Online Review Response

Why Removing Negative Reviews Can Be Worse Than Having a Low Score

by Paul Willis

When two children are fighting over the same toy, some parents might take it away. The toy is gone — problem solved. Or is it?

Reviews also don’t exactly work that way.

That doesn’t mean some property managers don’t try that approach and flag every negative review for removal. Rather than taking the time to address negative feedback, some would rather ignore it, find a way to make it disappear and hope the problem simply goes away.

Not only is that questionable from a customer-service standpoint, but a community’s reputation might further pay if your removal attempts are discovered. Angry residents won’t hesitate to put you on blast on the pages of Yelp!, Google, Facebook or other social channels if they believe they’re being ignored.

Here are a handful of reasons why facing a negative review head-on is better reputation management:

Ratings are something—but not everything

Some property teams aim to flag or otherwise remove negative reviews because they fear that they’ll bring down the property’s score. Well, that might be true, but prospective residents scouring review sites aren’t going to believe it if they see a perfect 5.0 score, anyway. Prospects, whom reviews most significantly impact, don’t anticipate 5s across the board. They expect to see a variety of review content, and often are more concerned with how well the community is addressing resident concerns. The adverse impact of a negative review is lessened if the community team is handling the concern in a friendly and effective manner.

Resolved concerns can lead to modified reviews

Oftentimes negative reviews are written out of frustration. The resident is at their tipping point and wants to vent. Ignoring the problem and attempting to have the review removed won’t help to quell that frustration. Conversely, if the property manager acknowledges the concerns, reaches out and proactively aims to fix the concern, residents oftentimes will remove the review themselves or update it to something more positive.

Reviews serve as unfiltered feedback

In a quest of gauging how well they’re doing, community teams often distribute surveys and comment cards to elicit feedback. It’s difficult to get solid response rates or anything beyond surface-level feedback through these mediums. Reviews, on the other hand, essentially serve as free market research. Rather than immediately dismissing their validity and aiming to remove them, community teams should listen to the feedback. Yes, some negative reviews will be unfair and not an accurate portrayal of the situation. But themes will often emerge that offer free feedback as to how teams can improve life for their residents.

The kneejerk reaction to remove unflattering feedback is natural. But upon further evaluation, negative reviews offer the unique opportunity to showcase your team’s customer-service skills and transform the negative experience of your residents into a positive one.

It’s always best to act on them rather than remove them. 

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