Trends & Tech: Responding to Negative Reviews Online
Why It Matters
Millions of customers and travellers leave and view reviews online every year. Surveys have shown that over 90% of online users view online reviews and the impacts are huge. Most readers will have a clear opinion after only reading a few reviews. Users also read responses to reviews from restaurants, hotels and companies to see how problems are solved and to learn the company's attitude. Negative reviewers are almost certain to return to your company if you are able to solve their problem smoothly and quickly.
With these facts in mind, it is IMPERATIVE that your company keeps an eye on websites like TripAdvisor (the world's no 1 site for hospitality reviews), Yelp, Zomato and the like. A study by TripAdvisor revealed that companies that responded to reviews actually had higher average ratings than those that never responded. While (hopefully) most of the responses are positive (these still deserve a response, show them you're grateful) some will be negative. These are the hardest ones to deal with and it's best to be ready so you don't lash out when they come.
That's a key thing to remember. Check regularly and try to reply within a week of their visit. There are multiple reasons for this. Firstly, a customer satisfied quickly will be much more likely to return AND to tell others positive reviews. Further, other readers online will see that you care about your customers enough to take time for a response.
Some Steps to Remember✍🏻
The following might change order, but none can be forgotten!
Stay Calm 💆🏻
Yes. It sounds sensible. Who wouldn't? Yet there are many restaurant owners, chefs and hoteliers who have responded in either a heated or else just unprofessional way
Be Polite 🤝
Always. Keep it professional and classy. Imagine they're at the counter and other guests are around. According to TripAdvisor, 70% of readers will avoid a place that leaves aggressive responses to reviews.
Apologise for Their Bad Experience 🙏
Even if it's not your fault, even if their review is ridiculous, even if they were disorderly and horrible. You're not necessarily apologising for what you have done, but what they have felt. E.g: "We're sorry that your stay was not what you expected."
If it is something you have done wrong, be honest, say sorry. But state clearly that steps have or are being taken to ensure that it won't happen again.
Answer Each Point Raised 🗣
Politely and carefully break down the points in their review. Some of them may be valid, others may be misunderstandings. Give your answer to each point.
Highlight the Positives 👑
Almost every review will mention something good about the venue. Be sure to bring that out in your response! It will show other readers what you can offer.
Thank them for their time 👋
Tell them you're grateful that they took the time to review. Even if you're not...
Leave a contact email for further discussion. Show that you have done all you can to resolve the issue. If you would like to give something to the reviewer (such as a free meal, night, or voucher) , it is often best to do so after further discussion and in private.
Remember other audiences. People who haven't been to your venue will be reading this too. Make your response a marketing moment for your business!