It’s easy to feel like your success is being held hostage by a few naysayers who write a negative review. This can be frustrating and terrifying at the same time. It might seem as if this dilemma is out of your hands and there is nothing you can do to remedy the situation. Despite feeling somewhat exposed and self-conscious, there are many ways you can use this experience as a learning tool, while demonstrating professionalism and developing a positive reputation for your haunted attraction.
Listen & RespondIf the customer has a bad experience, figure out the details by responding to the review. Join the conversation and take a genuine interest in what the displeased customer is saying. Whether positive or negative, responding to reviews in a professional way will show your current and potential customers that you are invested in their opinion and that you will actually listen to them.
Nicole Grodesky from ThunderActive outlines the dos and don’ts of writing a private message to an unhappy customer:
- Take the old fashioned approach that the customer is always right.
- Introduce yourself, thank them for the feedback, and apologize for their bad experience. Acknowledge their concerns and promise to address the issues they mentioned.
- Avoid making up excuses or sounding defensive or condescending.
- Invite them to come back and give your business a second chance.
- Be careful of offering them a discount to get them back in the door. This could encourage others to fake bad reviews in order to get a discount.
- Be careful of offering them a discount to make up for the bad experience. You wouldn’t want your reviewer to misinterpret the offer as a bribe; risking another bad review. Depending on the business and situation, you could offer to fix the problem. An example would be a bad car repair or computer repair review.
Although it’s tough to listen to others harshly criticize your work, having a reputation as a good listener is never a bad thing. It is important, however, that you respond accordingly and clear up any misunderstandings as soon as possible. Being a good listener does not mean being passive, but it will allow you to clearly understand the situation and enable you to be proactive.
Pick Their BrainTry to view this as an opportunity to get an honest opinion on what you can improve in your haunted attraction. There’s a silver lining hidden in some bad reviews in that it is often hard to find a completely unbiased and blunt opinion. Your friends and family (the nice ones anyway) will be the first to tell you, “Everything is perfect!” And although this is a nice self-esteem booster, it’s not necessarily helpful feedback. You can save yourself a lot of heartache if you use this time to gain insight into the aspects of your attraction that can be made better, instead of taking the review personally.
Don’t Be A Drama QueenAs a fellow creator, I sometimes feel that if one, tiny aspect of my work is suffering, the whole thing needs to be ditched, and I need start over. This dramatic process is usually unnecessary and well… a bit dramatic! I’m not saying that it’s easy to forget one negative comment in a sea of praises. Our brains are hardwired to focus on negative experiences, so much so that researchers have given a name to this phenomenon: the negativity bias.
When you feel yourself experiencing the “negativity bias”, remember the people that screamed and had fun. Acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, but also understand that despite this fact, you’re allowed to feel satisfaction from positive reviews too.
Contact The Review SiteIf you notice that the review is from a jealous or crabby competitor, it might be worth your time to contact the review site. The goal of these sites, such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Insider Pages, is to generate honest discussion and allow customers to provide constructive feedback. So, if someone is writing a review out of spite, instead of writing for the purpose of voicing his or her opinion, the review site will most likely take the nasty review down. However, if the review is from a non-competitor third party, it’s likely the review site will keep the comment live since it wasn’t posted for the purpose of sabotage.
Promote The PositiveAnother way to diffuse negative reviews is to encourage positive ones! Send a quick email to your long-time, loyal customers and ask them for a few sentences about a positive experience they had at your attraction. You can make their job easier and achieve results that will benefit your reputation by prompting them with suggestions like: What was your favorite part about our haunt? What makes our haunt special? Would you recommend our haunt to your friends? If so, why? Again, making this task as simple as possible for your customers will serve you well. If people know it will only take them two to five minutes to help out a haunt that has provided them with great experiences year after year, they will be much more inclined to help you out.
Take ActionThe worst thing you can do when dealing with negative reviews is to ignore them completely. That’s not to say you should mentally carry those words around with you everywhere you go. It is to say, however, that you should most certainly respond in some way. Whether it’s responding directly to the review posted on the review site, writing a private message, or even a hand-written letter, you must take some action. Avoiding the harsh words and hoping they will magically disappear will only make it seem as though you have no regard for your customers’ needs and will paint an unprofessional image of your haunted attraction.
Find a balance in taking action and detaching yourself from reviews that are less than ideal. Although hearing that your haunted attraction didn’t live up to one person’s expectations can often times feel like you’re being stabbed in the back, fear not, because not all hope is lost. If you take those words as motivation to improve, there will likely be a positive review waiting just around the corner.