By Team Revyse
Published 3 months ago
Updated 3 months ago
If you're only viewing reputation management platforms as a way to keep an eye on your online reviews or to collect a few accolades, you're not seeing the full picture. Reputation management is a potent marketing tool that can accelerate your performance and positively impact your financial bottom line. Just like your website and that picture-perfect unit-level photography, reputation management should be a key cornerstone of your community’s leasing strategy.
Handpicking the right reputation management partner and introducing new tech to your teams is no small feat; it's a decision with lasting effects. But make no mistake, the right platform can totally overhaul your programs and take resident satisfaction to soaring heights.
In the multifamily industry, new software adoption is moving at warp speed, with best-in-class technologies accelerating the leasing process and creating new opportunities for portfolio growth. Modern reputation management solutions are like adding a boost to efficiency, tailor-made for operations of any size. However, venturing into the world of new vendors can feel like stepping into uncharted territory, even for seasoned industry experts.
The good news is that the B2B software buying landscape has changed, putting multifamily software buyers in the driver's seat like never before. Self-service demos, genuine user reviews, and transparent vendor data are just a few of the tools that put you in control of the tech vendor selection journey.
In this guide, we'll steer you through the crucial considerations when choosing a reputation management solution for your portfolio. From defining your requirements to sizing up features and evaluating vendors, we’ll help you make an informed decision that aligns with your portfolio goals, so that you can pave the way for your ideal tech stack.
Drafting a solid business case and outlining your needs in crystal-clear terms isn't just a fancy gesture—it's the secret to guaranteeing that your next technology evaluation is thorough and successful.
Think of it like building a high-rise. You wouldn't just stack bricks haphazardly; you'd have a blueprint that outlines every detail. Similarly, when it comes to purchasing a new reputation management tool, nailing down your requirements isn't just step one, it's the cornerstone of a well-informed tech investment.
💡 Deep Dive Into Requirements: For a deeper dive into the concept of technology requirements, what they are, and how to write them, take a look at this article from the team at Revyse.
By identifying the specific requirements you have for your new reputation management software or service, and then writing them down, you can narrow down your search and focus on solutions that cater to your use case.
Remember, not all requirements carry equal weight. Pinpoint the most critical ones and rank them based on their significance to your company and your project objectives. If there are some requirements that are non-negotiable, put those at the top. If there are others where you can be flexible, move them toward the bottom of your list.
Now, let's walk through a few potential prerequisites for multifamily reputation management solutions. We'll explore how these requirements can act as your compass, leading you towards a well-informed decision when it comes to selecting the perfect technology partner.
✅ - Our reputation management solution should help us manage reviews across Google, Facebook, and Apartments.com.
Are you looking for a solution that helps you manage just one core platform, like Google Business Profiles, or do you need a tool that can aggregate your reputation scores across multiple industry-specific platforms to get a broader view of reputation?
✅ - Our goal is to be able to respond to all community reviews within 48 hours.
Do you have specific goals or KPIs in mind when it comes to review responses? Are you willing to use canned or automated responses in order to be prompt, or are you willing to sacrifice speed for quality and leverage people-based services to take a human-based approach?
✅ - The reputation management solution should allow our corporate marketing team to solicit reviews across our entire portfolio, allowing our onsite teams to stay focused on community and resident needs.
Do you need a tool that can help scale a small corporate marketing team, or are you looking for a solution that each Community Manager can access directly? Do you need automated review solicitation, or are you planning to ask for reviews by hand? Defining who and how tasks should be done will help you better evaluate your options.
✅ - The reputation management platform should allow us to escalate negative reviews to our Regional Managers.
Will onsite teams be handling all reviews, regardless of score, or will you need to escalate negative reviews to Regional Managers, ensuring that leadership is never out of the loop?
✅ - We need a review response solution that understands and adheres to legal requirements.
How important is it that the reputation management technology or service allows for Fair Housing compliant review responses, and FTC guidelines on review solicitation, to ensure that your efforts don’t land you in legal hot water? Be sure to define the level of compliance required and any internal review processes that might need to be accounted for before you start your vendor evaluation process.
Establishing the requirements for your reputation management software evaluation and writing them down ahead of time will help you stay focused during the research process.
With your requirements in mind, it's time to research the reputation management technologies available in the market and find a few potential tools that can address your company’s needs head on.
Here are a few good places to start:
Explore industry-specific product review sites and publications.
Leverage search engines and vendor websites.
Look for case studies and customer testimonials to leverage the experiences of other operators who have used the tools or technologies you are considering.
Reach out to peers, colleagues, or industry experts for their insights and suggestions on the best solutions to address your specific problem.
Online forums, communities, and professional associations can also be valuable sources of information.
