How to turn a frown upside down and deal with negative customer reviews  

Posted on 22/08/2019 by Yann Gouriou

Word of mouth can make or break any business, and this is particularly true for the hospitality industry. In the online world, reviews are everything and many customers check for feedback before visiting any business, but especially in selecting hotels. At some point, even the best will receive a negative review, but what makes these businesses leaders in their field, is how they handle this feedback and their ability to turn a negative experience into a positive one. 

86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. This is why it is vital to ensure that you have a strategy to maintain your online presence and deal with this feedback when it arises. We take you through the steps of how to handle a negative comment and turn it into a positive:

Don’t delete!

Depending on the platform, you might have the ability to remove any unfavourable reviews. While this may be tempting, the reality is that it’s far better to know any issue with your business and publically address it than to ignore and delete. The internet is a big place and a disgruntled customer can always find another avenue to vent their frustrations. If they don’t post elsewhere, they’ll certainly tell their friends or family offline, making the situation much more difficult to amend. Engaging with negative feedback gives you the ability to showcase your customer service and resolve the problem. Other potential customers will see that you are responsive to their feedback and will this reflects well on your business.

Reply quickly & apologise

A swift reply can make all the difference when dealing with a negative review. You should typically aim to respond within the hour. Failing to do so may result in loss of future business by the customer. A delayed response also leaves you open to other negativity as it may be seen and commented on by more people. It is important to get in quick and apologise for the customer’s bad experience. Taking responsibility for the problem is the best way to begin finding a resolution. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and be polite and respectful, no matter the nature or language of the comment.

Move the conversation

Once you have apologised, try to take the conversation out of the public eye, whether it’s to a direct message, email or offline via phone. This is particularly important if you are worried that the situation will escalate. Moving away from the initial review allows you to focus more on the customer’s issue and not on maintaining your public appearance. It might also allow the customer to soften their stance, express their problem and help you to identify their needs.

Seek resolution

Try to understand the customer’s concern and find a solution that works for them. Drilling down on what they want is key to securing their future business. If they had a bad stay at your hotel, find out specifically what they didn’t like, address the issue and offer a refund or discount on a future stay. Sometimes just the acknowledgement and acceptance of their feedback is enough to satisfy a customer, but it is always best to offer something in compensation whether they ask or not. Be sure to record the complaint and use it as an opportunity to refine your business processes. Feedback (positive and negative) is a handy reviewing tool that can help to improve your service. 

Treat everything as a lesson

There can often be powerful lessons in customer expectations and how your business is faring so learning from negative (but fair) reviews is the first step in preventing future ones. If a customer has a bad experience that is resolved to their satisfaction, they are likely to tell others and continue using your service. Those who have had a negative experience remedied can even become powerful brand advocates for your business. An approach to feedback that listens to customer concerns and addresses them generates trust and customers that were previously unhappy can potentially delete their initial comment or post a positive follow-up. 

It takes a long time to build up a positive reputation and it can be undone quickly with a few negative reviews. The ability to address negative reviews is vital for your business to thrive. Following these simple steps will help you stay ahead of any negative reviews and show your customers that you are appreciative of their patronage and responsive to feedback. 

Photo by Katya Austin 


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