AIM 2010 Online Reputation Management ( ORM ) Dealing with Customer Feedback… a.k.a. “ORM Wrestling” B. Kevin Thompson VP Marketing, AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
What am I supposed to do with this?!
“ Great place to meet good looking babes! But you got to have big gonads and chat them up when in the elevator. If you're a shy loser, forget about it. I've made it with 4 chicks here in the last two years. Some of these chicks are really starving for the big beef platter but you got to make the first move.”
ApartmentRatings.com posting at Avalon Prudential Center, Boston, MA
Is this how your company views “Customer Service”?
Your online reputation drives purchase decisions (= more leads)
77% of prospects use reviews and ratings when shopping
92.5% said they regularly research products/companies online before making a purchase decision.
68% of Facebook users are more likely to purchase based on a FB Friend referral
It takes between 2 and 10 seconds to make a decision online. Good or bad feedback can dramatically influence that decision.
Customer Feedback Sites provide organic relevancy for your brand
Search Engine Optimization + Search Engine Marketing + Social Media Optimization
Why even care about Customer Feedback? Obviously, to enhance the satisfaction & happiness of your customers. But…if you work for an evil company, then just do it for these selfish reasons:
How (and why) to connect to customers? Some thoughts to ponder:
The strongest customer relationships are built through authentic conversations and interactions .
We have to engage with them!
Customer voices carry far more credibility than the brand voice.
It’s about “me” the customer, not “me” the product provider.
Passionate customer voices are the cornerstone of a successful brand.
We don’t own the brand. The consumer does. Our job is to try and influence their opinion of the brand.
Customers not only experience the brand…they become part of the brand! We must provide them with a “return on emotion”.
Customers want to help you make your product successful.
Customer Service has become its own powerful media channel .
Making Online Reputation Management a priority is vital to your company’s overall success.
Evolution of Customer Feedback Response
Ignore it (or have your lawyer send a cease & desist)
Give it a low response priority
Customer experiences and expectations within other industries now demand prompt feedback/follow-up within the multifamily industry
You should at least be in the “listening” phase
Successful companies will have an “engagement” process in place (if not already)
Evolve or die
Developing a Social Response Strategy
E nterprise G enerated C ontent (Corp. Websites)
M ain S tream M edia (MSM Blogs, Forums)
C onsumer G enerated C ontent (Social Media, Consumer Blogs, AptRatings.com)
Engage the Consumer:
Track Leads (Traffic)
(Repeat Step 1)
Listen Map the Landscape Engage Meet them on their turf Measure Test, then invest
AvalonBay Communities A peek under our dress…
We have an active response/engagement program in place, but still have room for improvement
We track every comment (pos/neg/neut) on AptRatings, Yelp, and ApartmentReview; and also track all “Avalon”-related keywords on Twitter and other social, news/media sites
Approximately 50 feedback comments per day (avg 3/week/community)
We average 2.8 and 2.9 (out of 5) on AptRatings and Yelp, respectively. (This is an improvement from the past year)
Our training department and marketing team are working with on-site associates to help them respond appropriately.
AptRatings and/or Yelp are consistently in our Top 50 upstream/downstream sites. Whether we like it or not, feedback sites are here to stay.
Lessons Learned & Advice to Others
In order for Online Reputation to be effective, you must have Senior Mgmt support , and it must radiate to every onsite associate .
Track all responses.
Even the anonymous feedback on AptRatings
You need to have a centralized point of entry for all comments, from which you respond or distribute.
Provides accountability and assurance of response
You can’t ignore the feedback.
Set up “Green, Yellow, Red” tiered response system. (Have an approved response protocol and response templates available)
Remember, in a world of commodity products, having an excellent customer service reputation differentiates you as much, if not more , than an established brand platform.
Embrace customer feedback !
Ask for reviews (from both prospects and residents)
Looking to the Future Opportunities in ORM
The industry needs a non-biased, third-party endorsement/rating system across all products (similar to the hotel’s diamond rating system)
Technology needs to help us merge auto-responses (including dynamically generated content) with a “live” personalized response.
Live links from feedback sites hosted directly on community pages.
This requires letting the world see you in all your “glory”…the beauty marks and the warts.
The conversation is already happening with or without you now. The sooner you get engaged, the better.
People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
AvalonMarketing Become a Fan of Avalon Communities… AvalonBay Communities