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How to respond to a bad review

31 May 2013


If you run a hotel, restaurant or another company in the hospitality sector, you have probably dealt with them before. We are talking about reviews. Those little pieces of text that can fill you up with joy, but can also bring up some totally different feelings, such as anger, disbelief and even sadness. Sometimes it can be difficult to respond nicely to reviews that have hurt your feelings, reviews that you don’t agree with or reviews that are just plain rude. Today we give you some tips on how to deal with them.

It’s not personal

First of all, keep in mind that a bad review is often not meant as an attack to you as a person. People usually leave a bad review because they feel like they weren’t being heard before. Maybe they feel like you didn’t solve a problem in the right manner or perhaps one of your staff members was being rude to them. Even if you don’t see it that way, that may be the way that someone feels. They are not trying to hurt your company and they are definitely not trying to hurt you. They just want someone to listen to them.

Be there to listen

Even though people on review websites are often just looking for an audience for their story, a lot of company owners still aren’t on there to listen. In fact, people don’t even expect them to. But wouldn’t it be great to turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy one? You can do that by responding in the right way. So be active on Tripadvisor and other review websites. Let people know you are there and want to hear what they have to say.

Cool down before you start writing

No matter how angry, sad or hurt you feel after reading a bad review, don’t let this affect the way you respond. First of all, an angry or negative response will ruin your opportunities to encourage this person to return to your company, and secondly, other people can read what you reply as well! If you respond in a great way, this is a sign for other people that you are a decent company and maybe aren’t as bad as the review implies.

If you do feel angry or hurt, wait a while before you respond. We have seen replies that were obviously written very fast and while angry. The result is a response full of spelling and grammar mistakes, capital letters and rude comments. That is not the way you want to come across to your customers.

Never ever EVER start a discussion

If there is one thing you should never do, it’s to start a discussion. This only leads to frustration and in the end there is never a winner. You can explain things, but never say the customer is wrong or imply that they are lying. You don’t need to agree with the reviewer all the time, but just say: “Thank you for sharing the way you feel about this with us. We are sorry you weren’t satisfied.” This doesn’t imply they are right, but it does show that you have listened to what they had to say and take it seriously.

Show that you care

And last but definitely not least, show them that you care. If a customer isn’t satisfied, you have to be there to make him or her feel better. Apologise (even if you feel like you don’t need to) and try to solve the problem. Ask the reviewer to call you or send them a private message so you can think of a solution together. In the end it’s your customers who make your company a success or a failure. Of course, you can’t make everyone happy, but you can at least try!

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