“Moral of the story is, avoid this company at all costs unless you don’t mind being talked to like a piece of sh**.” Yes, this is what someone really said in a rant we found while researching this article. You know you can’t make everyone happy, but what do you do when a client leaves a scathing review out of nowhere? Knowing how to respond to negative reviews can turn a highly toxic, public-facing post into an opportunity to show what your tour guiding company is really about.
How to respond to negative reviews
Getting a negative review on one of your tours can be hurtful, but never succumb to retaliation. Maybe they really were a nightmare client, but telling them that in the review will only turn away potential clients. In fact, a study found that “88% of consumers are likely to use a business if they can see the business owner responds to all reviews, whether positive or negative.”
So, skip the brutal honesty and go straight to making amends.
Read the negative review carefully
Take your time to fully understand the customer’s complaint before responding. Sometimes our emotions and assumptions take over and we’re not thinking clearly. When you can objectively interpret the review and what the underlying problem was during the guided tour, you’ll be able to address their concerns more effectively.
Be polite and professional
Even if the review is negative and makes you say all the different four-letter swear words, don’t get defensive, angry, or confrontational. Make sure to maintain a professional tone throughout your response. You know that saying, “grin and bear it”? Always be respectful and courteous, even when someone says something negative about your guiding company or guides.
Try to remember your client is sharing their experience from their own personal lens. Try to look at their feedback as valuable for your future guiding operations and training. Because hopefully, as long as you’re open to it, you can probably learn something from the review.
Acknowledge your client’s concerns
People who leave reviews, especially negative reviews, want to be heard and acknowledged. Had they felt understood during their guided trip with you, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to leave negative feedback for all the world to see.
First, start by thanking them for their feedback and expressing your concern about their experience.
Next, tell them you understand their issues. Show you’re listening to them and you’re taking their concerns seriously.
Apologize for the negative experience
Even if you don’t think you’re at fault, apologize for your customer’s negative experience. Truly own what happened. This shows you’re willing to take responsibility for your (or your guide’s) mistakes, your value their business, and that you’re committed to making things right.
Offer to resolve the issue
Don’t just say you “understand.” Offer a specific solution to your customer’s complaint. This could mean giving them a refund, a discount, or a different kind of offer to make things right in their eyes. Be sure to offer a solution that is reasonable and achievable for you, not just the client.
Ask for feedback
Sure, they just gave you some negative feedback, but if you took the steps to rectify the mishap and they were happy with that, ask your client to leave a new review.
This shows you’re committed to providing excellent customer service, you’re a person of their word, and you’re confident customers will have a positive experience in the future. You could even go one step further by telling them you’d like to hear from them again in the future.
When to respond to negative reviews
The older the review is, the worse your company looks. It gives the feeling that you don’t care about making your clients happy.
If a traveler is researching your tour guiding business for their next adventure and see a negative review (even positive reviews) without an acknowledgment, they may assume you lack good customer service.
Respond to reviews as soon as possible, even if you can’t resolve the issue right away. This shows you’re taking their feedback seriously and that you’re willing to work with your client to address the issue.
If your customer felt dissatisfied enough to post a review of your business, you should take it as a priority to seriously respond to their negative feedback. Aim to respond within 24-48 hours from the time they post the review.
This also goes for positive feedback.
Routinely review reviews online where you collect feedback so you can respond timely and with sincerity. The quicker they hear from you, the more sincere your words will feel to them.
Why you should respond to negative reviews
Responding to a negative review is important because it shows you value your clients’ feedback, and it gives you an opportunity to address any issues they may have had.
It shows you’re willing to do better
When you respond to a negative review, it shows you don’t just care about hearing the good things about your guiding business. You’re also willing to hear how you, your guides, and your tour business can improve.
Gives you the chance to resolve the issue
It gives you an opportunity to resolve the issue and make your client happy. If a customer leaves a negative review, they likely had a bad experience and didn’t feel like it was resolved during the trip.
Responding to their feedback gives you a chance to make things right. You can apologize for the issue, offer a refund or a discount, or take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Responding to a negative review can actually improve your reputation
When you respond to negative reviews quickly and professionally, it shows potential customers that you’re a tour guiding business they can trust.
They’ll also see you’re willing to take the time to address customer concerns and fix the issue. It proves that while you’re not perfect, you care about your client’s experience and you take pride in your business.
It can help you get more positive reviews
When you respond to negative reviews in a positive and helpful way, it may encourage other customers to leave positive reviews. They’ll see you’re a business that’s willing to do what it takes to make sure their customers are happy.
Want to take a guess at the tour guiding company’s response to the negative review?
The guiding company addressed all of her complaints and then followed up with, “Your case will be used for guide training as this particular scenario was definitely a first and hopefully the last.”
We’re all humans.
We all make mistakes.
Most clients will understand that and most folks reading these negative reviews (and your thoughtful responses) will too.