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The best way to handle negative reviews

It can be quite a challenge for property managers to manage the myriad of online review platforms alongside the day job of managing a busy portfolio. But you shouldn't panic if you get a negative review, says Debbie Palmer, the lessons you learn can be invaluable.

The latest review platform, outside Facebook and Google, for property management departments, is a website called ‘Don’t Rent Me’. I recommend you check it out if you’re not familiar, to see whether you or your agency has been featured on what they call ‘The Wall of Shame’.

Following many telephone calls and messages from property managers wanting guidance in how to manage these negative reviews, here are some key points to assist you in responding so that your agency can stand out as professionals who care about their clients and customers.

  • Monitor all online reviews. Dedicate this role to someone within the agency to check reviews regularly. You can set up Google alerts to notify you when your name or your agency’s name appears on the web.
  • Don’t take negative reviews personally. As hard as this may be, you need to remove the emotion from your response. There’s no need to stress if you receive a few bad reviews.
  • If it is a public review, respond as a business owner would. Stick to the facts; getting personal will only compound the issue and will reflect negatively on your agency. Always take time to respond, no matter how busy you are.
  • I recommend that you don’t allow posts on your Facebook page, only comments.

Negative reviews sometimes hurt, but they are valuable feedback that you can use to build a better business.

  • Restate the complaint in your response, remembering that the person is upset and wants to be heard. ‘I apologise that this has happened’ or ‘I’m sorry you feel this way…’. Be sure to highlight your strengths; don’t focus on the negative.
  • Don’t make excuses for the problem, as this can send a message that you are not owning how the person feels. Instead you could say, ’This was not our intention or usual process’ or ‘This was out of character for us and we would like to make it right’.
  • Work out the details privately. I recommend you provide your contact information and ask the tenant, landlord, client or customer to telephone or email you to discuss the matter further.
  • Most importantly, in my opinion, remember that people who frequent review sites or look for your business on social media know that not all your reviews will be perfect. Your response will be a stand-out in what they remember.
  • Finally, watch for patterns. If numerous people are posting complaints to your social media pages about slow service, rudeness and so on, this is something that may need to be discussed and addressed within your team. Negative reviews sometimes hurt, but they are valuable feedback you can use to build a better business.

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Debbie Palmer

Debbie Palmer is the Managing Director of the PPM Group (a national company specialising in property management workflow systems, training and coaching). Debbie is a multi-award winner for property management excellence and is well respected for facilitating in the process of creating high performing, productive and profitable teams. For more information visit ppmgroup.com.au.