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How to Respond to Bad Hair Salon Reviews

Every hair salon owner or manager should learn the art of responding graciously to a less-than-satisfied customer.

As a hair salon owner, you need to manage your online reputation. And learning the fine art of responding to bad reviews is as much a part of the job as keeping up on the latest cut and color trends.

About half of customers use online reviews to make a final decision when choosing a salon, current market research from Phorest shows. In fact, the survey found that 72 percent of prospective clients search Google for a new hair salon, and they will no doubt pore over Google reviews. Others browse Yelp and social media. These prospective customers will be looking at if—and how—you respond to negative reviews.

Hair salons have to be especially vigilant, as hair is such a personal and emotional topic. Clients who have had bad experiences at salons may be very upset, and may post images with their words. For example, one client at a Michigan salon posted a photo of frizzy purple hair, labeled “the awful texture of my hair.” She posted about how, after being dyed, her hair began falling out in clumps and breaking. “I am horrified every time I am brushing my hair or washing it,” she wrote, noting that her hair “had the texture of artificial doll hair and felt completely dead.” Prospective clients looking for a salon will likely spot that review first.

But a graceful response could have helped to repair the damage. “As an American professional beauty business, it’s never been more important to nurture your online presence,” says Verna Wall, a Phorest lead researcher.

Start today by considering these tips for responding professionally and kindly to bad hair salon reviews:

Always respond to bad reviews

As a salon owner, you most likely identify personally with your business, and a critical review can sting. You may be tempted to ignore such a review, commenting to friends or stylists, “They’re not worth my time.” But keep in mind that you’re responding less for the reviewer’s benefit than for the benefit of all those prospective clients scanning the reviews. You want them to see that you take your business seriously, that you’re professional and that you want to make things right when  there’s a problem.

Apologize sincerely

Even if you feel the customer is in the wrong, a sincere apology goes a long way toward demonstrating your class and professionalism, if you can muster one. If you’re feeling snarky, you might want to wait a day or two to respond so that you can do so with a calm attitude and a clear head. Depending on the tone, a written apology can sound sincere or sarcastic, and there’s a fine line.

Offer details when it makes sense

A customer may write a negative review criticizing your salon for a specific issue. For example, one client of an Atlanta salon complained on Yelp that prices had gone up by 45 percent from one visit to the next. “They said the owner reviewed local prices and just decided that it was justified. Don’t you think previous customers, who had been paying the original price should have been notified? I don’t plan on going back,” she wrote. The salon owner missed an opportunity to kindly respond, apologize and offer details that would justify the price increase.

Take responsibility without making excuses

Everyone makes a mistake now and then, and potential clients know that everyone’s human. They’ll be looking at whether you own up to your mistakes gracefully instead of getting defensive or criticizing the reviewer for pointing out your error. For example, one client left a negative review of a Michigan salon, complaining that the salon owner made her wait an hour due to a time mixup. The owner responded with an odd excuse, stating “Prior to making this appointment, I was in Texas.” She then went on to say that “most seem to be understanding to my situation.” These types of responses can backfire, making a bad impression on potential clients. A better and more gracious response could have been short and sweet: “I am so sorry for the situation you experienced. Due to a technology glitch, I unfortunately made a scheduling error that day. I assure you this isn’t the norm at our salon, and I’d  love to make it up to you. I’ll contact you privately to discuss this further.”

Offer to make it right

While you won’t always be able to fix a problem—for example, the client who complains that her stylist cut off all her hair—you should make it known that you’re always willing to try. Here’s a great example of such a response to a client who complained that her stylist failed to give her the long bob she wanted, stating “My haircut looks really awkward from the back as there is no angle and it rather looks like a step.” The salon owner apologized sincerely and stated: “Our goal is for each client to love their hair after their visit. We do offer complimentary adjustments to haircuts within a 7 day period from the date of service.” They then went on to mention their “many talented stylists,” as presumably the client wouldn’t want to go back to the same one. Letting potential clients know you are willing to make things right is always good business.

Like styling hair, the art of responding to a bad review takes finesse. Keep putting your best self forward whenever responding to reviews, and you’ll make a great impression on those who read your tactful and sincere responses.