Cracking the Code: How to Respond to Online Reviews


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Online reviews can make or break your business. According to Hubspot, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In an age when online reviews – on sites like Yelp,, Google+ Local, Angie’s List, etc. – have proven to increasingly influence offline consumer behavior, what’s a business to do? How do you respond in ways that maximize a glowing review’s word-of-mouse potential, while also understanding the impact that a negative review can make on your bottom line? Do you find that responding to a review fuels an online argument rather than diffuses it?

Join Ansley Sudderth, Social Media Training and Communications Coordinator with For Rent Media Solutions™ as she provides answers to these commonly asked questions. You'll leave this #FRMSChat knowing how to craft a diplomatic response to negative reviews, boost brand advocacy using positive reviews and create calls to action to get residents and prospects alike to review your property.

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  • Good afternoon everyone, I’m AnsleySudderth, Social media training and communications coordinator with For Rent Media Solutions. Thanks for joining me today. It’s hard to believe this is the last FRMSchat of 2013! We’ve covered some great topics of the last year and we’re closing this series with a session that shares best practices for responding to online reviews.
  • So before we get started, we are using the hashtag #FRMSChat on twitter so if you have any feedback, questions or maybe some insight, feel free to use the hashtag and one person using our hashtag will receive a $20 gift card! And we’ll announce the winner at the end of the webinar so sit back and relax!
  • I based today’s outline on commonly asked questions regarding ratings and reviews like: How Should I respond? How Do I respond, Why don’t residents leave reviews, why do I have maore negative reviews than positive ones and lastly, How can I capture positive reviews?All important questions and we will cover each one during our session. At the end of our session, we will share a few valuable links so be on the lookout, then we’ll wrap things up with any Q&A that wasn’t answered during the webinar. We have one of our For Rent social media experts on the twitter chat to interact with you and for those of you not on Twitter, don’t worry, we will be sending a follow up email with the links to today’s resources.
  • When you see a new review posted about your property, how do you feel? Well, if it’s positive, you probably feel great abut what if it’s negative? Does the pit of your stomach drop when you think about having to respond? Many people feel this way but I want o let you know that responding to review should NOT be scary or daunting! There’s no tricky formula to it. By the end of this session, we hope you’ll have a new found confidence in addressing reviews of every sentiment.
  • Let’s start here with ‘why’. Some of you may be new to the multifamily or real estate space and don’t really see the urgency in responding to online reviews.
  • This is what the online consumer’s search behavior looks like. A consumer is going to a search engine like Google for example and type in a phrase like: apartments for rent in Atlanta. Then an ILS like will show. Once an apartment shopper has found a community that fits their price and location criteria, they are going to begin sourcing for peer opinions online on sites like Yelp, Google+, Bing Local and Apartment Reviews.
  • This is called pre-shopping and pre-shopping is a daily habit. 84% of all shoppers conduct an online search on the way to solidifying a purchase. Most of the time, this is done before a consumer makes their final purchase decision.
  • Word of mouse heavilyinfluences decision-making as well. 92% of consumers trust the opinions of a review left by a perfect stranger.
  • These stats just go on to show that we will trust the opinion of someone we don’t know more than experts, advertising and celebrities combined!
  • Would you rather a consumer with the intent to pay come up against unanswered reviews left by a perfect stranger or would you rather the consumer see reviews that have been answered showing them that you are actively listening in to what’s being said about you online? Remember, 84% of consumers are willing to make a purchase so don’t keep them from becoming a resident due to unanswered reviews.
  • When you justify your non response to the fact that the review was anonymous and there’s no way the situation can be mitigated, remember that anonymity gives disgruntled residents the power to speak from an emotional place.That should not keep you from responding.
  • Respond to the review even if it’s completely fabricated! According to us and Tina Fey, false reviews are not cool at all but the reality is that they are out there. Think of this as your opportunity to state the facts and if anything, a prospect who stumbles upon the review will see that your community is addressing the issue head on which speaks to being a transparent brand.
  • If you’re still wondering why it’s important to respond to reviews, responding quiets those who throw your name in the mud under the guise of anonymity. Most of the time, a past or present resident is coming from an emotionally charged place and is looking to get a rise because they don’t think you’ll actually respond. Respond, but do so in a polite and diplomatic manner.
  • Don’t just focus on the negative reviews. Respond to reviews of good experiences and those of negative experiences. One sentiment is just as powerful as the other. Your reciprocation is going to encourage positive reviewers to keep saying great things and it’s going to make everyone feel like they are being heard.
  • Responding is good for you SEO. When a consumer types your name in a search query on Google, your website, your internet ad and online listing site will populate in the search. Review sites are gaining more clout with search engines because they influence where your business is positioned in local search engine page results. In 2011, Google purchased Zagat, an online review service that allows people to score a business and leave comments about their experience. Since reviews are opinions from the local community, Google displays them and uses these “social signals,” along with other criteria, to determine where a local business is positioned. Bing is following suit with customer reviews on Yelp. Essentially, the more reviews the better, and positive reviews are best.
