If you are in management or customer service for any amount of time, you WILL encounter disgruntled clients. It is not a question of IF, but when. In multifamily there are very strong opinions and residents who are willing to discuss them because the service we provide is HOME. It’s time we stop avoiding talking about dealing with negative reviews/retaliation from residents.
It’s one thing to have an angry resident who takes to the internet to write a bad review of your property, but some residents can take their frustration to the next level. They can resort to retaliation or even revenge. Negative reviews can run the gamut from constructive complaints, to vindictively trying to hurt the property management.
As a property manager, there are productive ways you can deal with negative reviews and retaliation from residents without further damaging your property’s reputation:
Ignorance is NOT bliss: Don’t ignore the problem
Ignoring any kind of resident negativity will only further inflame the situation. Particularly harmful are negative online reviews as they can be seen by untold numbers of people and ignoring them won’t make it go away.
Dealing with negative reviews
Unless the original poster edits or takes down the negative reviews / comments, they will remain public indefinitely. This can be a problem if other future or current residents stumble upon the review and see no response from the property. It inadvertently validates the poster’s complaints. Lack of response also sends the message that the property doesn’t care or need to respond.
The customer is always right… but sometimes they’re not
Those in the multifamily industry know that their real industry is customer service. Apartment units alone do not keep residents renting. People want to rent from a place that makes them feel like they’re at home. Keeping residents happy and providing good customer service is the number one priority of any property.
That said, there will be times when you face an angry resident, or former resident, and you’ll remember the customer service adage, “the customer is always right.” For all intents and purposes, they are. Their opinion and perception is the one that matters, but they can also be factually incorrect.
Cordially state the facts to refute the negative reviews
For example, you may have a negative review from a resident who is upset about something because they misinterpreted the terms of their lease. While a lease is a legal document, and it is what it is, it’s still important to validate the resident’s feelings. Clearly communicating the facts while offering apologies for their frustration can alleviate a situation like this, even if the customer is in fact wrong.
Include your staff when responding to negative reviews
You have heard the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees”. This is how many people get themselves in trouble when dealing with issues. If you are entangled in an exchange, and especially if it’s getting heated, have one of your leasing agents read through your response. All too often we act on our emotions and hit “send” when someone not involved might give a different point of view. When responding to an angry resident online, it never hurts to bring in a fresh pair of eyes.
Suggest to the resident that you discuss in private
If a conversation seems to keep going back and forth, make it clear to the resident that you are happy to take the conversation offline and talk face to face or over the phone. It is very beneficial to try and work out differences in a manner that is not public for all to see.
Let it go, Let it goooo
(Sorry we just couldn’t stop ourselves from the Frozen reference!)
As the property manager, you do need a plan to acknowledge the problem, apologize and offer a possible solution. If a resident still seems dissatisfied, after honest efforts to resolve the problem, just try to move on. This is great advice for BOTH sides of any argument. Even after we’ve given it our best effort, apologized and responded to a resident’s complaint, there will be some who cannot let it go. Online forums and social media outlets make it too easy to go back and forth with comments without an end in sight. Sometimes it shows more wisdom to simply apologize and move on, that to continue the dispute.
Bury the negative reviews with good ones
If you have a negative review that cannot be remediated, the best course of action moving forward is to simply bury the bad review so that it is not the first thing potential residents see when they visit your pages. Run a campaign in your community, ask key residents and fill your page with more glowing responses that will help to devalue the single negative one.
In a property manager’s perfect world, there would be nothing but glowing 5-star reviews online. But, with how easy it is to complain on the Internet, chances are you will face a few negative reviews at some point. As long as you respond and give your best effort to hear them out, you will generally satisfy even your toughest residents. Do your best to turn a negative into a positive and when worst comes to worst disqualify the negative review with slews of positive ones. It’s all in a day’s work!
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