Tips For Responding To Negative Reviews Online

Tips For Responding To Negative Reviews Online

Social media use today is so widespread that everyone knows how it can make or break reputations. In Australia, almost 80% of the country’s nearly 26 million people are active social media users [1]. This means that social media has opened up practically everyone to public scrutiny.

The Hospitality sector is amongst the most reviewed businesses online. This includes those in the accommodation, food and beverage, travel and tourism, and entertainment categories.

With social media and other online reviews functioning being very much like the digital counterparts of 'word-of-mouth' marketing, feedback posted online can affect your business. Stellar reviews can persuade people to transact with you even when they don’t know your brand. On the other hand, negative comments can push people away, making handling and responding to such reviews more challenging.

If you’re the owner, in marketing or customer service, or the social media manager of a restaurant, hotel, or some other hospitality business, here are some useful tips on how to respond to negative reviews.

1. Respond quickly and sincerely

When it comes to replying to negative comments, time is of the essence because you don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of users are online. You don’t want that audience to chance upon the negative comment posted on Facebook, Twitter or some other platform and notice how no one in your company responded.

Let’s say someone commented that they stayed at your hostel and found your washrooms without toilet paper and handwashing liquid. This could have been an isolated incident, but people don’t know that, so it’s crucial to respond immediately. 

When you don’t respond fast enough, it can be taken as a sign that you don’t care and are simply brushing the comment off. Acknowledge the review and thank the customer and provide some reassurance that the matter will be looked into. It's vital you use appropriate language and tone of voice so as not to appear defensive or arrogant. 

2. Try to keep interactions short and off social media

When responding initially to a complaint on social media, encourage the user to contact your company. Provide them with an email address or phone number where they can reach you directly to discuss and fix the problem.

Avoid arguing back and forth on a public forum, as this can make you seem combative and unprofessional.

A recommended initial reply is, "Thank you for your valued feedback. We strive to provide the best experience and we'll endeavour to address your issue so we can do better. Please forward your email or phone number to [[email protected]] so we can contact you directly to discuss this further? We'd like to know more and a direct chat about this instance will help us deliver better in future."

3. Take ownership and highlight the positive

Instead of becoming emotional and lashing out, keep your cool and take ownership. Remember, they’re not complaining about you; they’re talking about their experience. So, put yourself in their shoes and respond based on that perspective.

For example, a diner says that your restaurant serves great food, but their experience with food delivery was bad because of your takeaway packaging — that is, there were spilled drinks and sauces. Now, this could be a problem with the lids or the quality of the packaging materials.

Whatever the reason, take responsibility for the incident, extend your apologies, and end your response with an offer to make things right.

Don’t forget to thank them for mentioning how great the food is at your restaurant, as that’s one positive comment others should remember.

4. Provide an explanation

There are times when the negative feedback you receive from customers is not totally unexpected. In such cases, provide an explanation right away.

If you run a caravan park or accommodation service and someone complains about the lack of running water for several hours, tell them why. Perhaps you posted an announcement about this on your socials and in the reception area but they didn’t see it. In any case, let them know the reason why, without being defensive, as an amicable response will highlight to future clients you care about their experience.

5. Extend an invitation

Courtesy plays a major role in the hospitality industry.

Whether your customer had a problem with the food they ate, amenities, tour schedule, transportation or something else, use their review as an opportunity. Ask them to give you a chance to win back their business and let them experience the brand of service you want to be known for. Offer them a discount or a complimentary meal or service. 

Criticism as opportunity

No one likes to be criticised, but giving and receiving feedback is part of life and business.

Although responding to negative reviews is not pleasant, it’s essential to get to the bottom of the problem. This way, you’re able to keep your customers and encourage others to try your product or service.


How can Reward Hospitality help?

It's a tough gig running a business and there are days when you wish you could get on with the job without all the extra clutter. Reward Hospitality is your one-stop-shop for hospitality supplies and we have the resources to take care of your provisioning behind the scenes while you get on with delivering exceptional customer service. 

Register for an online account or request a consultation with one of our representatives to discuss how you can take advantage of a Reward Hospitality Trade Account with access to a line of credit and exclusive trade pricing for approved applicants.