  • We all know that a brand’s image is in the hands of public perception but ultimately the things a brand does impacts its reputation. When you don’t have 100% control of your brand image, it’s important to do everything on your power to safeguard your reputation and responding to reviews is a way to do just that.
  • So by responding to online reviews, not only are you helping increase your digital footprint and boost SEO, you’re safeguarding your brand with social listening.
  • Here’s the thing about reviews… The sentiment can be hard to gauge if you’re just looking at the stars.
  • Understanding online star ratings requires more than just looking a 4 star review and assuming it’s positive. Each review is either accurately or loosely based on someone’s experience.
  • That’s why we have the feature of In Ad Reviews which serves up not only the star rating but the actual review for you to read and decide for yourself if you’d like that review to be shown on your For Rent online ad or not. If this is a feature you’d like to learn about, just get with your account rep and they can walk you through it or they’ll out you in touch with me.
  • Before we move on, we have a poll I want to know who handles responding to reviews at your community?
  • The fact of the matter is that everyone from corporate to staff to maintenance should know how to handle reviews. For example, if a resident has an in person encounter with you or anyone on your staff, and share a positive or negative experience, wouldn’t you want to handle it in house offline and behind closed doors? Make sure your people know how to speak to residents and prospects to deter them from sharing their negative reviews online!
  • Conversations are taking place about your apartment community right now. What are you doing to ensure that you’re responding in a timely and appropriate, manner, to both positive and negative ratings and reviews? Think about what you expect or anticipate when reading reviews. No oneexpects a business to be flawless; however, we do expect them to respond professionally and with a solution.
  • The first way to know how to respond is to know who you’re talking to. Yourresidentsandprospects want to know that you are listening and will be reactive to the questions, praise and concerns they share. Understand your audience.
  • Don’trespondinamechanical,robotic manner. This may have to be a hybrid of you tweaking the corporate response to be more humanized. Specifically address the issue. Don’t pretend like you are in the dark unless your are. An audience can see through marketing messages and mechanical responses. Be real, genuine and passionate aboutwhat you do, and let that show through your community’s personality.
  • Always aim to win over a disgruntled resident with a solution. Puteffortintoyourresponseand emphasize that you and your property cares. Show that you are working towards resolution and you have reachedout to resolve their concerns. If you can’t offer a solution immediately, don’t over promise that you can. Be realistic with your solutions. Even if a situation is only 50% resolved, that’s better than 0%.
  • In instances where an immediate response can quiet a disgruntled review, the last thing you want to do is let time go by. Respondas quickly as possible,and try to address the issue before your audience points it out.
  • Vocalizeyour appreciation of suggestions and feedback of both negative and positive sentiment, and use negative feedback as constructive criticism. Active social listening is one of the most important ingredients to maintaining your reputation.
  • Don’t be afraid to say you were wrong and be quick to make changes when you are. Admit your shortcomings and have a social media PR crisis management plan in place in case you need to act on it.
  • This is where many of us go off course because we let our emotions get the best of us! As a leasing professional, you have to respond and reflect your brand but you’re still human. Whenitcomes to negative reviews, be respectful of the rights and interests of others. Leaving a review is free speech and everyone has that right. Remember, reviews are all opinion-based. When disagreeing with others’ opinions, do not allow your personal preferences to affect your professional demeanor. Keep it appropriate and polite.
  • Lastly, it’sbestnottoidentifytheresident or prospect’s fault in the situation. That’s not the main objective here. The main goal is to mitigate the situation as quickly as possible and pointing the finger just creates room for an improptu online tennis match where everyone’s invited.
  • Another question you may be asking is: Why don’t residents leave reviews at all?
  • For those residents that have a positive thing to say, most of the time they aren’t sharing it online because there is no incentive or motivation to do so. In a moment, we will cover some ways you can provide that incentive and motivate your residents to leave positive reviews.
  • You may be seeing that the majority of your online reviews are negative and don’t understand why that is
  • How many of you feel like no matter what you do, people look at your online reviews as a vent sessions? Here’s why…
  • If you think about it, we feel compelled to leave a review immediately after something has motivated us to do so. Often times, a reviews follows a negative experience. 94% of people are more willing to share a bad experience than a good one. This is not so good for brands that don’t deliver good experiences.
  • One way you can keep this from happening is by delivering on your promises. If you can’t deliver, you need to scale back and come up with a marketing strategy that’s more realistic. After all, broken promises lead to
  • Not so great reviews and who wants to clean up that mess?!
  • You probably have the intention to capture positive reviews abut just don’t know how to go about doing it. The first step of getting a positive reviews is by simply asking! This can often be the hardest step jut because human nature is afraid of rejection.
  • To make the asking process less intimidating, ask those resident you feel comfortable with and you know have great things to say. Word of mouse travels fast online so all you need to do is get the ball rolling. We also have a printable pdf of business-size review cards you can print and hand out to residents to give them a call to act.
  • Let it happen organically. It goes back to customer service and giving your residents a positive living experience. If they have something to praise you about, they will!
