“Not a normal human being” (How NOT to respond to negative reviews)

Watching a business owner meltdown over a negative review is one of those unique phenomena that can make you cringe, laugh and feel embarrassed all at once. In our blog series – “How NOT to respond to negative reviews” – we’ll take a look at some poor responses and breakdown what to do/what not to do with bad reviews. That way, your business never shows up on here. 😉

This ugly interaction between an unsatisfied traveler and hotel owner has more than its fair share of problems.

Problem 1: The response is rushed. Everything about this response, from the tone it takes to the numerous typos, suggests the owner didn’t take the time to think about an effective response. It reflects poor professionalism to anyone reading the review. (Now, this might have been intentional because the owner wanted to be nasty, and we’ll get to why that’s not a good move next).

Give yourself a moment, then respond. Yes, time is of the essence when your business’ reputation is on the line. Calm down, think of a response that reflects the values you want others to see in your business, and proofread it.

Problem 2: The owner gets hostile.  “There must be something wrong with you.” Yikes. The owner makes public what should have just stayed in his head. The reviewer is clearly being irrational complaining about the hotel not having a bathroom for his/her dog, yet the owner manages to make him/herself seem just as irrational with the response.

Take the high road (even though it’s hard). Again, this discussion is public, so calm down. It will only look good to prospective customers that you can handle a negative review with grace. You might dislike the reviewer and don’t want to say sorry because you weren’t wrong, but you can express regret for the bad experience. That way, you’re also showing empathy and not being fake about it because you do regret that someone wrote a 1 star.

Problem 3: The finger pointing. The rest of the owner’s response mostly consists of accusations (not to mention the impossible claim of having zero complaints in 18 years). This shows immaturity and can exacerbate the issue, potentially leading to a back and forth argument.

Respond with the facts, politely. In this case, the owner should have highlighted the hotel’s commitment to quality and outlined the policies in a matter-of-fact fashion. This approach works in defending the reputation of the hotel, without coming off patronizing or defensive. Any other discussion of what may have happened during the reviewer’s stay is subjective and should be out of the public eye.

It’s fair to assume this hotel owner lost the business of this reviewer and potentially anyone who came across the response. If you run into a similar situation, try to remember these tips or use this handy infographic to figure out the best way to respond to a negative review.