Sites like RateMyAgent, not to mention Google and Facebook, have made online reviews a big part of the marketing landscape in Australian real estate. Brock, Kathryn and Scott from Kolmeo get into why reviews matter, using them to your advantage and what to do with feedback from customers, whether delivered online or face to face.
So many of us now work in a business that thrives or fails based on public customer ratings and comments. While this makes us a little nostalgic for a time when feedback was shared one-on-one, we definitely think it’s a good thing that customers can view star ratings and hear a range of opinions on a product or service before deciding to part with their hard earned cash.
Our Kolmeo team and app are all about giving property management customers a better experience. And we wouldn’t be able to do that without reviews and feedback, including the negative ones. When you engage with review platforms proactively, you stand a much better chance of having them work in your favour. Plus, any business has a lot to gain from these opportunities to hear from customers about what is and isn’t working and how they could polish up their act with processes and service delivery.
Resourcing your review response
With the number of review sites out there now, dedicating time to reputation management across all of them can be a very tall order. If you’re heading up a bigger company, it’s worth having someone to take charge of this and select forums where customers are most likely to view your services. Covering Google and Facebook is probably essential. For other sites you might pay to be listed and reviewed so it’s up to you to decide if it’s a forum your customer base are likely to visit.
When you have a smaller rent roll and team, you’ll have to prioritise even more and share out the review responsibilities. Perhaps your sales and admin team members can take turns, or one or two can take on a platform each. You can also save your team a lot of time by setting them up with pro forma responses they can use for the type of problems that keep cropping up.
Look after your feedback loop
This last point goes to the heart of what reviews mean for your business. When a customer complaint posted publicly is a one-off, a polite acknowledgement is enough to let the wider world know you’re a business that listens. If a problem is coming up time and again, then a well-written online response is no longer enough. Instead, take it as a sign that something in your customer experience needs attention.
This is a great opportunity to give your team some well-considered feedback. As well as honing in on the problem and brainstorming possible solutions, it’s also good to throw in some context about the nature of online reviews in general and what they mean for service professionals like property managers. By starting with the assumption that a conversation with a tenant or owner could end up on a review site, your team can focus more on what they can do during that interaction to leave their customer feeling positive.
If any team members are feeling less confident and capable about keeping that positive energy when conflict comes up – as it can in any service situation – try role-playing to help them get the hang of it. Rewards for positive customer reviews work a treat too, particularly if you get to celebrate these successes as a team.
Taking it on the chin
Even with a customer service dream team, who never have a bad day, you can’t expect to impress every owner and tenant enough to avoid negative reviews altogether. When these less than glowing reviews do come up, how you respond can also show your business in a more positive light.
Being active in response to reviews on select platforms and showing you’re willing to hear criticism as well as make changes to how you look after customers, can really put a handful of bad reviews in perspective. Comments that show you’re listening instead of being defensive let prospective customers know you’re ready to engage with them and that you’ll do your best to right wrongs in the future.
Get on the front foot
One of the fundamental strategies for keeping negative reviews to a minimum on public platforms is to have your very own system for capturing feedback from customers. This is really important because most people take to review sites to air their grievances as a last resort. By giving customers a chance to be heard in the first place they’re less likely to resort to venting online.
Take Kathryn’s recent haircut for example. Just hours after her appointment, she received a text from the salon checking in with her and encouraging her to leave a Google review if she felt good about her experience. The message also suggested she reply to the SMS for a call back if she was in any way unhappy with their service or her new do.
We think this deserves five stars for best practice review management. Not only is the business inviting positive public feedback, they’re also opening a direct feedback loop for anything negative. The timing and use of SMS are also on point, giving Kathryn a quick and easy way to respond, whether she’s happy with her experience or not.
Tools to listen and respond
For a head start on smart solutions for collecting feedback, Kolmeo have got property managers covered. Using the app means you’ll have review prompts built in for key points in the tenant and owner journey. And when they submit a rating or comment, this triggers a workflow to prompt team members to respond within a reasonable timeframe.
Technology may have released the review genie from the bottle, but it’s also delivering the tools to help your business take ownership of feedback and give customers a chance to be heard without resorting to a public forum.