As you’re setting your goals for the upcoming year, an important element to consider is how you will manage your guest reviews and satisfaction surveys. A first step is to take an honest assessment of how your reviews are being managed now. Are you simply meeting your brand’s compliance or is there room for improvement when it comes to engaging with your guests online?
Be the Best in Your Competitive Set
You may also want to do a quick survey of how your competition is managing their reviews as well. Consider that they’re probably wrestling with some of the same issues in finding the time to manage this appropriately. You have a choice to either match what your competitors are doing or to beat them. I think that you’ll choose that you want to do it better. The sooner you put a strategy in place, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.
New Comment Cards
Online reviews are the digital equivalent of the printed comment cards that many businesses still use. However, rather than the one-way communication of leaving a comment card, online reviews give you an opportunity for a dialogue with guests about their experiences. When you respond it demonstrates that you care and that you value input.
When You Don’t Respond
Not responding to a review is actually a response, especially in the case of a negative comment. By not responding, a message is being sent that the guest’s opinion doesn’t matter. When you respond quickly in a public forum, it shows the online community that you’re the kind of business that listens to guests and wants to fix problems promptly. Customers appreciate when you take the time to respond to their online reviews which is a great step in building customer loyalty.
So, what’s a busy General Manager to do?
- Make sure you have enough internal or external resources to handle your reviews in a timely manner. Things happen quickly in an online world so you need to be prepared. Every comment, good or bad, deserves a reply.
- Think from a customer’s point of view. If you have a complaint or question, how soon would you want a response? What type of resolution would you be looking for?
- Use information gained from reviews to make necessary operational changes and/or tweak future offerings for guests.
Anatomy of a Good Response (see infographic)
Here are our top five actions to take when responding to online reviews.
1. Always say thank you
No matter how disappointed, angry, or downright rude a reviewer is, say thank you for the feedback. This seems simple, but coming across as sincere can be challenging. The best way to do so is to vary the language you use for thanking guests in your responses. If your potential guests see that every response begins with, “Thank you for your feedback on your stay,” they will know that you are on auto-pilot with your responses.
2. Keep it brief
Absolutely keep your response to the point. You do not need to explain in detail the resolution that you are taking – it is more important to inspire confidence that you will take action. Rather than talk about a training program that you have in place that may not have been used, assure your guest that you brought this issue to the attention of the individual who can ensure that proper training is in place.
3. Proofread and proofread again
It seems a bit obvious, but having grammatical errors or misspellings will make your response seem less credible. Ask someone else to review your response before you post it, especially if you are responding to several at one time. Your ability to see what is written versus what you meant to write is diminished the more times you see the same content.
4. Tailor your response to details in the review
Vary your language for each response and make sure you respond to the details of the review. Try to be as specific as possible, which lets guests know that you are paying attention. The last impression you want to give is that you have a “one size fits all” response. Each review deserves specific attention, just as each guest in your hotel deserves personal attention.
5. Have staff alert the GM when relevant
The GM probably does not want to know every time someone complains about the parking, but the GM should know if a guest raises a serious problem or you spot a recurring theme. If the issue relates to any of the following, alert the GM immediately: liability to the hotel, unresolved security issues, bed bugs (not other insects), or doubtful reviews.
Do You Need a Strategic Partner?
At iResponze, we know that responding to reviews requires consistent attention and a strategy for developing and maintaining your hotel’s personality. We have helped many clients meet the challenge, and we have learned a lot about how to be successful with your current and future guests. If you apply the action items listed above, you can meet the challenges of responding. Of course, we would welcome the opportunity to show how we can meet the challenge for you and your staff, leaving you all with more time to interact with the guests in front of you. Contact us for a free consultation today.