Man on computer who has just had a bad review on TripAdvisor

The 7 Golden Rules To Turn Negative Reviews Into New Customers

Online reviews are powerful. They can reach would-be customers worldwide, quickly and easily spreading the word about your business.

But what if you get a negative review?

Ignoring a bad review is a dangerous option for a hotel or rental property. The truth is that it doesn't matter whether the review you get is negative or positive. If you don't respond, it tells your customers that you don't care what they think.

When you ignore criticism, damaging your reputation in the process, your competitors take advantage of the situation by drawing in your prospective customers. Pretending that a bad review doesn't exist is worse than doing nothing. Luckily, there are lots of ways to handle negative reviews in ways that tell customers that you're mature, genuine, and resilient to criticism. Here are seven strategies for handling a negative online review. As a bonus, be sure to check out the don'ts of responding to reviews.

1. Keep calm

When you deal with a bad review, you're actually dealing with someone else's emotions. The other party is upset or angry and is lashing out at you for reasons which may or may not be valid (we'll cover that later). In all situations like this, it's best to keep a cool head.

If your response is similarly passionate, you'll soon regret replying. Prospective customers will see proof that your response to criticism is fragile and sensitive. So when you feel like you might react emotionally to a negative review, pause and collect yourself before your automatic answer turns tables.

Take an hour or two to circulate your thoughts, but don't hesitate too long. You might want to write your reply into a Word document and look it over a few times before copying and pasting it into the response field. This gives you time to edit your words without the risk of accidentally hitting “submit”.

2. Turn the negativity around

Negative feedback, if handled positively, can be helpful. It can draw people’s attention toward the good qualities of your business. As a result, you stand to earn more positive reviews.

Highlight your strengths while maintaining political correctness. For example, your reply to an angry guest might read, “We are very sorry you had a bad experience. We’ve been in this business for over ten years now, and we believe in providing the best quality services…” Continue from there.

Avoid being defensive, even when the customer is unjust.

The 7 Golden Rules To Turn Negative Reviews Into New Customers

3. Remember, you’re in the spotlight

Whatever you say online goes on record. Everyone will see it. Most people might not comment, but many will keep themselves updated about your current business affairs by reading your responses to a bad review. That's why it is essential to demonstrate how thoughtful, caring, and efficient you are when managing your customers’ complaints.

Always keep yourself updated on the latest and the best review response practices by following industry experts. There are also plenty of free and paid training material for hospitality marketers.

4. Learn

Things go wrong. People have bad days. No matter how hard you try, sometimes a guest's stay won't go how you expected. What’s important is to retain the disappointed customer and leave an impact on others with your quick attention and sensitive approach to solving the problem.

Try to rectify any pattern that has formed that negatively affects your customers. This will remove the reasons that inspire customers to leave a bad review in the first place.

Learn - Turn Negative Reviews Into New Customers

5. Use the personal touch

Address the customer by their name and be specific about the problem they faced. This shows that you are not taking the customer for granted and assures them that the situation will be genuinely looked into and improved.

Nobody appreciates a standard reply. If you copy and paste the same text in response to everyone that leaves a review, your customers will take note. Using a personalised approach is a good way to attract more people to your website and business, regardless of the circumstance. When you're dealing with a bad review, it's more critical than ever.

6. Express yourself appropriately

Be honest and human when you respond. Tell your customer how upset you are that they are dissatisfied with the service you provided and describe how you wish to correct it.

If possible, let them know that you’ve resolved the matter. Use accessible language to make the customer feel that you’ve taken the issue personally. For example, use “looked into” instead of “investigated” or “we are very sorry” instead of “we are in a state of distress”.

Express yourself appropriately- Turn Negative Reviews Into New Customers

7. Rectify any misunderstanding with poise

Spiteful comments are disturbing, especially when they are prejudiced or unjust. Biting back won’t do any good. Instead, keep your cool and stay positive. You could start your response to unfair criticism like this:

“We do not encourage ‘he-said-she-said’ situations, but considering your opinion about this matter on a public platform, we’d like to cast some light on what has happened here.”

Doing so will show your future customers both sides of the story, allowing them to form their own conclusions.

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