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How To Respond To Negative Reviews: Salon Marketing Basics

Why Bad Salon Reviews Don’t Have to be … Well, Bad.

Hrachuhi Arakelyan

Jan 31, 2020 · 6 min read

bad salon review

So, you’ve opened your salon, business is booming and you’re getting a regular stream of happy customers. You and your team have worked blood, sweat and tears (too many) to deliver outstanding customer service each and every time.

But then, the inevitable happens.


You get your first bad review.

😱 What to do?

Firstly, breathe. Have a cup of coffee. Or a gin.* Under no circumstances jump online to reply immediately. *You may be angry. You may be upset. You may feel it is completely unwarranted. Maybe you clearly remember the customer and their appointment, and it’s a completely different recollection from the version of events you’ve just read.

It’s ok. It’s all going to be ok.

Just don’t start rage typing. We’re professionals. We’ve got this.


😅 Here’s what to do:

The first thing you need to do is to read the review when you’re feeling calm.

Take the time to carefully digest the reviewer’s complaint and understand if any of it was justified. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve thought we were happy with something at the time, and only on reflection have we realized that we really weren’t (when they promised not to cut your bangs too short, or that the bright red lipstick was ‘just perfect’ for you, but makes you look like The Joker in reality).
“But why didn’t they say something at the time?” you wail, inwardly. But the truth is that not everyone feels able to. Sometimes it takes time before someone decides that they are unhappy.
Try and read between the lines to understand if there’s a deeper issue not being directly addressed. While you might feel the reviewer is a monster, they are just human. Just like the rest of us. Try and empathize, even if you have to try really, really hard.

Try and get to the bottom of what happened.

Speak to the team member who saw them, to see if they recall anything that happened during their appointment. Was something said by the client that your team member may have glossed over? Was the client perhaps trying to tell them something that they may have missed? (Not everyone feels comfortable being direct). Did they appear happy when they left? Did your front desk team notice anything was amiss? Don’t try and play the blame game — it may have been an innocent mistake or simply a miscommunication. There are opportunities to learn here.

When you’ve dug as deeply as you can with your investigations, it’s time to reply to the negative review.

Don’t feel you can just ignore it and leave it sitting there, unacknowledged. It will fester. It’s time to put on your big girl pants and face it head-on. How can you turn the negative salon review into the positive? How to answer a negative salon review?
Be polite and courteous in your response. It’s so very easy for people to read tone into the written word that can come across in the wrong way. Kill them with kindness.


That doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with misrepresenting what happened, but politely and calmly demonstrate that you are open and listening and trying to resolve the situation. Don’t forget, it’s not just them that you are replying to, it’s the whole of the internet.
Be the good guy so that your salon potential customers see just how professional you are, even in bad situations. Research from Sproutsocial shows that when brands develop transparency in customer relationships, nearly 9 out of 10 people will give them a second chance after a bad experience, and 85% will stick with them during a crisis.
You’re building brand loyalty here, just in facing up to and dealing with this bad review. Doesn’t that feel better already?

Follow up

When you’ve replied online, it’s a nice gesture to follow up with a personal phone call or email to the client, if you have their details on file.
If they have given the review anonymously, invite them in your reply to contact you to discuss it in more detail.
Tell them the steps you have taken, and why it won’t ever happen again.

Use what you’ve learned as a training opportunity for the rest of your team.

Discuss how they would have handled it or have prevented it from happening.

Be realistic.

Some people are just a pain in the ass and would have complained regardless. It may even be a fake review left by a rival or someone holding a grudge. If none of your team have any knowledge of the alleged event even happening and your salon diary does not reflect the chain of events alleged, use your response to politely call that out, by asking them to contact you with their details, for you to be able to resolve the issue. If they don’t call and you’re all genuinely none the wiser, shrug it off and move on.

Consider limiting the risk of receiving any negative online reviews

А salon management software automatically follows up customer appointments with an opportunity for them to give feedback.

If it’s automated, you can then collate feedback, and publish it on your own website once you’ve had the opportunity to respond to and solve any issues. Research shows that collecting feedback directly via an automated process prevents people from posting elsewhere online, where you as a salon or spa have less control. Automating the process results in just 10% of reviews surfacing elsewhere, limiting any potential damage popping up elsewhere.

⛔ … And what not to do:

  1. Never ignore your salon client reviews — take the time to respond to each and every one, good and bad.

  2. Don’t get into an argument with the client. Your job is to make things better, not worse.

  3. When the customer who complained does return, be nice. Welcome them back with open arms.

  4. Don’t go around blaming people — either the client or your team — focus on solving the problem and learning from it.

  5. Finally, the golden rule — don’t delete or ignore the bad review — let it stand as a testament to how your business solves problems and demonstrate that you don’t shy away from the negative.

💣 In Summary:

Negative salon reviews are never nice to read or hear. But it’s naive to think that it won’t happen to you — it happens to every business at some point in time. It’s not about pointing the finger — it’s a learning opportunity for the things that you and your team can do better.

Although getting mad and arguing with the customer may feel justified, especially if you feel the negative comments were unwarranted, is never the way to go. You are not defending your team and your business by doing it — you’re only going to make things worse.

And don’t even contemplate deleting the negative review. Let it stand as a shining example of how professionally your business handles criticism and how you use criticism to make positive changes. Your salon loyal customers will admire you, your potential customers will feel that your business is credible and you may even regain that frustrated customer. And that is a really powerful thing.


Written by

Hrachuhi Arakelyan

Co-Founder/Customer Happiness Manager at RetentionForce