LOS ANGELES, CA - Overall resident satisfaction increased dramatically in 2013 as the multifamily industry increases its focus on service delivery and reputation management, according to an analysis by ApartmentRatings.com, multifamily's largest rating and review site.
The analysis of properties with reviews on ApartmentRatings revealed that 68% of active properties had a "Recommend" score above 50% in 2013 - a remarkable 18% increase over 2012. Site-wide, average "Recommend" scores rose 14% from 2012 to 2013. (The analysis of active properties included those that had a minimum of 10 reviews, with at least five in the last year.)
A Focus on Online Reputation and What Drives It
The growth in importance of review websites has caused the industry to direct more attention than ever to ensuring and enhancing resident satisfaction as the first step in managing a community's reputation.
"Managing one's online reputation begins with managing the resident experience," said Doug Miller, founder and President of SatisFacts, ApartmentRatings' sister brand. "The industry has recognized that ApartmentRatings' tens of millions of unique visitors per year represent a major marketing opportunity, and now there are tools that can help to significantly improve a property's online reputation."
Encouraging Residents to Share
A growing number of properties have been proactively encouraging residents to share their views on review websites. This includes organic efforts as well as the use of tools such as ApartmentRatings' Verified Resident Program (VRP) and SatisFacts' Insite touchpoint program, which provides year-round resident surveys and feedback.
"More than 120 clients have combined VRP with our Insite program," said Miller. "Properties are also effectively using ApartmentRatings' Manager Center to monitor, manage and respond to all resident reviews, which starts with a notification every time a new review is posted."
More Reviews, More Balance
Properties using reputation management tools such as VRP, Insite, and Manager Center have seen dramatic increases in the number of reviews posted, leading to an authentic cross-section of opinions.
Despite there already being hundreds of thousands of reviews posted each year on ApartmentRatings, there was a significant 16.5% increase in the number of reviews posted from 2012 to 2013, and so far in 2014, daily review volume is up another 14% over last year. Proactive efforts by property management companies combined with the vast number of reviews now being generated by the VRP program are noticeably impacting both the volume and balance of reviews.
An analysis of more than 60 property management companies that use Insite and VRP showed a dramatic 327% increase in reviews posted each month. In turn, this increase has led to a 37% increase in "Recommend" scores for these 60+ portfolios on ApartmentRatings after just 90 days.
"Ever-improving service delivery and proactively asking residents to share their views has had a clear and dramatic impact for our clients and the multifamily industry as a whole," added Miller. "It is significant to note that these gains are being made despite the negative impact on resident attitudes of the post-recession 'double bump' of aggressive rent increases combined with rental concessions burning off."
Dallas-based Milestone Management is a real-world example of combining a sharp focus on service delivery with reputation management tools to boost satisfaction.
"Within the first three months of adding the ApartmentRatings VRP component to our Insite program, we saw an incredible increase in the average number of ratings posted on each of our ApartmentRatings property pages," said Melanie Stiles, Vice President of Training and Marketing for Milestone Management. "This increase has led to more balanced resident postings, and we have seen our 'Recommend' score grow over 90% in just 90 days."