Respond to Online Negative Reviews

Web 2.0 (social media) allows customers to post their reviews online, which creates Word-of-Mouth (WOM) marketing effect for hotels and restaurants. As managers, we certainly want our guests to post positive comments and hopefully, spread such positive feedback to as many people as possible. However, no matter how hard we try, we may occasionally see some negative reviews. The questions are when we shall respond to a negative review and when we should NOT respond to a negative review.

Lisa Barone initiated a discussion at SmallBuzTrends.com on March 17. I think she made some really good points. I agree with her that we shall respond to a negative review when
(1) we made a mistake --- then fix it,
(2) guests made a false claim --- then defend for ourselves,
(3) more and more guests agree to a negative comment --- probably that is real problem. Then, acknowledge the problem and fix it,
(4) we are certain that we can win back the customers by addressing the problem --- then address the problem for the guest.

More importantly, we should NOT respond to a negative review when
(1) the reviewer has a tendency of posting negative comments everywhere --- please ignore him/her and focus our positive energy in something else more important, or encourage more positive feedback from other guests.
(2) “it will do more harm than good” --- please use our best judgment and not to irritate a guest who is already on fire.
(3) we still feel angry about a comment --- please calm down before we respond to it.

These are excellent suggestions. I just would like to add two more comments:
(1) From our previous discussion in this blog, we found guests also pay attention to consistency of our hotels’ or restaurants’ reviews and ratings. While we should take negative feedback seriously, we shall not feel bad for only one or two random negative feedback.
(2) We need to be proactive and try to lead our guests to follow our discussion. In my opinions, managing a good Facebook and Twitter account to engage with our “loyal” fans could be more beneficial than passively responding to guest feedback.

References:
Small Business Trends: http://tinyurl.com/LinchiKwok03232010

Picture was copied from: http://tinyurl.com/LinchiKwok03232010P

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