When companies are responding to online reviews, you’ll often see the same phrases repeated over and over. Phrases like “We’re sorry to hear…” “We’re happy to hear…” and “We strive to provide…” are beginning to lose their meaning because they’ve been used in millions of online responses. Many renters see those types of phrases as robotic-sounding, copied-and-pasted, and not specific enough.
Templates are an efficient way to communicate with residents because property teams have conversations with hundreds of residents a day, and manually typing out each response just isn’t realistic. Templates can also help keep the company’s brand and messaging consistent. There is one situation, however, where communication templates should be used lightly: responding to online reviews.
Make your residents feel cared for and heard by personalizing each response. Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve your responses to online reviews:
1. Respond to the reviewer as an individual
The resident didn’t copy-and-paste their entire response, so why should you? They took time out of their day to write a review, so your response should reflect a similar level of thought and attention.
Online reviews are sometimes rooted in emotion. Responding to that emotion in a tactful and personal way is critical. If a resident leaves an angry review, a canned response will most likely make them even more angry. All the resident wants is to feel heard. An impersonal, “Thank you for your feedback,” response is not going to accomplish this goal. Treating the reviewer as an individual can keep the issue from escalating.
2. Be specific
If the reviewer mentions a specific issue or compliments your community, reference it in your response so they know they’re being heard. If they’re complaining about an ongoing issue with A/C, repeat their complaint in your response and ask how you can contact them to resolve the issue. By doing this, you’re letting the resident know that you want to take action to make their experience better.
Responding to positive reviews is just as important as responding to negative ones! If a resident leaves a compliment, respond and thank them for being a part of the community. Responding to good reviews helps keep happy residents happy.
3. Give solutions
Respond to reviews with specific actions your team will take to resolve the issue. Being vague doesn’t give the resident any indication that you actually heard their complaint. For the extra-angry reviews, be as specific as possible. The reviewer wants to know you’re actually going to do something to improve their experience. Convince them by explaining how you’re going to do better next time.
In the example in step #2, could you imagine if Bill responded by saying, “Thank you for your feedback. Your opinion is very important to us, and we will pass this along to the management team”? A vague response like this is not going to assure Sarah her complaint will be dealt with properly. By giving as many details as possible, Sarah knows Bill actually read her review and is going to take concrete actions to solve the issue.
4. Stay professional
When personalizing responses, your team is more likely to respond with their own writing style. Be sure to communicate with your team about maintaining good grammar, spelling, and professionalism when writing responses. Too many exclamation points or poor grammar can make your company look unprofessional. You could give your team some simple writing guidelines to make sure their responses still sound professional. Grammarly is an amazing tool your team could utilize to guarantee responses are professional and grammatically correct.
Take a look at the differences between these two responses. By simply including a greeting and salutation, the response looks much more professional. Of course, other aspects like capitalization and punctuation make a big difference too.
5. Promote your brand
Responses to online reviews should reinforce what your company is all about. Use these responses to make your team stand out in the rental industry. The people reading your reviews and responses are often potential residents, so be sure to demonstrate the level of customer service they’ll receive if they decide to lease. If your team is responding to reviews in a specific and meaningful way, potential residents can see your company truly cares about the resident experience, making them more likely to lease!
How your team responds to online reviews has a major effect on the happiness of current and future residents. To improve more areas of the resident experience, take a comprehensive approach to resident happiness by aligning the entire team around the value of relationships.
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