💡 Pro Tip: The multifamily industry is nuanced, so when you’re researching, look for reputation management software solutions that have specific industry experience and positive customer feedback from multifamily companies that share a similar size, investment strategy, submarket, or area of focus as you do.
Keep a list of the reputation management solutions that catch your eye, as you'll dive deeper into evaluating these vendors and their product offerings in the next sections.
Want a quick-and-easy way to understand your options? Check out the Reputation Management category page on revyse.com to discover multifamily reputation management products and read verified user reviews.
Once you’ve developed a short-list of potential reputation management solutions, it's time to demo the platforms. These demos offer you a firsthand look at how each solution operates, allowing you to compare how each tool meets (or doesn’t meet) your requirements.
Remember, these sales demos aren't just about appearances. Oftentimes, the vendor will walk you through real-life scenarios specific to the multifamily industry. Not only is it valuable to see the actual user interface (UI) and get a glimpse of how the solution works, you can also get an understanding of how the technology would be leveraged by your teams on a day-to-day basis.
The good news is that more and more vendors are adopting modern sales tactics and offering transparent, self-service product demos, which allow buyers like yourself to tour their product on your own, at a time that is convenient for you, and without the need for a sales rep. Vendor discovery platforms like revyse.com also host self-service product demos and walkthroughs, so you can easily search by product name or category to find vendors that offer self-service demos ahead of time.
💡 Pro Tip: Prioritize vendors that offer transparent pricing and hassle-free access to demos, letting you evaluate options without the sales pitch pressure. You’ll be able to take an objective approach, choosing what works best for your business needs, and won’t feel obligated to continue unproductive conversations out of kindness.
If the vendor doesn't have a self-serve product demo available online or on their website, you can usually still contact them directly to schedule a demo with a sales representative.
It may take more than one sales meeting to get access to a resource who can answer your deepest technical questions about product functionality and integrations (usually called a Sales Engineer or a Solutions Architect), so be patient and voice your intent. Honesty is the best policy here. Let your sales rep know early on that your goal is to gather technical info, and they can help you navigate the sales process much more quickly by bringing the right resources to the call.
Product demos are the perfect time to evaluate each reputation management solution's key features. But before you start the self-service demo or join the sales meeting, be sure to grab your list of requirements.
As you walk through the product demo, compare the features and functionality of each solution against your requirements. And most importantly, always be transparent with the vendor about each of your requirements and make sure they understand your needs up front.
💡 Pro Tip: During the evaluation process, create a checklist or a simple comparison table in Excel to assess each potential solution side-by-side, based on your requirements.
When comparing products, look for solutions that not only address your immediate pain points, but also offer flexibility for future growth or changes in how your company operates. For example, if you know that you’ll be doubling your portfolio in the next 12 months, look for a product that can scale with you as you grow.
Now, let’s get into the specifics.
When you’re researching and demoing reputation management software, some of the critical features and functionalities to look out for are:
👉 Focused on Google-First: The most competitive reputation management strategies will be focused on improving your property’s Google Business Profile (GBP) review volume and ratings, with help from automated technology and review response services, since reviews have an outsized influence on local search ranking.
Questions to ask:
Does your platform prioritize Google reviews?
Do you use the GBP API?
When Google releases a new feature on GBP, how often do you build those new features into your platform’s offerings?
✌️ Automated Review Solicitation: Leveraging automation to request reviews from happy residents across different stages of the resident lifecycle, such as tour, move-in, and lease renewal, can dramatically increase your overall ratings and reduce negative reviews.
Questions to ask:
Does your platform include review solicitation?
Does it use automation triggers from a CRM or PMS integration to send review solicitation requests, or are they sent by hand?
Tell me how your integration works.
Can I decide which triggers are leveraged?
Do you cap the number of solicitation requests that go out at one time?
💡 Pro Tip: When looking at product features that rely on integrations, it’s important to really dig in and understand how the integrations function. When it comes to reputation management integrations, ask “Who controls the automations? Is there any onsite team involvement needed to trigger these workflows?”
🤟 SMS Capabilities: The ability to send review requests by SMS text messaging vs just by email can meaningfully increase your response rates and review scores.
Questions to ask:
Does your review solicitation have SMS capabilities, or do you only solicit reviews through email?
What are your average SMS response rates for a PMC of a similar size or in a similar market?
Do you require explicit opt-in for SMS text messaging?
Will the phone numbers be a standard 10-digit number or a short code?
✌️✌️ SEO-Optimized Review Responses: Ensuring that your review responses are optimized for local SEO can turn your reputation management tool into a performance marketing machine.
Questions to ask:
How does your review response product work?
Do you include SEO optimized keywords in each review response?
How does your tool/team determine which keywords to include?
How are negative reviews handled?
