Every business during its life time will experience a negative review. It’s how you deal with that review that makes the difference. One of the largest review sites used today is TripAdvisor, especially for location based businesses, so knowing how to handle negative reviews on TripAdvisor is a must. If incorrectly handled, a negative review can start a downward slope for a business. Check out our tips for handling a negative Facebook comments too, if you've got an account for your business.
Find out what happened
The initial step when dealing with a negative review is to find out what happened. Look at the review impersonally with your team. Is this the first time you are getting this feedback, or is it a developing trend? What was the main problem the customer experienced? Knowing the background can help you determine the cause of the problem.
It might be that the reviewer was having a bad day so nothing went right anywhere or even your business was having a bad day. For example, a customer complains about the length of time it took to cook a meal, kindly apologise and advise them of the circumstances that may have led to the delay (maybe you had a few members of staff off sick, or equipment malfunctioned), then ask them to ring and book again with you promising a service on par with the other 5 star reviews you have received. When they rebook, make a note and provide a little extra service when next dealing with them. This could result in the reviewer returning to leave a much more satisfactory review. Do not be afraid to actually ask them if there is anything you can do to make it right.
Once you've established the problem you must acknowledge it even though it may be annoying to do so. Apologise for the experience they've had with your company making sure you take the time to collect your thoughts and then come up with a polite, friendly management response.
Say something like:
“Thank you for taking the time to review our property/business/hotel. We greatly value the opinions of our customers, and we apologise for not meeting your expectations. We would cherish the opportunity to speak with you about your experience and would ask that you kindly contact us at your earliest convenience.”
TripAdvisor even suggests addressing the unknown by writing a confidence building management response which includes:
- Who are you writing this for?
- Are you addressing their core concerns?
- Are you showing that you care?
- Are you truly sorry?
To do this, log in to the management area and under menu, choose the “Reviews” tab then “Respond to Reviews”. TripAdvisor has several guidelines on how responses to reviews must be written, these can be found here (https://www.tripadvisorsupport.com/hc/en-gb/articles/200614337-Management-Response-Guidelines)
The main points are it must be family friendly, no profanity, hate speech or threats. Although friendly, you must still be professional and represent your business in the correct manner. Even if you know the individual who left the review, or remember them attending your business, it is advised against identifying them to others. If you do not follow these guidelines, your response will not be posted to the reviewer and they may feel they have been ignored.
On the other hand, if you feel the review has been left maliciously then contact TripAdvisor directly and request it to be looked into. It may be that it is a fraudulent review, such as a competitor or paid for review, which is not welcomed by TripAdvisor.
A negative review can be good
If a bad review genuinely highlights a flaw within your business then use it and any follow up comments to improve your business. Encourage visitors to leave feedback, even follow up a day or so later to check everything is ok, so they feel more valued as a customer. The good reviews will definitely drown out the bad one.
One thing that shouldn’t be shied away from is dealing with a bad review publicly and in a professional manner. If others see a bad review with no interaction or solution to it, they may feel it’s been ignored. Responding publicly allows people to see your acceptance, apology and willingness to fix the issue. Use a negative review to your advantage to prove you genuinely care about your clients and the service they receive. As long as you keep on top of the reviews by checking them on a regular basis, you can intercept any trouble before it significantly impacts your business.