It’s sad but true: No matter how hard you work to make people happy and satisfied with the services you provide in your mini salon suite, at some point you’re going to get a negative review. Most likely, you’ll hear about it secondhand. Studies have shown that only 1 in 25 unhappy clients will complain directly to a professional who displeased them. Whether you hear from someone directly, a customer leaves a negative review online, or someone starts spreading negative word-of-mouth to their friends and family, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with it.

What do you do? Well, there are a few tried-and-true strategies for dealing with negativity toward your services or your salon. We’ll walk you through them below, but the first thing you should do is be prepared, especially if you’re new to business ownership. Part of owning a business these days is monitoring the social media pages you’ve set up for your salon, but you won’t just find opinions there. That’s why it’s best to set up a Google Alert for your business or your name. If that seems a bit self-absorbed, don’t worry—it’s not! You can’t respond to complaints and reviews you don’t see.

Once you’ve set up your Google Alert, gird up your loins! It’s time to talk about how to deal with negativity in realistic, meaningful ways.

How to Approach the Response to Negative Reviews

Speaking of girding your loins, you have to know how to pick your battles. Some reviews won’t be worth a response because they’ll obviously be from people who have personal problems or who are looking to pick fights. We guarantee you’ll know these reviews when you see them, and the best thing to do when you recognize them is to leave them be. Laugh about them, cry about them, do what you gotta do, but don’t interact with them.

When you come across negative reviews that are genuine, however, the first thing to do is to take a deep breath. Your ability to keep your cool and act (rather than react) is crucial. Don’t go on the defensive or attack the credibility of the reviewer. Wait until you’re calm to respond, but you’ll need to respond… and quickly. You can’t just ignore negative reviews hoping they’ll go away or go unnoticed. The truth is, neither of those things will happen, because… 

Negative Reviews on Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. And not only is it staying, it’s extremely public.

As much as you might want to fire back at a negative review, social media is where you need to be your most professional. Don’t panic, and don’t get angry—at least not publicly so. If you’ve done the work of courting good reviews on social media from your regulars and your satisfied customers, the majority will be positive. Remember that one or two negative reviews won’t break you financially, but there’s something to be said for showing how you deal with customers who leave less than satisfied. It can be hard to keep your cool, but follow these steps every time and you’ll do just fine:

  • Apologize sincerely that the person left unhappy.
  • Get the conversation private. Ask them to message you directly, in private, to resolve the complaint.
  • Ask for a second chance. You can offer them a coupon, voucher, replacement product, or service, but do keep in mind that free stuff shouldn’t be your default response. Use it when appropriate, but remember that people will try to take advantage of you. It’s sad but true.

Review Sites and Negative Reviews

Yelp, Google Local, City Search… you’ve seen them before, and likely you’ve used them to see if that hip new restaurant or concert venue is living up to the hype. Review sites allow customers to see what people think of you, which can be good and bad. They’re powerful ways to attract or repel customers, so if you get a review on Google Local or Yelp, the two most frequented review sites, the best thing to do is issue a quick response before too many people can see it go unaddressed.

While you can control your personal and professional social media feeds to a point, it’s almost impossible to get negative reviews taken off of review sites. Unless it’s indisputably obvious that the reviewer has a personal vendetta against you, it’ll stay up once it goes up. Don’t panic: About a third of bad reviews on review sites can be turned positive if you respond to the customer and make him or her feel heard. You can deal with these negative reviews just as you would with the ones on your social feed: connect, ask for a second chance, and offer to make it worth their while.

Negative Word of Mouth

As we said above, a small percentage of unhappy clients will talk to you about it face-to-face. When it happens, try not to take it personally! That’s easier said than done, we know. It can be very hard to hear a negative comment that’s made to your face. And if you hear it through a third party, that can sometimes be even harder! You’ll want to defend yourself, we know, but it’s better to swallow your pride, gather all the facts, and respond exactly how you would online.

Taking Ownership of Negative Reviews When It’s Warranted

It’s hard to take criticism, and it’s even harder when the criticism is valid. Some negative reviews can be a scary reflection of yourself, your business, and your general practices. At those times, it’s important to take a long look in the mirror and decide if you truly like what you see. If you can understand the merits of what someone has said to you, respond with integrity. Acknowledge the issue and apologize. Be genuine and sincere. Most people who have had a disappointing experience at a salon just want to feel heard and be taken seriously. When you get negative feedback, use it as a teachable moment and find a solution that pleases both you and the customer, and follow up with him or her after. As we stated last month, every one of your clients can be said to be worth $1,500 in annual revenue, so making things right will be worth your time.

Make an Impact on Every Salon Client

As the owner (or future owner!) of a mini salon suite in Lawton, every aspect of your business should deliver that extra special touch that can’t be achieved through big corporate experiences. That holds true whether it’s during the service or afterward, when you’re hearing feedback. Keep that in mind when dealing with negative reviews, and you can’t go wrong!

Salons de Beauté is a place for Lawton, Oklahoma salon owners to make their clients feel special and offer a unique experience. Contact us today to hear about our reasonably priced opportunities to lease your own mini salon suite in Lawton!