Dealing With Negative Comments Online

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negative reviewsCustomer perception is reality. Negative comments on blogs, and unfavorable reviews on sites like Yelp & Google+, can hurt a brand’s reputation and this customer perception. Whether the comments are based on a customer’s negative experience with the business’ product, or service received at a restaurant or hotel, a business has an obligation in this age of light-speed social media to address the issue and try to make it right.

Today, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews. What does this mean? It means that potential customers are looking at businesses’ reputation and what other customers think of them, and if the feedback isn’t good, then it means simply that the business is losing customers, and therefore, its revenue and profits. In fact, according to a Harvard business study, a 1-star rating increase on Yelp can mean a 9% increase in revenue.

Hospitality Defender has several tactics and suggestions that we recommend to our clients who are faced with this type of negative online feedback.

  1. Respond to the complaint or negative review as soon as possible. Hospitality Defender believes that every minute counts, and responds on our clients’ behalf, seamlessly and transparently, within 3 hours… and usually within a matter of minutes.
  2. Respond right out in the open. Other people (potential customers) will see that the business cares about the customer’s feedback.
  3. Keep it positive and apologetic. Resist the urge to fight back.
  4. Get as much information and offer to make it right. This may involve some kind of refund or gift card, and in some cases, a combination of both.
  5. Thank the customer for taking the time to share their feedback, and send out a personal note along with their incentive to return.
  6. Many times, a guest will adjust their review or comment to reflect this positive customer service and problem resolution, and often will increase the review star rating.

Customers want to feel like their feedback matters and is taken seriously. We’ve gotten countless comments from customers about how they are blown away by getting a response to their Yelp reviews. This is a big indicator that most businesses aren’t doing that. Businesses that take that customer feedback to heart and realize that customer perception is reality will thrive and grow, and their online reputation will be solid. Businesses simply can’t afford to ignore it anymore.

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Jay Skowron is the Founder & Principal at Hospitality Defender LLC, dedicated to helping restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in the hospitality industry improve and maintain their online review ratings.

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