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Rules to live by – tips for dealing with negative reviews

Online reviews are often the first port of call for prospective new clients. SELF/STYLED has teamed up with Salon Services to deliver advice on how to deal with dreaded negative reviews

Nearly nine in ten people (88%) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As a hair and beauty freelancer who relies on reviews as much as word of mouth, the last thing you want is for any customers to leave negative reviews.

Unfortunately the chances are that every now and then you’ll get a bad write up online – especially given that another study found 46% of people have used social media to complain about a business.

So whether it’s a one-star (or less!) Google review or an unkind visitor post on your Facebook page, try these top tips for limiting any potential damage.

Respond quickly – and politely

While seeing a bad review can make your heart sink, don’t be tempted to try and ignore it. Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews all allow you to respond to reviews, so tackle it head-on by asking whoever left the review to contact you so you can investigate their complaint further.

While seeing a bad review can make your heart sink, don’t be tempted to try and ignore it. Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews all allow you to respond to reviews so tackle it head on by asking whoever left the review to contact you so you can investigate their complaint further.

And while the temptation can be to tell your critic exactly what you think, it’s important to stay calm and professional.

Take the conversation offline

You don’t want other customers reading all the details of the conversation between you and your unhappy client. To avoid this, try and move the discussion offline as quickly as you can. Provide them with a phone number or email address so that you can talk with them directly.

Try leading the conversation with an opener along the lines of, “I am sorry to hear of your recent bad experience. I strive to offer the best possible service and it seems I fell short of your expectations on this occasion,” before asking them to contact you directly.

Explain any misunderstandings

Clients often complain when they feel they were overcharged for a basic service – without realising that they had actually opted for a more expensive service. For example, if they thought gel nails were the same price as a straightforward manicure or they are unaware of the differences between the various colour options you may offer.

Always try to clarify and agree upfront where possible. But in these cases, explain again in your response but do so in a friendly way. Sometimes it might be worth offering to refund a client the difference as a one-off gesture of goodwill.

Own up and rectify mistakes

No business is above reproach. If you did slip up then the best thing to do is to own up to it. Denying it is just likely to make the unsatisfied customer leave more bad reviews which could really damage your business.

Whether it’s offering them a free beauty and hair service or simply giving them their money back, the cost of doing so could still be less than the amount of lost business caused by a bad review.

Watch out for online trolls

Sadly, some people get their kicks from riling up business owners, leaving bad reviews for services they have never used. If you think you’ve been trolled, you can contact the administrators of the review service to have these reviews deleted.

Some disgruntled clients will also encourage their friends and family to leave bad reviews of the business, even if they have never personally used them. These types of reviews breach the community guidelines of most review sites so you can also have them removed.

Use negative reviews to help your business

Not all negative reviews are bad for business. Instead, they might flag up an issue that you weren’t aware of. Treat each review – good and bad – as an opportunity to review your treatments and services.