Tackling online salon complaints (8-step guide)

Social media is brilliant when your clients are singing your hair or beauty salon’s praises. But what about online complaints on your salon social – how should you deal with these?


How to bounce back from salon complaints

Negative comments or a poor online review can often feel like a personal attack. The last thing you need is an aggrieved client bellyaching online in front of your clients, potential clients and your local competitors.

But burying your head in the sand won’t help – you must deal with it. Because for a salon business, where trust is everything, negative whinges on social and disgruntled Google reviews can damage your reputation, potentially impacting client trust and loyalty. It can mean the difference between a busy salon and an empty one.

91% of consumers between the ages of 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

(Source: BrightLocal survey)


The salon owner’s guide to dealing with complaints

Responding to negative reviews can be tricky, but it’s important to not ignore them. Use my marketing checklist to handle salon complaints successfully and effectively:


#1. Set up a salon system for complaints

It’s crucial you stay calm and don’t lose your cool. Being confident you have a salon system in place to respond to online complaints is half the battle.

Why not pin this checklist on your office wall or pop it on your phone? It’ll act as a useful prompt when you need to act fast.


#2. Who responds to complaints?

Be clear as to who is responsible for monitoring your salon social media. From a revenue/profit point of view a stylist or therapist (who could easily be busy with a client for an hour and earning good money) is probably not the best person for the job.

If you’re not personally taking on the role of responding you need to make it clear who is. You want to avoid arguments later about who should have replied to a complaint or poor review.


#3. Reply to complaints immediately

Speed is everything here if you want to preserve your salon reputation. Social media users expect a swift answer to their grievance. If left, complaints will fester and escalate in no time.

A recent survey revealed 42% of people expect a response within 60 minutes of making an online complaint.

So speak with the team member who did the service as soon as you can to get their thoughts and version of events.


#4. Check out their social profiles

I think it’s always worth checking the complainer’s social profiles (where they are public) before replying. It may help you approach their problem from a different viewpoint.


#5. Start with an online apology

Start by thanking them for their feedback as this shows you’re keen to improve your salon business and customer experience, and want to resolve their problem.

Then give a public online apology as it often defuses the situation. Apologising that they ‘feel this way’ isn’t the same as admitting blame or accepting that they are right.

But it does make you look more open and honest to the dozens of people who may be following this public spat online. No matter how angry you feel, it’s key to stay polite, calm and pleasant throughout the exchange.

“Thank you for your feedback which we very much appreciate. I apologise that you feel our service did not match your expectations and understand it must be very frustrating for you. I would very much like to understand the situation better.”


#6. Take salon complaints offline

Having responded online with an apology, now get the conversation offline and away from public scrutiny. Quickly.

With your apology ask for an email address or phone number – unless they are a salon client in which case they’ll expect you to have their contact details.


#7. Turning negatives into positives

Once the conversation is offline, deal with the problem as you would usually do in salon.

If workmanship/technical skills are being criticised, then invite them back into the salon so you can ‘see the problem’. I also like to offer them a Zoom (or similar) video call as an alternative because they may not want to traipse back into town to see you, especially if they are busy.

  • Listen carefully and ask questions so you understand their grievance.
  • Offer a practical (speedy) solution.
  • Include a couple of options so they feel more in control. We all like choices.
  • Include an extra ‘free something’ if the situation warrants it.
  • Finish by thanking them for their helpful salon feedback – regardless of how rude they were.
  • Follow up a few days later to check they are happy and show you will go the extra mile for them.


#8. Never be tempted to hit delete

No matter how busy you are or how trite the complaint appears, never delete the social media post before you have apologised and taken the matter offline.

Why? Because the person will feel you’re not listening. You don’t care. Unless you’re careful the situation will then escalate online in the public domain. Which is exactly the opposite of what you want.


Online salon complaints: your roadmap to success

Dealing with online complaints and poor reviews can seem intimidating, but rather than seeing them as setbacks, view them as opportunities for improvement: Understand the issue, rectify it, and win back your client.

A member of my Salon Social Club recently asked my advice on dealing with a longstanding client who had written a very upsetting and aggressive one star Google review.

After following the steps above and redoing her colour, the client was so impressed by the salon’s professionalism, that she updated her review from one to four stars.

It’s worth noting Google allows reviewers to change their review at any time so once you’ve resolved the moan it’s worth asking your client to consider upgrading their star rating and comments.


#Bonus Tip:

Make sure to encourage your delighted clients to leave reviews, especially on Google and Facebook. A simple request at the end of their appointment can do wonders for your online reputation.

With the right attitude and approach, you can turn negative reviews into positive change and growth for your salon business.

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