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You talking to me? How personalised responses to customer reviews can make a difference

Justine Tremerie – Ugent


Online customer reviews are important for every hotel. But perhaps even more important is how a hotel responds to those reviews. Too many hotels still formulate standard replies, even though this does not benefit the hotel's reputation and rating. So make a difference and respond to customer reviews with personalised responses. How to do that and why it is so important are described below using the results from the study by Zhang et al. (2019).

Customers want hotels to take their online reviews (positive or negative) seriously and respond to them. They want to feel that the hotel genuinely cares about their opinion and values it. However, this becomes difficult if the hotel responds with a standard reply like 'I'm sorry to hear that you experienced those difficulties during your stay. Thank you for your honest feedback'. Especially if that customer also discovers that the hotel uses the same answer for other reviews. The customer does not feel directly addressed and has the feeling that he is just another number in the queue. Especially hotels with a lower number of stars (1-3) seem to use such standard answers. Unfortunately, this does not only leave a bad impression on the customer who published the review, but also on future customers who are looking for information about the hotel. Therefore, in this article, we would like to show how hotels can avoid such responses based on the results from the study by Zhang et al. (2019). According to the study, personalised responses are the solution to this.

But what are 'personalised' answers? A personalised response is unique and perfectly matches the customer's review. An important aspect here is topic-matching, i.e. you mention the subject of the review in your response. If a customer praises the service, also thank that customer for the good feedback of that service. The repetition of the subject makes the difference to a standard response. The customer feels addressed and appreciates the effort of the hotel. Consequently, this also has an effect on the rating of the hotel.


Moreover, the study by Zhang et al. has also shown that customers attach a great deal of importance to the topic of "service". This is where each hotel can make an even bigger difference, by investing extra time to formulate personalised responses for this topic. Furthermore, not only the customer who posted the review is satisfied with a personalised answer, also new customers get a good impression of the hotel. In other words, thanks to such answers, a hotel can also attract new customers.


As a hotel, avoid standard replies and try to respond as much as possible with personalised replies to customer reviews, especially for subjects like "service". Personalised responses can have a positive influence on the online rating and thus attract new customers. At Hotelspeaker & Idixit, we also attach great importance to appropriate responses to reviews, to the benefit of both customers and our customers. We therefore consider it important to follow closely the new findings of scientific research.


Justine Tremerie – Ugent


Source:

Zhanga, X., Qiaoa, S., Yang, Y. & Zhanga, Z. (2019). Exploring the impact of personalized management responses on tourists' satisfaction : A topic matching perspective. Tourism Management 76.



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