply yet another item to be checked off the daily to-do list.  Instead, apartment companies should embrace ORM enthusiastically and look at it not only as a necessary endeavor in today's marketplace but as a great opportunity to improve their operations. Free Market ResearchForward-thinking operators know that a robust ORM program can produce more than a slew of five-star ratings. They have realized that the honest online feedback can serve as invaluable – and free – market research into how to improve operations at their communities.  That's because when they're motivated to leave an online review, residents are inclined to provide the kind of raw and honest assessments they might not pro......
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Is Your Property Being Trolled?

Is Your Property Being Trolled?
When an irate resident decides to troll or leave negative reviews for your property or properties managed by your company on multiple review sites repeatedly, what do you do? Don’t be afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with trolls firmly, but professionally. Here’s why: content is king. Residents and apartment shoppers have become more discerning and sophisticated in interacting with online reviews and responses. When analyzing a review, they filter facts from emotional outbursts and look for recurring complaints in areas of apartment living that are most relevant to them. Apartment shoppers notice manager responses, and they expect a genuine and personalized response with a problem-solving attitude. Below are some handy tips to deal with trolls effectively. Get the facts. Gather the facts on the situation described by the reviewer. Your response should be armed with facts to stop any further controversy or dispel any rumors about your property. Your groundwork should include:   What’s the status of the reviewer—prospect, current or former resident, or a guest? Talk to everyone involved—the office and/or the maintenance staff. What is the nature of the problem? Is it a recurring issue highlighted by other reviewers, for instance, bed begs, pests, and nonfunctional amenities, or is it a staff complaint? Was any attempt made to diffuse the situation by communicating with the reviewer and offering a resolution to his/her concerns? What was the outcome of your efforts—was the reviewer receptive to the solution you offered?   For instance, one of the most common conflicts i......
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Think offline, when responding online.

As we approach the final weeks of 2013, I am very excited to announce that we have officially implemented our Online Reputation Management (ORM) program — which includes setting up Manager Center on ApartmentRatings.com. I look at this program launch as the next logical step in "embracing the conversation," and as with our social assets, our on-site teams are responsible for crafting responses to any comments that are posted online, with our corporate team stepping in to help when needed. We have used this strategy across all 50+ of our community Facebook pages, and it's worked incredibly well for us.  Though review sites have been dubbed the Wild West of the digital world, we encourage our teams to simply think "offline" when responding online: in other words, think about what you'd say in an offline conversation, and then apply that to the online space. The below is taken verbatim from our ORM guidelines, and is at the core of our social/ORM philosophy: Address each issue individually, and respond in a courteous, authentic, and professional way. There's nothing fancy about that statement, but since tone can be tough to distinguish online, we have found that employing the "KISS" approach often works best: be professional, be authentic, and be helpful, and you've effectively addressed 99% of the negative comments that are posted online. If you're trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into managing your online reviews, I'd encourage you to mull something over: if people are talking about your c......
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