Managing your apartment online reputation has become more crucial due to the impact of COVID-19. Even while many states are re-opening their economies , many residents are still spending a lot at home. As a result, major issues have undoubtedly arisen due to working from home, neighbors’ noise, closed amenities, maintenance requests, financial instability, etc.
Residents might be anxious over the pandemic situation and daily changes to life which can lead to a lot of pent up emotion and stress. That stress can lead people to vent or air out any concerns they have online in the form of online reviews. Communicating with your residents is the key to managing your apartment community’s online reputation. Not only can it help assist with your current residents’ difficulties but can also reassure your prospective residents.
Here, we will provide you with the best practices on how to incorporate reputation management into your on-going COVID-19 marketing strategy. These practices will help create higher quality social distancing interactions with your current residents and virtual experiences with your prospective and current residents.
Want to know why online reputation is so important for apartment marketing? Check out our blog on Why Your Online Reputation Directly Impacts Your Lease.
1. Handle online reviews with care
Reviews reflect your current residents’ experience and impact your prospective renters’ decisions. According to the recent survey by Podium, 93% of people say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
Positive reviews have a strong impact on your apartment reputation; however, negative reviews are also a strong tool in building your apartment reputation.
Here are some best practices and examples for responding to online reviews
- Use the reviewer’s name if it’s available
- For reviews regarding any issues, the on-site team should respond quickly and with empathy.
- Don’t be defensive, but supportive, understanding, and unbiased.
- Reuse their words from the review as a way to emphasize and prove that you’ve read their entire review.
- Should appreciation for positive reviews and support from your residents during the crisis.
- Always remember to thank your residents for review, no matter whether it’s positive or negative.
If you want to know more about responding to negative reviews, check out our blog on How to Respond to Negative Apartment Reviews.
2. Make The Latest Updates and News Easily Accessible
Because of the lack of in-person interactions and anxiety over this unprecedented situation, your residents and apartment team might face issues caused by miscommunication. Be clear, accurate, and open with all COVID-19 announcements. Maintaining clear communication and keeping your residents informed is very important right now. Strive toward being sympathetic and considerate by providing options to your residents who might experience personal challenges and job uncertainty.
General Questions and Information
As many states and cities are allowing businesses to set their own COVID-19 guidelines, it can be very confusing for everyone. Keep residents informed with easily accessible COVID-19 related updates.
When posting new information or updates, it’s best to post it in as many places as possible to ensure every resident will see the latest information.
Create a checklist of all announcement boards and ensure you are consistently updating them with every single announcement.
Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- Social media accounts
- Google My Business listing
- Leasing office door or announcement wall
- Hallways or stairwells
- Fitness center
One of the most common complaints left by apartment reviewers has to do with maintenance. COVID-19 has made it more difficult to perform maintenance safely for all involved, which has undoubtedly led to an increase in maintenance-related complaints.
To prevent online complaints, setting expectations with your current residents and providing clear guidance on how to virtually contact the on-site management team and maintenance team can go a long way in easing any concerns.
Also clearly communicate how your apartment community is working to keep them safe and secure during this difficult time.
Our suggestions for maintenance guidelines include:
- The number of days residents should expect to receive responses from the team.
- Give residents a heads up before visiting their unit.
- Remind your residents to maintain social distancing while the maintenance team is working.
- Follow CDC guidelines on wearing masks, gloves, etc. every time the maintenance team visits the units.
Having set guidelines for your staff and expectations for your residents can provide the groundwork for achieving a positive online reputation.
3. Highlight Your Virtual Experience
Just because COVID-19 has paved the way for virtual tours and leasing experiences, that doesn’t mean potential residents shouldn’t get the same level of quality service that they would receive in person. It can be very unsettling for potential residents to find a new home without actually seeing it in person first.
Train your on-site team to be empathetic, helpful, and attentive during all virtual tours or leasing. This will differentiate your community and establish trust between that new resident and your leasing team.
When people feel a sense of community they are less likely to leave negative reviews. Promote that sense of community with virtual events. Not only will you get to know your resident better, but you will provide them some much-needed relief.
Here are some ideas of virtual events to get you started:
- Furry Residents Night – Allow your residents to show their furry friends and share their funny pet stories.
- Bingo Night – Host a virtual bingo night for your residents and provide prizes like gift cards or streaming subscriptions.
- Cooking Night – Host a virtual cooking night where residents share delicious recipes with each other.
- Trivia Night – Host a themed trivia game with your residents and give out prizes.
If you want more ideas for engaging your residents, check out our blog on 7 Ways to Encourage Current Residents
By creating that sense of community, you will relieve any stress, built-up tension, or general unhappiness people could feel with your community.
At the end of the day, we all need to remember that everyone is struggling. As property managers and on-site teams, we know that it can be difficult when renters use online reviews as a space to vent out their anger. But now more than ever, the best thing we can do is to respond to reviews with a lot of empathy, sympathy, and positivity. Not only will that help improve your online reputation, it brings some much needed happiness into the world.
Need assistance with your reputation management? We offer reputation management services to multifamily communities across the US. Contact the REPLI team today to learn more!
Tong Zhao is a Digital Marketing Specialist specializing in analytics and reputation management.
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