Managing Your Online Reputation

Managing Your Online Reputation1You probably already figured this out, but you can’t opt out of an online reputation.  We’re learning that companies must take the initiative towards implementing an online reputation management strategy as early as possible.


If you are a company that is hiding from the world of online reputation, you might find yourself in a risky situation.


It’s not very difficult for a disgruntled resident to create negative sites surrounding your brand or even you.  It can be done in just an hour or two! Online reputation is a serious practice that every owner or manager should embrace to protect their brand’s reputation.


“75% of internet users see online search as the most trusted source of information about companies.” Edelman Trust Barometer


Before you can implement an online reputation, you must have an online presence. To do this, create profiles for your brand on all relevant social media sites, and be sure not to neglect the key players: Google, Facebook, and Yelp. It doesn’t end there; you must also develop your audience on these social channels. With ongoing development, you can build up your social presence and begin to interact with customers which will lead to an increase in your influence and engagement scores. An added bonus: Google has re-established its agreement with Twitter, allowing tweets to appear in search results.


Once you have constructed your brand’s online presence, you must then listen and problem solve. As negative reviews or online complaints are made, you must be well equipped and trained to respond accordingly. It is important to be humble in your approach and consider that there may actually be a weakness in your process, especially if you are seeing a common trend in negative reviews. Remember the adage that “the customer is always right”? Always apologize authentically and come up with creative ways to give customers what they’re wanting without causing extra friction.


In a situation where you’re technically right, you might lose out overall if you come across harshly or unprofessional. Worse yet, you might actually be wrong and could end up damaging your entire reputation. The most effective approach to diffuse the situation is to take the conversation offline, keep your cool, and try to reconcile. And remember: if you feel yourself getting drawn into an escalating conflict, walk away from the computer.


Reputation management and social media go hand-in-hand. They are both a must have – not another checklist item.  It is vital to any business just as it is to have a solid maintenance staff. Customers use social media to make complaints or to leave negative reviews. If you are unaware of what your customers are saying, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve your reputation and customer experience.


Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice
Posted in: Customer Feedback, Ratings & Reviews | Tagged:


Resident Retention and Customer Experience

Resident Retention and Customer ExperienceA good reputation, resident referrals, and a solid, predictable community ends and begins with your residents. It’s no secret that your residents are your biggest asset, even bigger than your $40+ million property. Because of this, creating a better focus on customer experience and retention is key. To begin this focus we need to take a peek at a few statistics of why customers leave in the first place:  68% are unhappy with service, 14% are unhappy with product, and 9% move to a competitor.


The first step to building better customer retention is to set customer expectations early. This eliminates uncertainty around the level of service you need to offer to ensure your customers are happy. To avoid over promising and eventually under delivering, you also want set these expectations a tad lower than you are able to provide.


Next, you want to build trust through relationships. Whether we realize it or not, we all do business with people we trust. Trust is essential in business, and building relationships with residents will garner that trust. As trust increases, commitment tends to grow, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build trust through shared values and by taking an interest in your residents and their story over time. Simply providing a service is no longer sufficient.


Third, develop a proactive approach to customer service – an anticipatory service strategy – and eliminate problems before they happen instead of waiting for them to occur. To achieve and maintain this balance, companies must establish a dialogue with customers that shows an awareness of their information needs and respect for their communication preferences. The more contacts made with a resident, the “stickier” that resident becomes. When residents are consistently given valuable and useful information, the stickiness becomes loyalty. Friendly rent reminders, water shut off notices, and regular community updates are all examples of an anticipatory service strategy.


The final step for building customer retention is to take it online. Your residents are already there, so why not engage with them in their space? We so often think of customer experience as being face-to-face interaction, but that isn’t the case. People are glued to the screens, so it only makes sense to develop a strategy to connect with them online.

Keep in mind though that connecting with customers and building online communities takes more effort and time than typical social media acquisition strategies. It is a daily exercise if you want to do it properly.


As you add these focus tips to your resident retention and customer service strategy, you will notice an improvement in your online reputation, an increase in resident referrals, and your community will become a bit more predictable. Which tips are you planning to implement?


Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice
Posted in: Customer Experience, Generational Understanding, Understanding Your Customer |


Quick Tips for Skillful Communication

Quick Tips for Skillfull CommunicationBe a great listener. You’ll find that this tip is a prerequisite for the following tips. Becoming a great and active listener is a valuable art to master for any professional role you take on in life. Pay attention to your customer’s message and body language, and resist distractions. It is also important to keep an open mind if they begin to disagree or identify objections. Don’t tune them out or cut them off. Listen closely, and let them know that you understand by reframing key points.


Speak their language. Listen and pay attention to your customer’s communication style. If your customer is energetic and sociable, change the tone of your pitch to be energetic and sociable. This goes for all personality types: direct and efficient, calm and easygoing, or bubbly and animated. Adapt to your customers’ personality types and communication style, but always be professional.


Respond, don’t react. It is second nature to us to react to something that we are passionate about, and we often become very passionate about the product we are selling. Once you have listened (see tip #1) to your customer’s objection or complaint, respond mindfully rather than reacting emotionally. This requires self discipline and knowledge, but it allows us to become more effective in communicating to unhappy customers – which will lead to more happy customers.


Manage objections. When listening to customers’ objections or hesitations in regards to your product, you will find trends in what people really love or what they really hate. Gather these objections as a team and work together to come up with ways to respond. Other team members will see things differently or might have great success stories with overcoming the same objection. This will also keep you and your team be on the same page with your message along with your strengths and weaknesses.


Quick Tips for Skillfull Communications-1Follow through. Making promises is an easy solution to temporarily resolving an issue or customer complaint. But failure to follow through can backfire quickly. If you make a promise, always follow through with action – even if this action ends up being an explanation of why you are not able to deliver your promise. If the promise you presented in the communication to them ends up taking more time than expected, follow up with and keep them informed. But never leave them hanging and uninformed.


Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice
Posted in: Understanding Your Customer |


The Art of Persuasion

The Art of PersuasionThe art of persuasion – not to get confused with manipulation- lies in simplifying something down to its core, and communicating to others what they really care about. Manipulation, however, is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in his or her own interest.  Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you.

Another basic of persuasion is understanding context and the appropriate timing. Context creates a relative standard of what is acceptable. You pick up context clues with conversation, and more specifically, by listening.  Knowing and understanding your customers’ current dissatisfaction and “pains” will guide you to persuade them when they delay a leasing decision. You can then move them forward with this “magic” formula:

Current Dissatisfaction x Future Promise > Cost + Fear.

What is their current dissatisfaction? Commute, noise, size of community, maintenance, neighbors, access to lifestyle? Every purchase decision begins with a buyer’s current dissatisfaction. Feeling dissatisfied with something automatically makes a person a buyer, and the greater the dissatisfaction, the higher the urgency. As soon as that dissatisfaction sets in, buyers begin looking for a way to right the wrong. As a sales person, it becomes your job to discover that “wrong” and lead buyers toward the new “right.”

How will you create a future promise? With a well-defined idea of what is wrong in your prospect’s world, focus next on what “right” looks like. Future promise is the mental picture prospects carry around in their heads that helps to move them forward. When you clearly establish a buyer’s current dissatisfaction and future promise, you create a fantastic recipe for buyer motivation. Define a buyer’s future promise using questions such as these:

“What motivated you to start looking for a new apartment?”

“What do you dislike about your current home?”

Know the inhibiting factors: cost and fear.  While current dissatisfaction and future promise both serve to motivate prospects, cost and fear are big challenges to overcome. Prospects focus on price, perception of value, fear of a bad buying decision, negative past experiences, market conditions, and anything else that holds them back from leasing an apartment or even making a decision. Discover the specifics of their inhibitions by asking things like this:

“What is holding you back from leasing?”

“When you think about moving, what is your number-one concern?”

“What stresses you out when you think about moving?”

When prospects begin to delay a leasing decision, either their current dissatisfaction and/or future promise is too low or their cost and/or fear is too high. Focus your sales presentation on maximizing current dissatisfaction and future promise while simultaneously minimizing cost and fear. And if you really believe in what you do and what your community offers, you will always be able to persuade others to do what’s right for them, while getting what you want in return.

Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice



Posted in: Uncategorized, Understanding Your Customer |


How to Follow Up On Your Sales Presentation

How to Follow UpWhen was the last time you experienced amazing follow up – whether you were the one following up or someone was following up with you – and that amazing experience led to an immediate sale? These experiences can be rare, because we are often losing customers with unauthentic and automated follow up strategies. To avoid creating a multiplying list of cold prospects, keep this in mind: “Tenacity results in sales.” And then reevaluate your follow up strategy with these tips:


Become a resource.

During the sales process, get to know your prospect. Listen to their problems, and be ready to recommend solutions. Gathering and remembering this information is key to successful follow up. Utilize this information to become a resource for helping them address the issues discussed during the touring process. When you become a valuable resource to your prospect, they develop trust in you and it improves your credibility.


Email is still relevant.

No one likes the “just following up” emails. Start by providing background information about who you are and what you discussed previously. Then be creative in ways you can add value for them by sharing resources and information related to the prospect’s situation. Close the email with a call-to-action that gives the prospect a strong enough incentive to respond to you.


How to Follow Up-1Winning phone calls.

Don’t simply call to “follow up”. Create an easy conversation with them by bridging previous conversations and remind them why they should sign a lease with you. Set the tone of the call to be relaxed and receptive, and emphasize your unique value. This will allow you to feel confident. It will also warm up a cold customer when remove any anxious tones.


Focus on building your tribe.

Nurture the relationship. Taking the extra time to go above and beyond for your prospect while nurturing the relationship and becoming a value to them will take you far in the sales process.


Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice
Posted in: Customer Loyalty, Sales and Marketing |


Communicating Value

Communicating ValueWhen you read ‘communicating value’ and begin to relate that with the sales and leasing process of the apartment industry, you probably presume that you are already communicating said value to your customers and in multiple ways: advising them on how to arrange their oversized sectional, the perks of living at a XYZ community, and an exceptional maintenance team. But the questions remains: what does your current customer value and how does that set you apart from your competitors?

The first step is to become hyper-focused – focusing on your audience of one – the customer that you are speaking to right now. Ask them relevant questions that match their communication style. Customers don’t buy a laundry list of facts and features; they buy solutions to their problems that create value for them. People make purchasing decisions emotionally, and then later justify it logically.

The next step is to listen, which is easier said than done. Taking the time to get to know your current audience of one won’t only help you identify their needs in the short term, but it will also create value for them in the long run. Sales teams must illustrate why their value proposition is the best solution for the customer’s requirements, one that is uniquely suited to meeting their needs. Be prepared. Know the facts and how to communicate the advantage.

Most people buy what they perceive is best for themselves. If the customer needs it, wants it, and feels there’s a fit, then they will compare perceived value with price. And before you put your guard up to the price conversation, remember this… A price objection is just a customer’s way of telling you that the value is lacking or not evident.

It takes confidence, personal rapport, and doing your homework to sell value, opposed to price. Continue to provide good service throughout the lifespan of your prospect, and you will create a value that both parties will benefit from.


Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice
Posted in: Customer Loyalty, Understanding Your Customer |


Effective Email Communication

Effective Email CommunicationEmails and phone conversations are how people get to know you, like you, and trust you. Do you enjoy emails that look like a generic template? What about phone calls that sound like scripts? Of course not. People want to connect with real people, so write and speak as if you are conversing with a friend.

Posted in: Sales and Marketing |


Are Objections a Bad Thing?

Are Objections a Bad ThingBelieve it or not, objections are not a bad thing. If your prospect raises an objection, that’s a good sign. That means they care enough to ask questions. And, the fact that they are talking out their concerns means they want to be able to move past it. If someone is completely uninterested in leasing from you, they won’t bother to object.


So what exactly is an objection? Objections are anything that stops your prospect from leasing from you. Notice that I didn’t say from your peer or from leasing at your property. I said leasing from you.

Posted in: Sales and Marketing, Understanding Your Customer |


Creating Positive Memories With the Customer Experience

MemoriesYou remember the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, it is only partly true. The first impression is indeed very important. It’s very memorable, as well. But there is so much more than the first impression. Because multifamily is, or should be, heavily focused on the customer experience, the impressions never stop. It happens when a resident submits a service request and even when she picks up a package. Impressions are at every single interaction.

Posted in: Customer Experience | Tagged: ,


Closing Techniques

sell-yourselfDon’t sell an apartment. Sell yourself.

I have news that might come as a surprise. You’re not selling apartments. Nope. You’re selling yourself.

If you want to keep your residents and prospects from straying to competitors, never stop selling. More specifically, never stop selling the value you provide.

Posted in: Customer Experience | Tagged: ,


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