Online reviews can either make or break your business! Potential residents almost always search for a property, company or building before considering moving in, and too many bad reviews could stop them from giving you any consideration. Even the best property managers are vulnerable to the occasional bad review. Sometimes, the review could be filled with false information and slander due to a highly emotional prospect or resident, believing their experience was much worse than it actually was. It is important to respond to all negative reviews with the same principles.  Respond promptly, work to fix the issue, and learn from it, if possible. 

While you can’t prevent people from rating your business poorly, you can take steps to help improve your reputation and customer service. With that said, here are 7 steps to help you craft the right response to negative online reviews. 

Address the Reviewer by Name 

In general, people want to be heard individually and addressed personally. It is best to skip generic greetings such as “Dear Resident” and address reviewers by their first names. Since most reviews are on either Google or Facebook, you can usually get the first name of the reviewer so that you can properly address them. 

Say Thank You 

Tell your residents that you appreciate their candid feedback and always remember to say thank you in replies to reviews (even the bad ones). 

Some examples include: 

“Thanks for the review. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a frustrating experience, but I appreciate you drawing my attention to this issue.” 

“Thank you for bringing our attention to this. We’re sorry for the experience you’ve had, and we are going to try and do better.” 

“Thank you for informing us of this. Your feedback is helping us make things better. We’re investigating the issue, and we plan to resolve it quickly.” 

Always Apologize 

Saying sorry is important because it shows that you care about your residents, and you’re not too stubborn to own your faults. Even if the situation at hand is not your fault, say sorry anyway. People do not like businesses that are too proud to apologize. 

Keep your apologies short and sweet: 

“We would like to apologize for your recent experience.” 

“We’re so sorry that your experience has not fit your expectations.” 

“We pride ourselves on our service and the high-quality standards we maintain at our property. We want to make things right.” 

Take Responsibility 

Don’t make excuses. Even if what happened was a rare instance or an off-day – consider the perspective of the reviewer. Offer reassurance that you are holding yourself to high standards. 

Some good examples are: 

“I am very sorry. We’re usually known for our excellent attention to detail, and we’re sorry that we missed the mark.” 

“We aim to bring a great experience to our residents. Thank you for taking the time to draw our attention to this. We’ll use these suggestions to help us improve and make sure this doesn’t happen again.” 

“We’re sorry to hear about your less than satisfactory experience with (Company) and hope you’ll accept our sincere apologies. We will be reaching out soon, and you should get a (call/email) from (name) to determine how we can provide a solution that makes you happy.” 

Have a Proactive Strategy 

Having a draft of a standard reply can come in handy, as it prevents you from being blindsided. You’ll know that you’ve already written a large portion of the response – and it can keep you from writing something defensive or rude. Your reply should be calm, courteous, and emphasize a genuine desire to solve the problem. 

Below is an example of a good standard reply: 

In this response, the owner does the following: 

  1. Addresses the reviewer  
  2. Offers an apology 
  3. States that they strive to serve excellent service 
  4. Lets them know their feedback is going to be taken seriously 
  5. Thanks them for their review 

Offer to Resolve any Issues 

If the bad review is valid, then your response should include an attempt to solve the problem. An offer to fix things will go a long way towards building your dedication to excellent customer service. It is a crucial part of turning a negative experience into a positive one. 

If it’s not immediately apparent what a successful solution would be, take the conversation offline and ask what they think a reasonable solution is. Do not hold a lengthy back-and-forth discussion with the reviewer on a public site. This draws more attention to the negative review, and makes you look defensive. It is always best to get the reviewer’s contact information and discuss the issue privately. 

Convert Negative Reviews to Positive Reviews 

Once a solution is reached, it is completely fine to ask the reviewer to post a positive review, or to remove the negative one. If they agree, you have turned a bad review into a good one for future customers to see – and improved your opportunity to provide excellent customer service. 

Although responding to negative reviews can be difficult, it is an integral part of reputation management. Nearly 90 percent of consumers trust online reviews, and just as many read the responses that companies provide to those reviews. 

Bad reviews can be disappointing, but by following these steps, you can translate bad reviews into better management and customer service.