More and more, potential tenants are referring to online property reviews before making their final decision on an apartment. In fact, a study done by the Harvard Business School found that 80 percent of customers changed their minds about a product due to a negative online review. As one of the most popular review sites, Yelp is notorious for not allowing business owners to remove undesirable reviews. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to remedy the situation. Fortunately, in the case of Yelp, there are a few instances where they will remove a review. These include:

  • Inappropriate content, such as threats or vulgar language
  • Promotional content
  • Content that publicize’s people’s private information
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Irrelevant content
  • Content that asks for payment
  • Plagiarized content

In many cases, negative reviews could fall into one of these categories. In order to get it taken down, you can flag it and the Yelp editorial team will take a closer look at these content infringements. One thing to keep in mind is that Yelp will not remove your entire business listing, so it’s important to not let your reputation get too dismal. Check out the guidelines on any review site you’ll be posting your business on prior to doing so.

Respond to Negative Reviews Privately and Publicly

Because reviews can’t be removed, it is essential that you take the time and effort to respond to your tenants’ concerns. You can do this in the form of a private message or a public reply, depending on how serious the situation is. If it’s public, try to take it offline before it gets heated. On that note, keep your cool–you don’t want people to think you can’t handle the situation. Check out Marketing Expert Jay Baer’s advice in this post on how to deal with the haters.

Research the Issue and the Customer

Investigate the incident the customer is talking about in their review. Look into their rental agreement file and see if there were any charges, fees, or maintenance requests that went unfilled. Do your best to understand the issue before you even begin to attempt a response.

Be Professional and Timely

Being courteous, polite, and professional is one of the most important aspects of replying to a negative review. If you insult or blame the customer, it will greatly exacerbate the situation and turn off potential tenants. Instead, own up to your mistakes and apologize for the inconveniences you caused your tenants. In order to make the response seem genuine, don’t use a generic copy-and-paste reply.

Being timely is another important aspect. Try to make sure that you reply to all reviews on the same day they are posted; this shows prospective tenants that you care about your customer’s issues and are highly responsive when it comes to problems.

Ask Them to Remove the Review
Finally, once you’ve made the situation right, you might want to ask the tenant to remove or alter their negative review. It’s important to be subtle about this point, as you don’t want people to think you are just trying to pay them off for good reviews.

Encourage Positive Reviews From the Start

What’s the best way to avoid negative reviews? Not having any in the first place. There are a few ways you can foster a good reviewer base to begin with, such as providing good customer service practices that inspire tenants to share their experiences. Many people don’t even consider writing reviews online, so bring up the idea by posting flyers on hallways or doors.

Check out our free eBook on how to build a better online brand.