Many people actively read through the reviews of an establishmenton sites like TripAdvisor in order to research whether or not they will be visiting a particular hotel. These type of review sites exist to inform potential patrons of past customers’ experiences, giving consumers a chance to cite the things they liked and disliked at the venue.
Unfortunately, when it comes to negative reviews, some business owners and managers have a hard time remember how to keep review responses professional, and instead have taken to responding in an aggressive manner, causing even more damage to their business’s reputation than the review would have done on its own.
It is every hotel owner and manager’s duty to ensure that guests have the best experience possible. Even though turning your hotel into a five-star experience may not be a viable option for everyone, you do have the opportunity to treat your establishment as such. After all, success is born through repeat customers, and providing a pleasant experience is the best way to ensure that people continue to return.
So, how should you react to negative reviews left by patrons who did not have an ideal stay?
1. Don’t Argue – Social sites of any kind are anything but private. If you get pulled into an argument with a disgruntled customer, other potential visitors could perceive this as immature then subsequently boycott the establishment on principle. It’s not professional to engage the customer in such a manner, and your reputation could easily be destroyed by a single ill-timed comment. Allow the individual to vent and take it as a form of constructive criticism. For example, if the windows don’t open in someone’s room, either explain why in a professional manner in attempt to resolve the issue.
2. Don’t Copy-and-Paste Responses – Too many business owners reply to negative experiences with a copy-and-pasted response that shows no remorse. If others see that you’re trying to make amends, then that is what really matters. Treat each negative comment individually and respond as yourself, not with a default reply text you have saved on your computer. People liked to be heard and know that you heard them. Sometimes a well thought out response will completely change a person’s outlook on their experience simply because you took the time to really listen and respond to their complaints.
3. Personal Belief Conflicts – When it comes to running a business, personal beliefs should never be involved. Although freedom of speech is a wondrous thing, you need to understand how “time and place” work. Offering your own personal views in order to combat a negative remark is never a good idea – just ask Chick-Fil-A.
4. Silent Damage Control – By not involving yourself or your establishment in a petty competition of who’s right or justified, you can focus on damage control silently. If you are unable to respond to individuals without seeming childish or contrary, promote alterations concerning the customer’s bad experience. If he or she leaves a negative review stating the towels feel like sandpaper, then investigate what needs to be done in order to make them softer and promote the new changes in social media outlets. This helps prove to others that you are taking an active role in making the experience better for the future and gives you the opportunity to potentially win back the negative reviewer.
5. Refrain from Intervening – Some customers reserve the right to be unhappy no matter what you do to try and fix the situation. These people are intent on being miserable and you could be wasting your time and energy by trying to make things right. If they are unwilling to acknowledge your attempt to help, then wash your hands of the entire episode. As long as you did what you could to make the experience better, then you’ve done your best. Let the negative comment stand alone and don’t respond to it at all. If you provide the best experience you can for your visitors, then the other positive remarks will drown out those that are clearly unhappy.
6. Beware of Trolls – Unfortunately, trolling has been made extremely popular on social media networks of all kinds. You can have the most brilliant material or provide the most heavenly experience only to have someone degrade it for no other reason than because they can. Some people are determined to provide misery to everyone, and the internet allows them to do it safely and anonymously.
Because social media is such an integral part of human life, a great deal of damage can be done to your reputation should you involve yourself in an argument with a past guest. Make sure your managers understand that the backlash from an immature remark can be quite damaging and could take a great deal of time to fix. Use professionalism to win unhappy customers over, and don’t try to make excuses for why someone had a bad experience.
This post was contributed by Ken Myers. Ken is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.