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Ken Magill

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How Not to Respond to Negative Reviews

5/20/14
 
By Ken Magill
 
For an example of how not to respond to negative online reviews, look no further than the Quality Inn in McHenry, MD, near Deep Creek Lake.
 
When researching hotels near Deep Creek Lake, I did what I always do: I read the reviews.
 
More specifically, I read the most negative reviews first.
 
Among the worst reviews for this particular Quality Inn was:
 
“The beds in the room were very hard. Also, even though it was a smoking floor in the hotel, the smell was bad. I've stayed in other hotels that have a smoking floor, and you would not realize that it was a smoking floor. Also, the WiFi connection was non-existent.”
 
Someone representing himself as the manager of that Quality Inn answered:
 
“Thank you for taking the time to complete our online survey regarding your recent stay at our hotel.
 
“On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize for failing to exceed your expectations. 
 
“Your satisfaction is important to us and we will be using the feedback you provided to make improvements to ensure we offer an exceptional experience for our guests in the future.
 
“I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can have another chance to provide you with a superior experience.”
 
Another bad review said:
 
“I have stayed at this chain before and was dissatisfied with this hotel. The parking lot was covered in snow and ice making it dangerous. The side door did not latch on its own leaving it open to anyone. The carpets throughout were dirty and the floors also. This could be a good place to stay but it needs renovated. I slept fine and my room was clean however it did not have a fridge or microwave.”
 
Management answered:
 
“Thank you for taking the time to complete our online survey regarding your recent stay at our hotel.
 
“On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize for failing to exceed your expectations. 
 
“Your satisfaction is important to us and we will be using the feedback you provided to make improvements to ensure we offer an exceptional experience for our guests in the future.
 
“I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can have another chance to provide you with a superior experience.”
 
Yet another bad review said:
 
“Horrible experience, worst hotel ever used. Hotel staff could care less about ice in the back.
 
“Suggestion: don’t use this hotel”
 
Management responded:
 
“Thank you for taking the time to complete our online survey…” and you can guess the rest.
 
This is worse than ignoring negative reviews altogether.
 
It’s reminiscent of the “I-thought-we-were-friends” scene in the 1975 movie The Stepford Wives.
 
“I hope that you will consider staying with us again…”
 
Lifts phone, robotically drops it on desk.
 
“I hope that you will consider staying with us again…”
 
Lifts phone, robotically drops it on desk.
 
“I hope that you will consider staying with us again…”
 
Lifts phone, robotically drops it on desk.
 
Safe to say if you stabbed this man, he wouldn’t bleed.
 
Responses to negative online reviews should, at the very least, sound like their authors would bleed if they were stabbed. 
 
Or they shouldn’t be posted at all.
 
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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

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