The internet has had a dramatic impact on all kinds of commercial activities, but hotels are right at the top of the list. This should hardly come as a surprise, since by definition they are not located close to most of the people who will use their services.
Of course, this provides plenty of opportunities for online marketing and booking, as well as including extras like customer reviews. However, the latter is a two-edged sword; just as positive reviews can be great for business, negative ones can have a very bad impact. Indeed, guests who leave disgruntled may be more unhappy than consumers of other goods and services, precisely because a good hotel stay should be part of an enjoyable weekend or holiday. That could fuel extra anger and thus tempt people to exaggerate.
Cutting off the problem at source
All this means it is important to avoid those negative reviews as much as possible. But achieving this is no easy task. However hard you try to give perfect service, mistakes, accidents and misunderstandings will happen. For that reason, the first thing any management team should do is have a strategy in place to deal with any problems that arise as soon as possible. That means being willing to acknowledge the reality that things will go wrong, however much you pride yourself on getting things right.
The saying ‘pride comes before a fall’ is entirely apt in customer service. A refusal to acknowledge a mistake when one has clearly occurred is sure to put a customer’s back up. By contrast, humility and a willingness to make amends can make the world of difference. For example, suppose a customer is unhappy with the state of their room. A poor response would be to deny the problem and take no remedial action. A better way forward would be to move them swiftly if at all possible or send someone to swiftly deal with the issue. As a gesture of goodwill, provide the customer with a discount or a few freebies.
Make a positive from a negative
While acknowledgement of fault may be humbling, it means that even if a problem is mentioned in a customer review, the likelihood is that they will also mention how swiftly you acted to sort it out. If this includes phrases like “friendly” and “couldn’t do enough”, you will find the review will in fact turn out to be a very good one after all.