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February 17, 2020
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Reflecting on Reviews

With the ever changing dynamics of social media and on line exposure of businesses, the Review has become a key player in determining your business success. Reviews are those unwanted (at times) or very welcome comments and feedback from customers. How are you approaching your reviews? How often do you look at them. How do you respond to them?

Do you WELCOME or RESIST looking at reviews. Either way, one cannot ignore them. They can become an important part of your business improvement. To help your business improve they are an important guide to refining the quality of your offering. Your guests often see and experience things you may not have observed. To help you get the most from your Reviews here are a number of thoughts to consider:

EQUITY

In Reviews, the Positive Reviews reflect the perceived value guests will see in your business.

REVIEWS are a key part of business equity. For example if you read reviews on a restaurant that had a lot of negative reviews, your perceived value of that business will decline and you will most likely not go there. This is no different with caravan parks. The more positive reviews you have the less the negative reviews will have an impact on what decisions future customers will make. So the goal is maximising positive reviews. This is why it’s important to invite guests to write a review when they compliment or thank you. Build your EQUITY!

REFLECTIONS

Reviews need to be taken seriously, as they can make or break a business. This is more and more the case as guests become more critical and savvy on line and do their homework! Here are some simple stops to consider when you look at reviews.

READ

Take the time once a day or once a week to read all your reviews. Check WikiCamps, Google Review, Full Range Camping, Trip Advisor or any other source you may get feedback from. Be especially aware of what people are writing on your social media, such as Facebook.

REFLECT

Never respond immediately! Take the time to consider all the feedback. Reflect on it. Make notes of the positives and negatives. We love the positives - these are great points of affirmation for all the hard work you do. The negatives are not so good (sometimes). Take the time to think through the comments and try and understand the perspective, the context and what actually happened. As you know these reviews will often only reflect one side of the story. This time is important for you to put it into context. I say it again - do NOT react immediately. In fact if possible sleep on it!

RECONSIDER

As I have said already - ‘Never respond immediately!’ In the case of negative reviews we want to fight back, defend ourselves, put them in their place, or whatever. Remember, your reaction will be seen (if in the reviews), by all the guests looking at your park moving forward. The reviewer has moved on and will most likely not look at your response. It’s always a good idea to reconsider what you have read the next day or at another time. Avoid just scanning the review but try to really understand the message or underlying message, so you are fully informed and prepared to respond.

Sometimes you may see good ’negative’ reviews, if they help you improve your business. If they are malicious and one sided, it will most likely be as a result of a negative interaction the guest has had with the park, and a way of the guest to ‘get back at the park’! Often other guests will sense this and not take the comments too seriously. This is especially the case when it becomes personal!

RESPOND

There are 3 ways one can respond and this depends on the type of review you have received. Not responding may be an option, however, I believe there are ways in which it can help your business. No response, may be an admission of ‘guilt’.

1. Positive Review: 

Is there something we can take from the positive reviews. What in the positive reviews really hit a positive note. This is an opportunity to reinforce that response to ensure you get more of them. For example if you have great feedback on assistance with reversing - don’t decide to stop offering that service. Maintain that service! I do not suggest you respond to every positive response, but the odd comment of thanks is appropriate. Something like:

“Many thanks for your feedback. We are pleased you enjoyed your stay and look forward to welcoming you back in the future ”

2. ‘Good’ Negative Review:

These are the reviews you use to your advantage. Guests love it when you take a ‘good negative review' positively. That sounds contradictory. Let me explain. If you have had one or 2 guests complain about the cleanliness of the camp kitchen for example, it is natural to jump to your own defence, however if you are getting this feedback, it may be an opportunity to  show your commitment to your guests.  

If you get these reviews consider carefully what is happening. Are you checking that it’s done daily? How bad is the situation? Go and have a look. Change procedures to ensure these are cleaned as well as the amenities every day. Monitor how your cleaner is doing their work. Don’t take their word for it - check it out and ensure they have they have the processes, tools and accountability to fix it.

A response to the review could be something like this… 

“Thank you for your feedback regarding our camp kitchen. We are committed to cleanliness and will review our cleaning procedures and frequency of cleaning and ensure a more regular inspection to ensure we maintain the standards you expect!”

This will send a very positive message to your current customers and future guests, demonstrating a commitment to maintain standards, and the fact that you have taken the ‘negative review’ in a positive way. Guests like it when you take these things seriously!

3. ‘Malicious’ Negative Reviews.

These are the tough ones. Especially if there is an overtly negative response to what is obviously dishonest and malicious. This is where one needs to be very careful in your response. Some simple tips

  1. Do not respond when angry - you do not want to start a bun fight!
  2. Do not respond till the next day - gives you time to think and consider carefully
  3. Do not loose sleep over it - consider the number of guests you have in your park every year. So you have 1 or 2 really bad ones in 1000 others. Is it worth loosing sleep over 1-2% of them?
  4. Consider what went wrong. Focus back on the issue. For example, the guest made lots of noise after 10.00pm and was asked to quiet down
  5. Never get personal. Do not talk about how they have behaved or what their partner did.
  6. If you respond - keep it short, sweet, to the point, and focus on your park rules
  7. The Review is only one side of the story - do not create a tit for tat, accusing the guest of what they did. This can become nasty!
  8. Take the higher ground - do not get into the trenches with the reviewer. You take the fight out of someone when you refuse to fight!

REINFORCE

So what do you do?

Go back to the key issue and focus on that.  For example a response could be:

"Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry that you did not enjoy your stay. In the interests of our guests, our policy is no noise after 10.00pm. We are committed to enforcing this rule to ensure all guests enjoy their stay and have a good nights sleep”.

Cant argue with that. This will refocus on the issue and demonstrate to others that you work to make their lives more comfortable. Nearly all guests will respond by ‘Good on you!'. Key here is not to attack the individual as it just becomes more mud to deal with in the reviews.

REFOCUS

Never forget about your EQUITY.  You have SO MANY good responses. Remember that people reading the reviews  will see the character of the park and wonder what was wrong with the customer with the negative review. That is why you need to reinforce what others are saying about your park rather than fighting back. The positives outgun the negatives.

DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! You will NEVER please everyone!

I hope this has provided some useful thoughts on how you relect and respond to reviews. I would love to get your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to drop me an email or give me a call if I can be of assistance!

Kind regards

 

Bert van Spronsen, Founder, Managing Director Kui Parks & Fellow Traveller

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