Chris Ward, founder of Hotel Makers and former commercial director at Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds, shares his advice on dealing with feedback when the going gets tough.
If the feedback is in person, offer to go somewhere quiet, sit them down and hear their feedback in full. Listening is absolutely key and let them finish before replying. Try to depersonalise what you are hearing and look at things from their side to help form a balanced view. With the nature of online feedback being so instant, try and deal with any negative feedback when the guest is with you to minimize the reputation management risk.
Show compassion and be genuinely apologetic if you have made a mistake, which happens. Ask the guest how you can turn things around for them and make an appropriate gesture. Honesty goes along way and in most cases it is how you deal with an issue, not the issue itself that turns a guest back onside.
Managing feedback from all the various third party review sites can be very timely. Consider using some aggregation software to help manage this process. Look for any consistent trends, for example you may have regular negative feedback about an area of service such as breakfast that needs addressing.
In my experience there is also a direct correlation with positive reputation management and business levels. Too many negative reviews in a row can have a direct impact on bookings, so do not take it lightly because your guests certainly don’t and it informs a significant part of their decision making process to visit you over your competitors.
Seek feedback rather than hide away from it in fear of receiving a negative review. Embrace it by asking for guests to comment during experience touch points, both verbally and in form format. Don’t be afraid to say how can we do things better or what would you like to see us do. Simple questions, but so rarely asked. Treat feedback with your teams as a vehicle to help improve your business to deliver and enhance the experiences your guests are looking for.