Online customer reviews can be a powerful form of marketing and PR. Prospective clients of your beauty, health, or wellness business are likely to at least skim some reviews and ratings on sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook. And consumers generally consider user reviews to be highly trustworthy.
This is why you should be consistently proactive about getting positive reviews from your existing customer base. It’s also why you have to keep an eye out for bad reviews, negative comments, and other potentially harmful feedback posted online.
To do so, regularly monitor your salon, studio, or spa’s business pages on social media sites, user review sites, and online business directories that publish ratings or reviews. Also, set up Google Alerts for your name and your business name.
Negative reviews are pretty much inevitable if you’re in business for a while, no matter how hard you work to prevent them. Every entrepreneur is human, and can have a bad day or make a mistake. Sometimes, things beyond our control go wrong. Sometimes, clients have unrealistic expectations or become offended for an unforeseeable reason.
Regardless of why you receive a poor review, look at it as an opportunity. By using the following tips for addressing negative reviews from clients, you can handle them in such a way that repairs some relationships and that reflects well on you as someone who takes your reputation seriously and who’s committed to providing the highest level of customer service.
Handling Bad Reviews of Your Beauty, Health, or Wellness Biz
- Remain calm. It’s natural to get defensive and upset when you see negative commentary about you or your business—especially if you feel strongly that it’s undeserved—but allowing emotions to steer you won’t serve you well.
- Give yourself some time between reading unfavorable comments and responding. Take some deep breaths, distract yourself with something else for a while, or whatever… just make sure you have an opportunity to cool off and return more objectively.
- Re-read the complaints with that objectivity, and do your best to see things from the client’s perspective.
- In most cases, you should respond, and respond publicly. It’s important that other people can hear from you and see that you want to make things right.
- Acknowledge first thing in your response that the client is upset, and whether or not you believe it’s justified, apologize that they were let down by their experience with you.
- Remember, if someone feels unhappy, disrespected, or offended, then they are—whether or not you think they have good reasons. There’s no way forward to a positive resolution if you don’t accept this. You might not always want to find a good resolution though, and that’s OK. But this is still a public matter affecting your brand, so take it seriously, be respectful, and conduct yourself professionally.
- Ask for specific details about what went wrong if the review is just comprised of vague ranting. Don’t be afraid to bring the details out, as it’s the only way you can successfully address them. And sometimes, people can’t give specifics, and their complaint loses its weight with others who see it and recognize it as mostly just a negative attitude.
- Say you’re sorry for any mistakes you may have made, being as specific as possible. The upset party—and everyone else reading—will appreciate your willingness to take responsibility. On the other hand, people quickly lose respect for businesses and people who try to wriggle out of taking any responsibility when things don’t go well.
- If there were unusual circumstances or forces beyond your control during the encounter in question, offer your side of the story without being defensive. Only do so after you’ve made the acknowledgments and apologies mentioned above, though. Don’t present this as excuses, but it’s OK to offer an explanation of mitigating factors the client may not have been aware of. But these should be meaningful factors; don’t say something like “I was really tired.”
- If you do offer some sort of explanation, conclude by stating that you still understand this led to an unacceptable experience for the client, and that you’d appreciate the opportunity to make it right.
- Extend an offer to try again, with some incentive (a free appointment or product, a discount, etc.). Be respectful when you request a chance to address the situation.
- Thank the individual for giving you the opportunity to make things right and to improve your service in the future.
- Take the conversation private if it starts involving a lot of back-and-forth, or if the client is being emotional. If you successfully resolve the situation in private, leave a quick public comment to let others know.