If anyone has to pick one industry where online reputation defines your brand, it’s hospitality. Customers search on different platforms – OTAs, online forums, travel blogs and even vlogs – to form their opinions. And they do it pretty soon.
In fact, a survey conducted by BrightLocal found that out two-thirds of customers form their opinion of a business after reading just four reviews. Now, if your brand is seeing a lot of negative reviews and ratings, your first impression is damaging. And the only people who benefit from it are your competitors!
So, what do you do about these reviews? How can you address and leverage these negative reviews to grow your brand?
Here’s a simple 3-step action plan that is designed to assist you to handle negative ratings intelligently.
Imagine a guest is scathing your brand via a tweet and your reply is the age-old ‘We are sorry to hear about this. We will get back to you shortly’. There’s nothing that could look worse in the public eye. Customers today want to interact with brands that truly care about them. It’s okay to slip up and make mistakes. But sending out insensitive templatized replies and equating that to replying on time is definitely not in today’s rule-book of dealing with negative feedback. Don’t forget that the customer is the king. And when they complain, the first step is to listen to what they’re saying. Dismissing their reviews with the assumption they are too demanding or want to purposefully damage your reputation will not help you build a great brand, not in this digital world.
What you must be doing: Put a face behind all social channels and other online sites where you have a presence. Assign individual agents for different
platforms. Humans can build a conversation, empathize with the customer and really understand the core issue.
How this impacts your business: By doing away with the templatized replies and humanizing these interactions, you can ensure that the customer is placated at an early stage. Right from the moment your agent replies back to a negative review, the customer knows that you are listening. This makes it comfortable for him to share more information about the experience which in turn, makes it easier for you to understand what the real issue is.
What many hospitality brands do not realize is that engaging with the customer, understanding the issue and telling them that it will be taken care of doesn’t magically improve your online reputation. Are you engaging with a bad review or rating? Great! What are you doing about it? How are you using it to improve your business?
What you must be doing: Negative feedback is your greatest source of learning. That’s also where you find some of the most powerful insights about your business. Use these insights to drive improvements in internal processes. For instance, if 10 customer reviews point to one common issue of ‘poor room service’ find ways in which you can fix it. Some of the things you can do include hiring more staff and providing better training. While this is from a strategic standpoint, you also need to make tactical adjustments. Collect feedback from the customer while they’re still in your property. More importantly, ensure that the customer is able to comfortably share feedback at any point of time during their stay. This provides you with a glaring opportunity to proactively fix negative experiences and preemptively reduce negative online reviews.
How this impacts your business: By constantly acting on negative feedback, you get to know what customers like and don’t like, their minimal expectations, how this expectation bar keeps evolving and, in the process, you are likely to come up with innovative ways to address grievances.
One thing most businesses in the hospitality sector are guilty of is that they do not close the loop entirely. I know I told you how important it is to listen, engage and act. But the feedback loop hasn’t come a full circle yet. Have you notified the customer about it? Does the customer/group of customers who have posted negative reviews know what steps you’ve taken to rectify a mistake?
What you must be doing: Start closing the feedback loop completely. What this means is that you need to let the customer know that you’ve acted on their feedback. Agents should reply back to negative reviews informing the customer that the issue has been fixed and even tell them what has been done to ensure it won’t occur again. Your response needs to reflect confidence that the problem is indeed fixed and that will happen only when you have genuinely fixed the problem. Go a step further and invite the customer to your property again, but do it by offering a discount, or a voucher that entails, for instance, free drinks, or a free Spa experience. Coupons and offers can be a great way to bring back customers after a negative experience and takes the risk away from the customer to visit your hotel or resort again.
How this impacts your business: Doing this not only builds customer confidence but also improves your online credibility. Even if a new visitor is viewing these negative reviews and the comments, he’ll understand that your brand takes customer feedback seriously and acts on it on time.
Maintaining a healthy online presence is not easy. It takes a lot of hard and tactful work. But this 3-step process should be a good place for you to start. Once you start empowering your agents to close the loop on negative reviews/ratings, you’ll start seeing disgruntled customers turn into delighted ones!
At LiveSalesMan, we offer Social Media Customer Care and Monitoring solution and can equip your business with a team of knowledgeable and highly trained Social Media Customer Care who will ensure every customer issue is heard, followed up with and acted upon. Talk to us today to learn more.