Insight from Einstein: What is driving increased dissatisfaction?

Mar 12, 2024 by Turner Batdorf

In February’s blog, we covered what residents have historically talked about in their reviews. This analysis consisted of reviews going all the way back to 2003. Spoiler alert… over the last 20 years, most residents have primarily talked about customer service! But, now that you are an expert on Einstein and the insights it gives us on the drivers of resident satisfaction, we can begin to get more granular. Specifically, in this month’s blog, we are going to discuss the 5 biggest trends in 2023.

1. Review Sentiment Continues to Trend more Negative:

  • Each year since 2020, we have seen a greater ratio of negative comments to positive comments within reviews. While the data suggests that reviews are still way more complimentary than we saw back in the early stages of multifamily reviews (2003 – 2012), this trend should be alarming because it is an inverse trend to what we saw for most of the 2010’s.
  • Specifically, we saw reviews generally become more positive all the way from 2011 through 2019 and especially into 2020, where most reviewers were willing to show onsite teams grace at the height of the pandemic.
  • However, their growing frustration in recent years suggests that onsite teams have not been meeting resident expectations in the post-Covid era as well as they were leading up to the pandemic.


2. Condition & Availability of the Amenities/Common Areas is a Primary Driver of Increased Dissatisfaction:

  • Amenity issues have been a growing complaint among residents. Specifically, in the 1- and 2-star reviews from 2023, 26.73% of them had a complaint about the amenities not being open or functional. This is an eye popping 137.9% increase versus what we have seen lifetime (11.24%).
  • Moreover, 5.8% of all reviews from 2023 (regardless of star rating) had a complaint about the amenities. This is up from 5.0% in 2019 and 4.5% in 2020 when most amenities were closed.
  • Residents are spending more time at home utilizing and relying on these amenities, and, therefore, they expect them to be functional at their convenience.

3. The Little Things Matter:

  • Percentage wise, the other categories that have risen the most in complaint rate are Packages & Mail, Interior Lighting, Trash, Maintenance Cleanliness, and Pet Waste.
  • The increases in these categories can be seen as a direct result of residents being home more, thereby leading to higher standards, and potentially, higher perception for this level of detail.
  • It would be worthwhile for onsite teams to continue to evaluate what they are doing in these areas because these trends show no signs of reversing.

4. Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture:

  • While the details covered in the last bullet do matter when we discuss the trend of seeing increased dissatisfaction, I encourage you to keep it in perspective. The primary drivers of 1- and 2-star reviews are still the things we covered in February’s blog: Customer Service (61.42% of 1- and 2-star reviews from 2023 feature a complaint about Customer Service), Communication (40.83%), Maintenance Service (32.89%), on down through the top-10 list you see below.
  • If I was going to call your attention to what is trending up the most in these big-ticket items, I would steer you towards General Cleanliness, Security, and Communication. All of these are trending up since the pandemic and are a huge contributor to a resident or prospect leaving a negative review in 2023.
  • What is the takeaway? You need to be further focused on keeping your property clean, being transparent and responsive, and taking control of safety around your property! Good news for you- there is a direct correlation between perception of clean and perception of safety that we will cover in a future blog.

5. Maintenance Professionals are Rising Stars:

  • Yes, the overall trend heading into 2024 suggests we aren’t meeting resident expectations as well as we were previously. BUT… there is one massive positive I want to highlight. Simply put, your maintenance professionals are EVERYTHING for both your communities and your online reputation. Last month, I showcased that maintenance is a primary driver of both resident satisfaction and dissatisfaction. But, these team members increasingly matter for driving positive feedback. In 2023, 21.85% of 4- and 5-star reviews complimented Maintenance Service, an 11.0% increase over what we see lifetime (19.69%).
  • Moreover, in 2023, 16.3% of all reviews (regardless of star rating) featured a compliment about Maintenance Service, which is substantially up over the 13.6% number we saw in 2019. This is incredible considering the labor shortages I know many of you are facing.
  • We need to recognize their incredible efforts, and, if you don’t already, train your maintenance team members to ask for reviews- they are the heart of the community!

2024 is going to be an interesting year in multifamily. As competition begins to increase, I am hopeful that we are going to see a refocus on the core principles of the product being offered: a home. While there are some unique elements of what residents today care more about than we have seen historically (amenity availability, packages, interior lighting, trash management, cleaning up after work orders, pet waste), it is still the same things that make residents happy or unhappy. Residents still very much care about their relationship and communication levels with the staff and they want a clean, safe, and well-maintained property. Doing these things well will allow you to perform well in any era!

If you are interested in seeing all of the 2023 numbers, please check out J Turner Research’s 11th edition of Review Mechanics! In April, we will be back to talk about how student renters compare to conventional.


The insights in this blog came from utilizing J Turner Research’s text categorization tool, Einstein Thought Analysis. Einstein Thought Analysis is a proprietary AI software that will objectively show you your operational strengths and weaknesses based on anything anyone has ever said about you online in reviews. What is being said is incredibly valuable because it is essentially the "why" behind your scores. Reviews are unprompted descriptions of why a resident is satisfied (left a high star rating) or dissatisfied (left a low star rating). This means that what is being complimented and complained about can be seen by owners and operators as drivers of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. For more information, please visit here.

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