There are a lot of businesses that I work with who are vehemently opposed to creating a presence on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The argument these businesses have is that they know that people write bad reviews. And some people even write spiteful or inaccurate reviews. All of this is true. Surprisingly a lousy review be good for your business? Honestly.
For any business proprietor who owns their presence on review sites it can be a tense few moments after you get a notification that you have a new review until you read it. And, when you get a negative review, the first thing you want to do is figure out who wrote it and determine the quickest way of insulting their family for several generations back. Understandable.
In fact, I have been known to fire up the word processor and write a response that shows an ability to use words that my mother would have washed our mouths out with hot sauce for even thinking about. It’s fun. Go ahead and fire up your word processor and have at them. It’s therapeutic. But never, ever, ever let anyone see that except your spouse or business partner. Have a great laugh. Hit delete.
It can be particularly frustrating when someone writes a review that contains inaccurate information. The gnashing of teeth might make your dentist run for a safe place. But that is the first place where you find opportunity.
When I had the resort we had someone write a review where they said we don’t serve breakfast. Now this was odd for a bed and breakfast and I have no idea where they got this bit of misinformation. We asked them about any dietary factors in both an email and phone call when they made their reservations. We asked again when they checked in and told them our breakfast service hours.
But that review gave me the opportunity to respond politely (again, after the initial document I created insulting their lineage which nobody ever saw but which made me feel good). In fact, since there is no provision for them to respond to my response, I wrote a long, flowery description of the breakfast we served and how we sourced ingredients locally and respected people’s dietary restrictions and challenges. It was a great opportunity.
Another review challenged our housekeeping staff. That was an opportunity to extoll the virtues of our green cleaning practices and how we have environmentally safe cleaning products. And to apologize and talk about our new procedures with housekeeping and housekeeping supervision.
No matter what you do, there are people who don’t like how you do it. My wife and I disagree about how French fries should be prepared. I love them one way, she another. Same is true for hash browns. Someone might also take umbrage with how you do things. This is understandable. Opinions vary.
But when they post negative reviews about your business or how you do certain things, they’re leaving the door open for a management response about philosophy and vision and such.
There are also times where you or your team just goof. To err is human and some of us are much more human on some days.
A negative review that’s accurate just leaves the door open for a sincere apology along with an invitation to experience your business once again and give you a second chance. On you. This shows that you’re human and that you’re willing to own and correct mistakes.
Putting a human face on a business and a public demonstration that you’re willing to own your mistakes and work on continually improving says a lot about the quality of your operation.
If you just try to hide the mistakes we all know everybody makes them here and there and people are going to talk about them. If you have a mistake your business consistently makes people are going to take notice. So if someone, or several someones, post that in a public place your owning this mistake and detailing how you’re going to correct it could really drive business in.
The biggest thing to do is remain humble and positive about these mistakes. When someone is inaccurate or just wrong, a stance of humility and positivity in the response is also important.
Your response should honestly address the issues while also sell what you did or are planning to do to recognize and resolve the issue. Take the negative and turn it into an opportunity.
Another thing - I’ve seen business owners ignore their reviews but then become very, very defensive on social media. Remember social media is a public forum and your attitude and ability to deal with negative messaging there can also reflect well or badly on your business as well. You don’t see Mickey Mouse telling stories of how someone was rude while visiting the Magic Kingdom, even if they did leave a lousy review. Think of Mickey before posting gripes about your paying customers.
There is also a lot of ways not to do things. You may not love a train wreck, but you can’t help but watch it when it happens. One of the worst examples of a response to a negative review came from a Motel 6 in Westley, California. Not only is the response completely inappropriate, but also poorly written with numerous spelling errors. The response alone makes me want to avoid this place.
Negative reviews can actually generate additional new business and avoiding review sites altogether is a complete mistake. How you take advantage of this very unique opportunity can make the difference between earning more business or becoming the latest meme on social media.