Master the Management Response to a Negative Review. Five Things to do Before You Start Writing.
Updated: Jun 9
American Industrialist and Innovator Henry Ford famously said, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." I find this quote so practical and useful when thinking about hospitality reputation cultivation and responding to negative reviews.
That's because it's important to know that reputation isn't based on what you say, but rather on what you do. What powerful management responses have in common is that they are based on actions already taken.
Today, most negative reviews go unresponded to according to a study done by ReviewPro. When hotels do respond, in my own observations looking at reviews and responses from around the world, negative review responses rarely show what travelers really want to see, -true authority, personal responsibility, and progress in action. People want to feel heard, and to know that the business cares enough to take action based on their feedback.
That means that for those willing to put in a bit of effort up front, you can set your business up for a higher level of success and stand out from the competition with ease.
If you are ready to outshine the competition, Adele Gutman presents for you in this week's episode:
5 things to do before you begin to write your management response to a negative review.
Do take a few minutes to listen, but here are the highlights from the podcast.
Listen: We have all heard that it is better to listen to understand than to listen to learn. It is certainly true when it comes to negative reviews. This complaint may be a passing moment for this guest, but for us, it is our business. We want to understand, find the root cause of the issue and prevent any friction points from irritating future guests. We want to do all we can to give every guest a happy, seamless experience that they will rave about. Here’s an opportunity to learn and we don’t want to miss our shot at getting things right.
Document. Make a list of each complaint or pain point no matter how small. The devil is in the details. Dig into this right away while the stay and the details are fresh in the minds of your team. Later, you will go back to that list and evaluate how well your modifications have succeeded in solving the problem or if more needs to be done.
Rally the troops. When you invite your team to partner with you on the investigation and problem solving you are going to get a better outcome and a higher level of participation. You are also simultaneously training your team to be great problem solvers themselves. Most important: Keep your mission and goals top of mind as you satisfy your curiosity as to what went wrong for the guest and why. With partnership and respect, ask questions that inspire thoughtful discussion among your team members and let them feel valued, included, free and safe to speak up with their ideas.
Identify: With your team, identify opportunities for possible improvement. Look at how you might change communications, mindsets, processes, or products to solve the problem. Never blame the team. You picked them, and it is your job to give them the tools, training, guidance, inspiration, and confidence they need to take action for the guests’ well-being. Review impact, benefits, possible unintended consequences, costs, and ease of implementation.
Implement: Pick a plan that is as simple to implement as possible and that has a good chance of providing the impact and level of continuous improvement in guest happiness. Remember, you are not just looking to satisfy this one guest. You are trying to become a hotel and a team that future guests will love even more in the future than they have in the past. You are also working to alleviate stress on your team and empower them with the tools they need to be and feel successful. That reduces turnover and provides a high-level guest experience that your guests will be willing to pay more, stay more, and say more about in terms of 5-star reviews, referrals, and recommendations.
Now that you have a plan for improvement thanks to the feedback of your guest, your mature, responsible, action-oriented management response practically writes itself!
Don't miss the upcoming follow-up to this episode.
We will soon provide tips to walk you through some best practices on how to write winning management responses to negative reviews. I assure you that it will not be the same as what you have heard elsewhere. You won't want to miss these incredibly effective tips!
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Have a great week and reach for the stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