Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Review or Feedback

(0:57) I recently had an exchange with a marina concerning boater reviews. I suggested that maybe it is better to think of a review as feedback rather than a critique. It got me thinking.

(0:51) It may sound like simple semantics but often a subtle shift in your thought process can make a big difference. Changing the way you think about boater reviews can make the experience better.

(0:44) The Merriam Webster Dictionary defined "review" as "a critical evaluation." While it defines "feedback" as "the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source."

(0:37) The key words to me are "critical" vs "evaluative or corrective," I especially like "corrective." The former, "evaluative", having a more negative connotation.

(0:28) I don't wish to downplay the importance of reviews for boaters. In fact, I believe that the term "review" is very accurate from a boater's perspective. Boaters are looking for the positive and negative aspect of your marina to determine whether or not they will become your customer. Positive reviews are critical for your success.

(0:18) However, a marina approaching a boater review as feedback moves the experience from one of judgment - good or bad, positive or negative - to one of action. How will you improve based on the boater feedback?

(0:11) For the moment, forget about how many stars you've received. Instead, focus on the boater's comments, looking for what you are doing well and where you can improve. Use the feedback to become better.

(0:04) Do this well and you will see more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Responding to a Negative Review

(0:54) Criticism is tough whether it is directed at you personally or at your business. A common reaction is to rigorously defend yourself publicly, explaining why the reviewer is wrong. This is rarely a good idea. With tens of thousands of boater reviews in ActiveCaptain we have worked with numerous marinas to help them learn from and respond to negative boater reviews.

(0:45) Whether you decide to respond publicly or privately to a negative review you should always remain upbeat and positive. A good response will have the following components in order:

(0:40) 1. A thank you. Start out by thanking the boater for taking the time to comment on their experience. Any boater feedback, bad or good, is an opportunity for you to improve your business.

(0:35) 2. List the positives. Few reviews are all negative, most will mention some positive aspects of the experience as well. Mention that you are pleased they enjoyed aspects of their stay. This is particularly important if you decide to respond publicly as you will want to ensure that others note these points. But it is also important in a private communication as you want to remind the boater what was positive about their experience.

(0:26) 3. An apology. Sincerely apologize that their experience was less than perfect. Even if you feel the review was unfair or inaccurate. Remember, your apology is about what they feel they experienced.

(0:21) 4. Statement of your actions. Tell them what you have done to remedy the issue, if possible, so that future experiences will be better. If, for example, the review complains about a poor docking experience or lacking facilities, explain what you are doing to make things better.

(0:13) 5. Reach out. Give them a way to communicate with you directly to resolve their issues by providing them with a phone number or email address to contact you. By doing this you can avoid an ongoing public debate and make them feel that you truly care about them.

(0:06) By properly handling a negative review you can readily turn it into a positive for you and your business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

After the Storms

(1:02) The US was hit by two devastating hurricanes. Events of this magnitude lead to much uncertainty and concern on the part of boaters beginning their winter migration. Immediately, we began receiving communications from boaters wanting to know the state of the waterway, marinas, and anchorages to the south.

(0:53) It reminded me of the increased importance of communicating with the boating community following a major event of this nature. There are few things that are worse for a business than uncertainty on the part of their customers. In the face of uncertainty many boaters will become paralyzed and not move.

(0:45) That is why it is imperative that every marina and boatyard impacted, even tangentially, by a major weather event must come out quickly to inform boaters about the state of their facility and the waters nearby. What was the impact to you and the surrounding waterway? Which services are available and which are not? If there was no impact, make sure you let boaters know that as well. Silence only feeds uncertainty.

(0:35) This is a time to use every available outlet to get the message out. ActiveCaptain Partners can use their Pro-Op message to update boaters about your status and to keep them updated as repairs are made. (0:31) ActiveCaptain offers the networks, apps, and infrastructure to capture the changes to the waterways. We have a team at Garmin in place, ready to handle new data that arrives. We'll combine community updates with information received from marinas and boatyards about their conditions. All of this will be kept together within the normal ActiveCaptain database.

(0:20) We're adding new hurricane related data as new hazard markers. The name should begin with the storm name. For example, an inlet damaged by Irma will be a hazard named, "IRMA: Inlet Damaged." If a marina was heavily damaged in Texas, name it, "HARVEY: Marina Damaged." Describe the changes in the hazard. We'll adjust the position and fix up the text. Your job is to collect the information and create the new marker.

(0:05) I am available to answer your questions. We can work together to come back stronger.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When a Negative Reviews Happens

(1:15) You work hard to maintain your facility, train employees, add amenities, and offer first rate service. Then a customer complains to the world with a negative review. Now what? Handle it properly and you can turn it into a positive. Follow these steps:

(1:06) 1. Take a deep breath. It's easy to feel defensive, even angry, when your reputation is challenged. Resist the impulse to threaten the review site or attack the reviewer. It will only create bad will, waste time, and have a negative result in the long run. If the review was incorrectly written about your marina, contact the review site. Any reputable site will fix that.

(0:55) 2. Gather information. Critically examine the review for truth. Discover what you can about the interaction to determine what went wrong and where you can improve. Negative reviews are valuable learning tools even though it can be difficult to see when it happens.

(0:47) 3. Decide if and how to respond. Communicate with the boater. The ActiveCaptain site offers private messaging. Most customers welcome the opportunity to discuss their problem and admire a marina who is willing to work towards improvement. These interactions often lead to the customer changing their original rating.

(0:35) 4. Apologize. Write a sincere apology regardless of where the blame lies. This should be done even if you feel the review is unjustified. Let the boater know you're sorry their experience was unfavorable. But don't make an empty apology. If possible, try to make it right.

(0:25) 5. Wait for the community to respond. If you have done your work upfront there will be other positive reviews listed. If not, have faith in your happy customers. It is often the case that a negative review will prompt a marina's satisfied customers to chime in to defend the marina. This is far more powerful than any action you can take.

(0:13) 6. Don't fret. A good, honest, well-run marina will not be outdone by a single negative review. Focus on what you do well and learn as much as possible from what customers have to say to make the facility better.

(0:05) No person or business likes to hear negative feedback. But a negative review can help you improve your business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.