As a pub owner, you’ll constantly be striving to leave your guests grinning from ear-to-ear after every stay, rating you 5/5 each time. Things can go wrong on occasion though, but the important thing is to be prepared and know exactly what to do if something does unfortunately turn out slightly less than peachy.
The very last thing you want is for a customer to leave a less than favourable review about you, whether it be simply voiced or left online. You want all potential customers to give your guest house a fair chance, with any reviews they discover while carrying out their research looking as positive as possible.
So, what can you do to ensure fewer bad reviews hit the internet and end up circulating around the country like Chinese whispers?
Prevention is better than cure
It’s important to always strive to give every single guest – from toddlers to retirees – the best possible experience they can have at your pub. This means leaving no stone unturned and no egg unflipped, by simply doing everything in your power to ensure that all things are A-okay.
Of course there is a whole host of things to double and even triple check – the list is probably as long as your arm, but making sure everything is clean and well-presented is a good place to start. Be sure that all meals are cooked to the best of your ability and be attentive to your guests during their stay.
However, remember than anyone can find an issue if they look hard enough, so no matter how many nooks and crannies you’ve checked, you have to be prepared for the occasional complaint.
Stay one step ahead
It’s important to be on alert and realise when a customer may be intending to leave a bad review. During their stay, be wary of a customer coming to you with any kind of complaint – anything from the top of the wardrobe being dusty or the fact that the view from their room isn’t of South America. If you want to prevent a potentially bad review, then you have to know how to deal with their complaint and try to resolve the situation.
For example, if the guest does indeed feel that the view from their room doesn’t match up to what was promised, then you could arrange to move them to a different room. If they are having problems working the shower – everyone can only ever work their own shower, then you should be up but within a moment’s notice to show them how it’s done. If this is something that comes up time and time again, make sure you have someone show them when they enter their room and leave a friendly reference guide for them on the facilities.
Defusing the bomb
Once in a blue moon, a guest may have everything under the sun happen to them during a stay at your B&B. The mattress is too hard for their liking, the curtains let too much light in, the bath fills up too slowly etc. Even though this is rare, when this kind of situation happens, you have to know how to calm the customer down and get them back onside, at least as much as you can. Ideally, you want to deal with this as it’s happening, where reasonable, however on the odd occasion a guest may only raise these issues at the end of their stay.
In times such as these, there is still a chance to turn the situation around. Perhaps giving a discount off the bill, or something free is a good way of showing customers that you do really care about the quality of their stay, and that you want to fix any problems that may have arisen. If it’s a repeat customer, you may want to offer a discount on their next visit.
It’s also an idea to get into the habit of asking customers to fill in a feedback form upon departure. While some guests will be quite vocal with their complaints, others will be less forthcoming and will naturally want to wait until they get home to leave a review online. Asking them to give a little feedback when they sign out, which should be read straight away by you or your staff gives you the chance to nip it in the bud.
Be the complaints guru
But how do you ensure that guests come to you with any complaints that they might have? When any guests first arrive, on greeting them, be sure to establish yourself as their first port of call for any complaints or questions they have during their time at your pub.
To do this, you’ll also need to make yourself accessible and available as much as possible. It’s impossible to sit at reception night and day, but you could let guests know when you’re likely to be around, and which members of staff to contact in your absence.
You’ll also need to be pretty great at customer service. If you do unfortunately receive a complaint, be polite at all times – even if the customer isn’t – and be sure to listen and be sympathetic to their complaints.
The last thing you want complaining guests to do is to go online and leave a bad review on the likes of TripAdvisor. Try your best to sort everything out while they’re still on the premises, so it’s less likely that they’ll want to turn on the computer and rant online the second they step through their front door.
In an ideal world everything runs like a perfectly-oiled machine all the time, in the real world, however, a wheel might fall off the wagon sometimes. No need to panic! It’s important to be well-versed in the art of managing and knowing how to deal with complaints, in order to prevent bad reviews for your guest house.