Are there strategic differences between responses to negative and positive reviews?
🖐️ Review Sentiment Analysis: Understanding overall reputation scores is important, but being able to measure prospect and resident sentiment by topic or lifecycle stage is a complete game changer.
Questions to ask:
Does your platform allow me to measure review scores received by specific team members?
Will it allow me to better understand which employees are delivering 5-star service?
Can I see the overall sentiment of just those residents who have renewed their lease, or those who have just moved in?
As a multifamily operator, you have a ton on your plate - leaving limited time to focus on becoming the authority on review solicitation compliance and legal best practices. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
When evaluating Reputation Management products and services, it's important to understand how the vendor approaches compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s rules for online reviews.
When a reputation management tool funnels prospects or residents with negative experiences to an internal feedback mechanism and only directs positive reviewers to leave a public review, that’s breaking the rules. This practice is commonly known as “review gating.” And there are real monetary consequences for these prohibited practices.
In a recent press release, the FTC explained, “[We] charged the rental listing platform Roomster and its owners with duping consumers seeking affordable housing by paying for fake reviews. In January 2022, the FTC required online fashion retailer Fashion Nova to pay $4.2 million for suppressing negative customer reviews from being posted to its website.”
In addition to fines, review sites are directed by the FTC to enforce fair practices. If an Operator is suspected of unfair review practices, Google and other review sites will simply delete your reviews without notifying you.
Matt Murray, CEO at multifamily reputation management tech provider Widewail, touts the benefits (and boost!) to ratings when Operators fairly and equally solicit reviews from prospects and residents across key points in the customer journey.
“To eliminate long-term risk you need to treat positive and negative content equally. Further, suppressing your residents’ feedback is a poor experience and is an unnecessary risk. We find that ratings, on average, jump up 0.3-stars when asking every resident and making the process easy.”
Questions to ask:
Do you follow the FTC’s rules for online reviews?
Does your platform solicit reviews from all prospects and residents equally?
How does your platform handle negative reviews?
Are negative reviews ever suppressed or hidden, putting us out of compliance with the FTC?
In addition to evaluating reputation management software features, it's crucial to assess the reputation and credibility of the vendors behind these solutions.
When exploring options, consider vendors with a solid track record in serving the multifamily industry. Look for testimonials or case studies highlighting their success stories in multifamily apartment management, and read user reviews to understand how their products perform in the real world.
💡 Pro Tip: Vendor reviews are your secret weapon in the software shopping battle, saving you from unpleasant surprises down the road. Quickly understand how a new solution would fit into your existing tech stack by reading authentic reviews from industry users who have gone through implementation themselves.
Be sure to check out software review sites like TrustRadius and G2 when shopping for generic SaaS solutions, or leverage Revyse for access to industry-specific user reviews for multifamily technologies and services.
By choosing a reputable vendor, you can have confidence in the long-term reliability and support of the reputation management software solution you choose.
When weighing up your decision, consider taking advantage of any trial periods or pilot programs offered by your shortlist of reputation management software vendors.
Trial periods are typically free and will give you hands-on experience with the software and a deeper understanding of its functionality, user-friendliness, and compatibility with your existing systems.
Pilot programs can also help you measure the quantifiable impact of the product on property performance, without the commitment of a full portfolio implementation project. Pilot programs can be free or paid, and typically involve testing the live product for 90+ days on 3-5 active properties in your portfolio. The purpose of a pilot is to gather data on performance, so be sure you’ve outlined the critical KPIs before launching a new pilot program.
During pilots or trial periods, be sure to involve relevant team members and end-users who will be working with the reputation management software on a daily basis. Gather their feedback and assess how well the solution aligns with their specific workflows, and make note of any new requirements that might surface.
Understanding the product implementation and onboarding processes for your new reputation management platform ahead of time can save you endless heartache and hours of tedious manual work, protecting your team from the dreaded “onboarding spreadsheet”.
Be sure to ask the vendor what to expect during implementation and onboarding, such as:
Property information transfer
Ongoing customer support
Ticketing systems or portals
On-demand knowledge bases
Each of these areas can have a significant impact on the successful implementation of a new technology system, and can influence how well a new reputation tool is received by your internal teams.
Smart decision-makers know that getting more apartment reviews from prospects and residents will raise your property’s star rating, make you more visible to prospective residents on search engines, and boost your property performance.
So, it's decision time!
Put on your analyst hat and weigh each proposal and demo against your prioritized requirements. Think about factors like cost, the time it'll take to get the ball rolling, ongoing support, and any customizations or integration requirements you might have.
And finally, take a deep breath and make your choice. Trust your research, your peers, and your instincts to select the perfect multifamily reputation management platform.
Happy software shopping!
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