In an industry where we rely heavily on customer feedback, negative reviews are an unfortunate part of the package.
There are steps we can have in place to try to avoid negative reviews, for example dealing with a negative experience before a customer completes the tour, by emailing visitors for direct feedback soon after the tour, and being responsive to comments.
Sometimes we can miss if a customer has had a negative experience or we can think a situation is resolved until we receive a low rated review.
Once these reviews are posted on an independent website and live for potential customers to see, how do we manage the impact?
Here are 4 simple tips to put in place:
1. Always respond to negative reviews
A feature offered on most platforms is that you, the business owner/representative, can add a response to these reviews. It's a great way to show you care and gives you the opportunity to explain. Not enough companies take advantage of this tool!
A response is not just for the benefit of the review writer, but (more so) for potential new customers. They can see that negative reviews are rare for your company and can read what happened from your perspective or the steps you have put in place to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
Remember - Your response will also be posted online and will not be removed. Always keep your feedback professional and concise.
Here is an example:
Dear Mrs Briggs,
I am so sorry to hear about your recent experience on our sunset boat cruise. This is one of our most popular tours and most well reviewed by our customers. We can assure you that your experience was a one off and certainly not the experience that we promote.
Then reference a key point they have commented on, and a short explanation.
You referenced that the queue was too long for our delicious lunch buffet. Did you know that we have another buffet station on the other side of our boat to avoid any wait?
Lastly, always finish your response on a positive and thankful note.
We really appreciate your feedback and will use this to continue to improve our service. I hope to welcome you and your family back soon.
John Smith, Managing Director, Sunset Boat Cruises
2. Make direct contact with the customer
Don't go into specifics in your review response. To do this, speak to the customer direct. Contact them by phone or email to apologize, explain and offer a solution to make it right. Ask for more details if you are unsure about anything written in their feedback.
This customer may not return, but by showing you care you can be satisfied that you have given a professional service and (hopefully) the customer will not write another negative review on another online platform.
3. Know when to admit a mistake
Where you understaffed that day or was it just one of those days? Mistakes happen, and honesty really is the best policy in a customer-facing business.
During the tour explain what has happened and offer a solution that is fair. For example, give the customer an opportunity to come back, extend part of the tour, offer something unique, or finish the tour with complimentary drinks.
4. Make a change when it's required
If you receive negative feedback for the same issue repeatedly then you should consider what steps you can put in place to change it. If customers are complaining about the condition of the toilets, looks at options to refresh or refurbish. If they are unhappy that they didn't know that they needed to print their tickets in advance, then add this to a communication email prior to their tour. Small changes can make a big impact to your customer's experience.
Here are the 10 qualities every tour guide should have: