6 Lessons I’ve Learned About Managing Online Reviews

By Daniel E. Craig, Founder, Reknown

Through my work over the past decade helping hotels and travel businesses build and leverage a positive online reputation, I’ve learned a few lessons. Here are the top six.

1. Stop ranting about bad reviews.
Yes, negative comments can sting, and you’re passionate about your business, but ranting only makes things worse. Show leadership by respecting your critics and inspiring staff to learn from feedback and constantly strive to improve. Besides, a few snarky or untrue comments are harmless compared to the true injustices in the world.

Let it go. Channel that energy toward fixing problems and earning positive reviews.

2. Stop over-promising.
Gone are the days of luring in customers with fairy-tale descriptions and fantasy photos and then failing to deliver on promises. Consumers expect transparency, authenticity and accountability from businesses today, and when they don’t receive it they share their disappointment on social media.

By under-promising and over-delivering, you will earn trust, advocacy and loyalty from customers.

3. Know when and how to respond.
It’s great that you’re taking the time to respond to customer feedback, but if you post meaningless, canned responses to every review, you’re missing the point. Respond selectively to reviews that call for an apology, an explanation or a simple thank-you, and focus on writing brief, thoughtful and meaningful responses.

As a rule, engage and appease detractors, thank advocates and ignore trolls.

4. Empower your employees.
Do your employees understand why reviews are so important to your business, and the role they play in shaping customer impressions? Are they trained to be alert to signs of trouble and empowered to resolve onsite issues and prevent them from escalating to online complaints?

By investing in ongoing training and on-the-job coaching, you will keep staff members engaged in optimizing the customer experience.

5. Stop pressuring customers to write reviews.
Send a follow-up email requesting a review, but don’t allow employees to badger customers to write reviews and mention them by name. It’s awkward and unseemly, and it can backfire.

Focus on providing remarkable experiences, and the rave reviews will flow organically.

6. Recognize your staff.
Use negative feedback as a constructive learning tool, and use positive feedback to recognize and motivate staff. It was years ago, but I still keep copies of letters from my general manager commending me for positive feedback from guests, which came with a crisp $5 bill. It wasn’t about the money, it was about recognition. Although rewards help too.

© 2017 Daniel E. Craig


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