Handling Negative Reviews

Nancy Anderson
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In today’s age of instant communication, you can’t get away with anything. We know how bloggers and “new media” reporters have broken negative stories on politicians and businesses. The consequences have often been devastating to the target.

Why should things be any different with a member of the hospitality industry?

If a guest has a negative experience, the internet carries a posting of all the horrifying details – the breakfast eggs were runny, the room was buggy and the staff generally inhospitable. Sometimes the negative reviews are online before the former guest has unpacked their bags.

So, what should a hotel or restaurant do should they receive a negative review that’s posted for the entire world – literally – to see?

Maybe we should start by acknowledging that not all the reviews posted on line are negative – hopefully! Acknowledging that the positives are just as important as handling the negatives. Review your online reviews daily (or at least once a week!) and send a thank-you to the guest who has taken time to praise you and your staff for a job well-done. Even personalizing your response, as opposed to a simply cut-and-paste e-mail, will not take too long, and will sow a lot of good will.

Now, to the negatives!

  1. Thank them for taking the time to leave a review – they’re helping you to improve your business.
  2. Acknowledge any positive aspects or comments the reviewer left – you want to be certain that any readers of the review pick-up on these.
  3. Inform the guest that your goal was their 100% satisfaction and that you are surprised by your failure to meet that goal (of course, that is your goal, isn’t it?).
  4. Apologize for any legitimate complaint. You may have a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why things weren’t right for this guest – but they don’t want to hear that! What they want is to hear your apology for their disappointment
  5. Briefly describe the action you are taking to address their concerns. Explain how you’ll act on their feedback.
  6. Invite them to continue the conversation via a personal e-mail address. The guest may have said all they want to say, but others reading their comments, your response, and the invitation to talk some more, will be impressed by your desire to fully meet a guest’s need.

Yes, you will no doubt receive negative comments about your business; some will be fair and others might just be a guest’s way of venting. By handling them quickly and surely, you can turn these negatives into positives. Any negative review does not have to be the last word!

By Joe Fairchild - Joe who writes for Nexxt, has a strong background in employee training and customer service. Semi-retired, he continues working in the hospitality industry for the customer interaction and travel discounts. A veteran financial advisor and public speaker, he delights in helping others find their path and achieve their goals. Read more of his blogs at HospitalityJobsiteBlog.com.

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