Client reviews are essential for any business. Positive reviews are especially crucial when it comes to the hotel industry; a good product can stand on its own merits, but hotels must deliver the whole package: clean and beautiful accommodations, excellent service and a great experience from check-in to check-out.
If that experience is not shared widely by guests, cash will be left on the table as consumers rely on reviews now more than ever to make their purchasing decisions.
A savvy business knows how to use customer reviews to their advantage. They know how to generate reviews, garner the best possible reviews, and respond appropriately to both good and bad reviews. Fortunately, these are all skills that businesses can learn.
Here are five top tips for utilizing customer reviews to your best advantage:
It is important to create a variety of opportunities for your clients to leave a review of your establishment. Don’t be shy about asking for reviews – politely requesting feedback lets guests know you care about them and value their opinions. It also shows that you are willing to be held accountable for their experience.
Some simple ways to encourage reviews include:
- Presenting guests with business cards that feature an invitation to review your hotel
- Sending follow-up emails with review invitations and links to popular review sites
- Providing free WiFi to guests – they can’t post a review if they can’t log on!
- Encouraging guests personally at checkout to complete a review
Keep in mind that your guests are busy people. Any method you use to encourage reviews should be easy, fast and engaging.
Take Advantage of Technology/Tools
There are many online technological resources and tools that can help you with reputation management. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can help you engage with clients directly, and provide a convenient and familiar forum for feedback. In addition, reputation management companies such as BirdEye, ReviewPro and Hotel Management Services can analyze and research your online presence and your reviews, and help you gain better (and positive) exposure.
Stay Objective and Address Every Review
Your business is obviously highly important to you, and it is easy to get defensive about a poor review, especially if you feel it is malicious or unwarranted. However, you must put aside your feelings and analyze reviews with an open mind, common sense and objectivity. While it may be true that not every bad review is fairly deserved, you can’t dismiss any of them offhand without investigation. Always keep the mindset of growth and improvement – what you first perceive to be an unjust review may in fact be something that has been in your blind spot, is in need of your attention, and will give you an opportunity to grow and become better. If it turns out that the review is unfairly earned, you can always offer up a reasoned, polite defense.
It is imperative to customer relations that you answer each review in earnest whether it is in defense or in acknowledgement, and that you offer thanks, an apology, and/or compensation depending on what the situation requires.
Respond to Reviews Appropriately
The right response to reviews can really make a difference in the way your business is perceived. A potential guest can read a poor review from an unknown third party objectively, but your response offers direct insight into your company’s principles and priorities that can’t be ignored.
Always maintain a professional and respectful tone. Refer to reviewers by name, and thank them for taking their valuable time to post a review. Address positive remarks and concerns specifically and individually – never deliver canned responses. Thank positive reviewers for their praise and warmly invite them back. Address the concerns of negative reviewers with an apology, and ask them for an opportunity to make things right. Have a protocol in place for responding to reviews, and make sure all of the pertinent people are aware of it.
Use Reviews as a Learning Experience
Reviews give you a unique opportunity to improve your business. You can use the information to create lists of both strengths and weaknesses, then use the lists to both offer positive feedback to your employees, and to incentivize them to do better in weak areas. Eventually, as areas of weakness are addressed, reviews will naturally improve over time.