No matter how sterling your establishment’s service or how tasty the food is, negative reviews are part of the hospitality industry especially in this age of online reviews where anyone can give a rant or rave about your establishment.
So when you get a desperately bad review, don’t fret. From the ‘strange look’ your waiter gave, the soup that was just a little too hot, to the colour of your hospitality furniture, customers will find something to complain about. It’s normal.
Don’t think of bad reviews as a death knell for your establishment. While they obviously aren’t a pleasant experience, you can minimise the damage relatively easy. They can even be used as an opportunity to promote your business. Here are four ways that can help make that happen.
Don’t react straight away
When your establishment gets an unfairly negative review, it’s a natural reaction to feel stressed, angry, and maybe just a little vindictive. Posting an instant response with a vehement argument against the review may seem a little tempting, but it’s the worst move you can make.
When you first see the review, step away from the monitor and breathe. Don’t let your emotions take control and wait it out for a few hours. Once you’ve calmed down a little bit, your rational side will take over. This will give you an opportunity to deal with the review in a composed and logical manner that won’t harm your business.
Analyse the complaint honestly
While a negative review is never nice to read, it’s worth considering whether it was accurate. In other words, was the customer right in their complaints? Look into the specifics of what they’ve said and dig a little deeper.
For example, ask your staff members whether they dealt with the reviewer. Their feedback will allow you to gauge more accurately what actually happened. Getting different versions of the story from multiple sources is key to handling the matter appropriately. Don’t be afraid to concede that you were in the wrong.
Respond to the review
After you’ve had time to let your emotions settle and the complaint has been considered professionally, you may want to think about getting in touch with the customer who placed the review. Most platforms allow you to place a response on behalf of your business – make sure you use this opportunity wisely.
If the review was the result of unique circumstances, explain the situation. Always offer your apologies and invite the customer to visit your establishment again, promising a better experience. Always deal with the matter with a polite and professional tone.
Responding to the review does several things. Firstly, it shows the customer you’re willing to make things right. It’s very possible that the original complaint will be edited or removed. It also has the positive effect of showing potential customers that you care and that service is a priority.
Do nothing – bad reviews can be a good thing!
You should celebrate a bad review here and there. Think about it: would you trust an establishment that only had crystal-clear 5-star ratings? It’s just not natural and people will assume you’ve gamed the system to weed out reviews from actual customers.
It’s important that your online presence appears natural and driven by your customers, rather than having a suspicious profile that will have people thinking the reviews are not genuine. As long as the ratio between good and negative reviews remains healthy, you have nothing to worry about.
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