Don’t get mad. Be nice. Here’s how to handle bad reviews of your hotel, resort or spa.
Online reviews matter. They can make or break your spa or hospitality business.
Research has found that:
Research consistently finds that a vast majority of people will factor online reviews into their purchase decisions – and travelers are no exception. People read reviews before booking a service or place to stay. A 2019 TripAdvisor survey found that 72% of respondents always or frequently read reviews before making a decision on places to stay and eat, or things to do. And the figure was even higher when for accommodation bookings, with four out of five participating travelers (81%) always or frequently reading reviews before booking a place to stay.
You must stay on top of your reviews and your company’s online reputation. We imagine you’re already offering top tier customer service at your spa, hotel, resort, or wellness business. But no matter how hard you work, someone is eventually going to be displeased – and even the best of the best make mistakes.
Here are some strategies for handling bad onlines reviews so that you come out on top.
Respond promptly and professionally
Responding to negative reviews promptly and professionally shows that you are paying attention. One survey shows that more than half of customers expect companies to respond to reviews. And, according to a 2018 Harvard Business Review study titled Replying to Customer Reviews Results in Better Ratings, “When hotels start responding, they receive 12% more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars (on a 1-to-5 scale). These gains may seem small, but they can have a significant effect on the hotel’s rating, due to how platforms like TripAdvisor round ratings up or down.” Address the customer’s concerns and show that you are taking it seriously.
Don’t get angry or defensive
It’s important to remain calm and professional when responding to negative reviews. Avoid getting defensive or attacking the customer, as this can make the situation worse and make you look like a jerk. Be gracious, no matter how absurd you might think the person’s complaint. The more gracious you are, the sillier the other person will look if they are not gracious, and so they are likely to be gracious as well.
Take the conversation offline
Encourage the customer to contact you directly to discuss the issue further. This can prevent things from escalating and further negative comments from being posted online. If you know who the person is, take it upon yourself to reach out by email or phone.
Find a solution
Does the customer have a legitimate complaint? If so, you should acknowledge its legitimacy and attempt to rectify the situation by offering a solution or compensation, such as a discount, or free product, service, or experience. This shows that you take customer service seriously and are willing to make things right. Even if you aren’t convinced the complaint is legitimate, it can help to make a peace offering.
You can apologize because you’re sorry the reviewer is not happy without admitting to being at fault, if you feel you were not. A sincere apology can be an effective means of disarming the aggrieved party by forcing the complainant to shift to an attitude of magnanimity in order to maintain their power position. If you are effusive enough in your apology, there is no point in continuing to attack you as it starts to make them look and feel petty.
Collect as many positive reviews as possible
Happy customers are much less likely than unhappy ones to leave reviews without being prompted to do so. And most people won’t leave a review without being asked, while most will reportedly do so if you do ask them. So, ask.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews to offset the negative. This will help improve your overall rating and reputation. Also, research shows that businesses with a minimum of 200 reviews generate twice as much revenue as those with fewer.
Send out customer satisfaction surveys after a guest leaves your spa or property and, if they indicate that they are happy with their experience, promptly request that they leave you a review. Software can help. For example, Book4Time partner Demandforce can send automated review requests via email or text message, after which reviews can be published directly to Google. You can also receive real-time alerts when a review of your business is posted online and generate instant replies.
Say thank you
Find your gratitude. Even if you have to do it through gritted teeth, thank the customer for their feedback and for sharing their experience. You might also thank them for bringing gaps in your customer experience to your attention and for showing you where you need to improve.
Learn from the experience
Use negative reviews as an opportunity to learn and improve your business. Be honest with yourself and your team about potential issues that should be addressed and identify any recurring ones that come up repeatedly in reviews. Take steps to address these issues with training and making sure everyone is aligned. Your brand reputation depends on this.
Of course, the best way to handle negative online reviews is to avoid them in the first place. Do your best to ensure that your guest experience is exquisite from end to end – and above reproach.
Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.
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