Hotels, restaurants, bars, concert venues, theme parks…technology now allows us to instantly look up the reviews of a place we’d like to visit.
There’s plenty of sites out there that allow online reviews (Google, Yelp etc), but for me the go-to ones are Tripadvisor (fun stuff) and Trustpilot (the lesser fun stuff).
Now, it’s great reading the 5/5 reviews on somewhere like TripAdvisor because these confirm that you should be visiting it...but being a researcher, I’m always intrigued in the 1/5 and 2/5 reviews too! After all, if the vast majority love the place, what’s going wrong with some of their customers that has led them to complain and take the shine away from the positive reviews?).
What they are complaining about can give you an idea of the nature and characteristic of the person – a dish may have had one less prawn in it than they expected, the queues for an amusement ride were over an hour long during the busiest time of the year, and so on.
Since you can also see other reviews they have submitted, at times you conclude that the person is a ‘serial complainer’, or possibly, just someone swayed by the previous great reviews, but subsequently underwhelmed / disappointed when they visited.
There are of course the stories of competitors (or their associates) submitting deliberate negative reviews to sully a business’s reputation…but that’s another story!
Owners and managers know that a few negative reviews will not result in the downfall of their business. However, whether these are from ‘serial complainers’ or people with a genuine grievance, it’s clear that more businesses are responding to them - what purpose does this serve?
- It shows they are transparent and care about their own business, in addition to treating each customer as an individual (I find that the ones who do this the best, respond to the positive reviews as well)
- There’s an acknowledgement of the complainer’s misgivings, and an effort made to provide some context to the situation
- It allows the business to begin a process of rectifying the grievance (particularly if this was not done so at the time – we have to acknowledge that some people are simply not happy or comfortable complaining face-to-face, or perhaps were unable to at the time)
- If applicable, it also allows the business the opportunity to correct the complainer, particularly if the person has been ‘selective’ about their side of the story (there are even instances where a complainer has threatened a business with a negative review unless they are given a free ticket, a free meal etc!).
And all of the above in full view of past, present and future customers.
So, the next time you and a friend are looking for somewhere to eat, and you look up a website for a review, take a few seconds to have a look at the negative ones as well. You may even find the person that was responsible for this: