According to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors, review signals are one of the fastest growing thematic signals for local search. David Mihm, founder of Tidings and former Director of Local Search Strategy for Moz said, “Whether the increased ranking is due to review volume, keywords in review content, or the increased clickthrough rate those gold stars yield, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. I just know that for most businesses, it’s the area of local SEO I’d invest the most time and effort into getting right – and done well, should also have a much more important flywheel effect of helping you build a better business, as the guys at GatherUp have been talking about for years.”

In addition to the impact they have on local search, reviews carry even more revenue impact because of their reach. Knowing how to manage your online reputation, especially how to respond to negative reviews, allows you to own some of this very public and open feedback.

Let’s discuss best practices for streamlining your team’s review management, how to respond to criticism, and tracking your progress to improve the customer experience.

How to Manage your Online Reputation

The first rule is simple: always respond to every review, both positive and negative. Your reputation is valuable, and one negative online review can drive away 30 potential leads. Responding to negative reviews does two things: first, it shows the wider audience that you are paying attention to criticism, owning up to mistakes, and taking the time to engage with residents. Responding also impacts what the reviewer does next. When negative reviews are responded to, 33 percent of reviewers will follow-up with a positive review about the resolution. Another 34 percent will delete their negative review altogether.

Develop a Review Management Strategy

Before you begin responding to reviews, develop a streamlined management strategy so that all team members know exactly how and when to respond to a review. First, decide who is responsible for responding. If you have numerous communities, should each location respond to their own reviews? Should regional or corporate offices respond? Or, do you outsource responses to a third-party management agency? There are pros and cons to each option. When deciding, remember that authentic, transparent responses will have the most positive impact on a negative review. It comes down what will be the most efficient, consistent, and well-managed option for your company.

Find Your Voice and Be Consistent

Work with your team to create a tone and response style that fits your overall brand, image, and location. The key here is to keep it a personal, human response. Own up to your mistakes, but don’t go overboard. Your team needs to know how to respond without getting too transparent or apologetic. Once you know how to monitor and respond to reviews, stick with it and stay consistent. This will make the process more efficient, as well increase your brand strength.

Know How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Just how do you respond to negative reviews? First, apologize and thank the reviewer for their feedback. Be specific when you address the issue and respond appropriately. If the reviewer is especially agitated, you might want to invite them to continue the conversation offline, either through private message, over the phone, email, or in person. If the review was posted on a site that doesn’t use private messages (Yelp, Google), include your direct contact information in your response. Regardless of the issue, it’s best to keep the response short and sweet. Stay specific to the issue at hand, rather than going further down the rabbit hole or over-explaining to a point where additional issues might come up.

Analyze Engagement and Look for Ways to Improve

Reputation management does more than maximize the revenue impact of online reviews. It can also be a valuable tool to show areas that need improvement, indicators for new goals and benchmarks, and give insight on how to increase social media engagement. What goals do you have for your online platform, particularly those with review opportunities? Reputation and social goals should align with your company’s overall sales and revenue goals, with clear definition of the value and purpose of each goal.

Don’t Ignore Positive Reviews, Either  

Include guidelines for responding to positive reviews in your overall strategy as well. Thank the reviewer for their positive review and invite them back. This is not the time to use a generic, scripted response. Refer back to their review and the specific details that stood out to them. This will reinforce the overall positive experience. It will also give leads who haven’t yet visited your property or spoken to a staff person reasons to expect a helpful customer experience, beautiful new apartment home, engaging community, and valuable amenities.

Review Management with G5 Reputation and Social

G5 Rep and Social puts you back in the driver’s seat so you can stay informed about conversations happening across social and review channels. Use a single dashboard to monitor reviews, respond, and engage directly. We will also share sentiment reporting with you, so you can understand the emotion behind what’s being said about your brand online.