How to Handle a Bad Review
Jun 18, 2019 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Everyone in the service industry knows the saying, “The customer is always right.” But get on the receiving end of an unbalanced review, and suddenly this age-old piece of wisdom can ring hollow. What do you do when a customer writes something about you or your trip that you believe simply isn’t true and certainly isn’t fair?

This post outlines the best way to respond to any bad reviews you receive, what to do next, and if it’s possible to remove reviews that you don’t like (spoiler: it isn’t).

Image showing mixture of positive and negative reviews displayed as speech bubbles on FishingBooker's search results page
Not every review is a good one.

Every captain’s taken that “guide’s worst nightmare” fishing at least once in their career. You literally went out of your way to get them to a good fishing spot on a bad day, the fish didn’t bite, the customer didn’t tip, and then they left a bad review. And even though you tried your hardest, and you maybe even ended the day out of pocket, it’s your listing’s star rating that suffered.

How you handle that review speaks a lot for your service, and can make or break your future online business.

How to Respond to a Bad Review

Once you receive a review, it’s there to stay. It’s not possible to take it down just because it has a low star rating. But don’t panic. Most successful captains on FishingBooker have received reviews like this before. And having them on the listing, with a clear and reasonable response, can actually work wonders for customer trust.

After analyzing hundreds of reviews, we’ve come up with some straight-forward steps to handle customers’ objections and weather the storm. You’ll be surprised to see how simple it is!

Of course, not every problem is as easy to address as this one. But the golden rules of responding to a review still apply. Read on to find out how to adapt this structure to any situation!

Identify Their Concerns – and Address Each One Directly

Many customers see past the review itself and look directly at the reply. So what you say really counts.

Break their review down into sections and structure your reply around each of the points they raise. This will help you stay on track and will also explain the situation to anyone looking at your listing, on your own terms.

Did the customer want to fish a different area to the place you took them? Was their catch rate lower than what they expected? Did your boat have engine troubles? Acknowledge their complaint and explain what happened. Perhaps this isn’t the season for the fish they wanted to catch, or the conditions were too dangerous to go offshore. Maybe your engine broke unexpectedly and you’re getting it fixed tomorrow (and will take them out again for a reduced price). Let your customers hear your point of view.

As well as leveling out the negative feedback, this will also help set expectations for your future clients. No one can expect to catch a trophy every day, and your customers need to be able to understand this.

Say What You Did to Make Their Day Better

Once you’ve replied to the customer’s concerns, remind them of what you did despite the circumstances. Maybe you caught fish, just not the fish they were expecting. Perhaps you took them an additional 20 miles out, at no extra cost. Or maybe you stayed out longer, or even advised the customer to reschedule their trip for a day with a better weather forecast.

These are all important parts of your service that your future customers should be aware of. Proving that you will go the extra mile on a bad day can even increase your listing’s attractiveness for future clients, regardless of the low star rating this particular customer gave you.

Be Polite and Thank Them for Their Review

It’s hard to keep a lid on your emotions when a customer didn’t like your trip. But no matter how annoyed you are, it’s always a good idea to start by thanking your customer for their feedback, and to close with a good word. Nothing gives a clearer picture of your attitude toward customer service than how you respond in stressful situations like this.

However rude your customer was to you on the day or in the review, never insult them in your review reply. This looks like you’re not open to feedback and can even legitimize the customer’s concerns – when your intention is completely the opposite!

Even if they lost every fish you hooked them up on and then blamed you for the low catch rate, explain what the problem was without insulting them. Focus on the fishing experience itself, rather than any other details about the customer’s personality.

Upload Photos of Your Guest’s Catch

Being handy with a camera is a sure fire way to make your trip more memorable. Most casual anglers treasure the photos of their catch as much as their memories of the fish itself. This means there are few better ways to show you’re customer-centric.

Photos of the catch are also very valuable if your customer’s concerned about the catch rate. If you receive a low star rating because they caught a Tuna while they were hoping for a Marlin, share the results of the day in your review reply! Anyone who’s fished before will understand that this was an unfair reason to give you a low star rating.

Invite Other Customers to Review You

A single bad review on your listing will affect how many people are likely to click on it and make a booking. But collect more reviews, and the negative one will drop below the rest. Invite your other customers to review your service to balance out your total score and give a more accurate representation of your business. Then get ready to accept more bookings and show your customers just how good of a service you provide!

Removing Bad Reviews

We don’t usually remove negative reviews. In fact, only having positive reviews can even make your listing look less legitimate online. Sometimes, customers leave a listing with the belief that it’s being falsely advertised, purely because all the reviews have five stars. This is why responding calmly to a bad review and inviting more balanced feedback from other customers can actually help your listing in the long run.

If you’ve received a review that threatens you or someone else, or contains information that’s simply not true, get in touch with our team. We can never guarantee we’ll be able to remove a review, as we strive to provide an impartial representation of your service. But, we may be able to step in if the customer is seriously out of line.

Don’t let a bad review ruin your season. As long as you believe in yourself and your service, are good to your customers, and respond to the reviews you receive, you will be able to boost your online reputation as a reputable guide – no matter what.

How do you handle bad reviews? Do you have a situation you’d like to share? Comment below!

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