  • How many times a day do you email a resident or prospect? What if you include a link to the places they can leave a positive review inside of your email signature? Make it easy for them.
  • Often, you may not even see your new resident until they move in and come to the leasing office to pick up their keys! Also, at the time a prospect signs a lease, you can ask if the new resident has had a positive experience while leasing. If they did, encourage them to share their thoughts on a review site like Google+ or Yelp. This can be the best time to ask, since they are excited to move into their new home.
  • If a resident that is moving out had a positive experience, send them a follow-up email to encourage them to share their thoughts on a review site of their choice.
  • Many residents are most influenced by their experience with the frequency of work order fulfillment- so it is ideal to solicit feedback and capture a review at the close of each work order if it was a positive experience. After the work order or call back, if the resident had a positive experience, send the resident a follow- up email asking for the review.
  • When a resident says something positive about their experience in a casual conversation at your apartment community or at a resident event, these are also great times to direct them to review sites. Be prepared in advance and have thise Review Cards printed or local listings on review sites bookmarked on your computer and send them straight there!
  • With all of these tips, you’re sure to be a rock star responder and I know you’ll be able to handle any reviews that come your way!
  • I want to quickly share some links I think will help you with applying today’s topic.
  • We’ve tweeted most of these during the session so make sure you go to Twitter to get the links. We will also share these with you now.
  • At this time, I’m happy to take any questions you may have. As question start to come in, we are going to get ready to announce moment you’ve been waiting for!
  • While we’re getting questions…The holidays are here! ‘Tis the season to celebrate with friends and family, savor the joy, and spread holiday spirit. At For Rent Media Solutions (FRMS), the holiday season is a time to spread cheer by giving back to all those in need, both in the local community and across the nation. As a token of our appreciation for all customers, including visitors, leasing staff, property management companies, vendors and partners, as well as the FRMS team, a Toys for Tots donation is being made in your honor. FRMS employees across the country are also giving back by collecting toys for their local Toys for Tots charities.As the end of 2013 grows near, the entire For Rent Media Solutions team wants to thank you, as always, for being a valued customer. May you have a warm, happy holiday season, and a peaceful, prosperous New Year!
  • Let’s announce today’s winner! The winner is… Congrats and thanks for participating on Twitter. If you would, please DM us your info and we will get your gift card in the mail!
  • Thanks to all of you who are listening. We hope you feel confident in responding to online reviews with these tips. Before you go, make sure you follow and Like us on our social channels, we absolutely love interacting with you! That being said, everyone have a great and safe holiday and I will speak with you in 2014!
  • Cracking the Code: How to Respond to Online Reviews

    1. 1. Cracking the Code: How to Respond to Online Reviews Ansley Sudderth Social Media Training & Communications Coordinator
    2. 2. Join in the conversation! Chat with @AptsForRent for the chance to win $20!
    3. 3. Agenda • • • • • • • Why Should I Respond? How Do I Respond? Why Don’t People Leave Reviews? Why Do I Have More Negative Reviews? How Can I Capture Positive Reviews? Valuable Links Q&A
    4. 4. Online reviews can be confusing!
    5. 5. Why Should I Respond?
    6. 6. Online anonymity looks something like...
    7. 7. False reviews are…
    8. 8. Responding Quiets the Anonymous
    9. 9. Responding Validates All Sentiments
    10. 10. Responding Drives SEO
    11. 11. Responding Safeguards Your Reputation
    12. 12. The Thing About Reviews…
    13. 13. In-Ad Reviews
    14. 14. Poll Question
    15. 15. Who handles responding to reviews at your community?
    16. 16. Everyone!
    17. 17. How Do I Respond?
    18. 18. Understand Your Audience
    19. 19. Be Authentic
    20. 20. Offer a Solution
    21. 21. Keep It Timely
    22. 22. Actively Listen
    23. 23. Learn from Past Mistakes and Be ‘Flawsome’
    24. 24. Be Courteous and Professional Don’t do this!
    25. 25. Don’t Point the Finger
    26. 26. Why Don’t Residents Leave Reviews?
    27. 27. No Incentive
    28. 28. Why Do I Have More Negative Reviews?
    29. 29. Leads to…
    30. 30. Horrible reviews!
    31. 31. How Can I Capture Positive Reviews?
    32. 32. Just Ask!
    33. 33. Email Signature Jane Doe River Run Village Apartments Leasing Manager p: 404-234-5678 e: See what others have to say about River Run Village on:
    34. 34. First Encounter: Move-In
    35. 35. Move Out
    36. 36. Completed Work Order
    37. 37. Office Visit/General Conversation
    38. 38. Go you!
    39. 39. Valuable Links
    40. 40. Valuable Links • Blog post: Six Steps in Building Your Online Reputation • Helpful pdf: How to Get Your Customers to Review Your Business usniess • Printable pdf: Online Listings Review Cards • Happy Holidays from FRMS!
    41. 41. Q&A
    42. 42. Photo and Statistics Credit