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While negative reviews are not necessarily something to be feared, it is essential to respond to them. The numbers reinforce this – some 85% of TripAdvisor users agree that a thoughtful response to a bad review will improve their impression of a hotel, and 80% say that seeing responses make them believe that “the hotel cares more about its guests”.
“If you get a bad review, it is often from a person who is engaged,” says digital consultant Sofie Sandell. “People who care enough to leave a comment will appreciate the very simple step of recognising that you have received the review. If you explain what you’re going to do about it and apologise if appropriate, then you’re more likely to get them back.”
Sandell favours the personal touch in responses. “I’ve been following the retailer John Lewis for years, and they are always humanising their customer support. So on Facebook they say ‘hi, this is Amy, please call this number and we will help you to resolve the problem’. I think using your name when replying makes the customer feel like a person, not just a client.”
Yet many businesses are still failing to grasp the importance of engaging with their customers. Sandell tells the story of working with a large luxury hotel that had a policy of not responding to reviews. “It’s as if someone has called you and you just remain silent on the other end. You have to acknowledge them, that’s what people want.
“Other brands make the person complaining feel stupid or as if there’s something wrong with them,” she adds, “and when you do that you definitely lose them.”