I Hate It: How to Respond to a Bad Review

This is a photo of respond to a bad reviewYour customer is mad and heads online to let everyone know, can you (should you) respond to a bad review in a positive way? You work hard to create a great guest experience at your winery and criticism may hurt, but how you respond to a bad review matters and it can impact your future.

It was thought a customer who left your business unhappy would tell 10 people about it. Now, with all of social media to spread the story, millions might hear of your mistakes. In a 2015 marketing poll, 77% of people said they read online reviews before visiting. Almost 90% of people online value a review as highly as a friend’s recommendation. If positive reviews mean so much to your business, how can you lessen the impact of a bad review?

6 simple steps to respond to a bad review in a positive way:

  1. Listen: People want to be heard. Read their version of the story with a keen eye and an open mind. Take a deep breath and don’t get defensive.
  2. Give it some thought: Look for a kernel of truth in what is said, there may be something you can change or improve on. Do you have a game plan for how to handle difficult guests or situations?
  3. Acknowledge their experience: The reviewer showed up with a large group, hours late for their tasting reservation. Your small tasting room was full and they couldn’t be accommodated. You understand, they wanted to try your wines and were disappointed to be turned away.
  4. Apologize: Even if it wasn’t your fault, apologize. Make it warm, genuine and personal. If you care about your wine business, you really are sorry they had a negative experience.
  5. Offer your assistance: Reply with your name, offer a way to contact you, then take it offline and communicate privately. You want the world to see the positive way you handled the situation, but further talk should be private.
  6. Invite them back: Ask their group to come back to your winery on another day. Offer a tour, private tasting, or an introduction to the winemaker.

Be thankful for the feedback, it’s your opportunity to improve. Consumers overwhelmingly use star reviews to select where they are going to spend their dollars. A decline in even one star will hurt your business, making it more difficult to attract new winery visitors and turn them into lovers of your wines. Tracking your winery’s online reputation and responding in a positive way is an important part of building your business. With the right response, you may  turn an unhappy guest into an advocate for your wines.

Wang, C. (2015) Squashing Negative Reviews
Markedan, L (2015) How to deal with bad reviews of your business online
Harper, E. (2014) How to Handle Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

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