Today it's easier than ever to learn information about local businesses and establishments: that restaurant has rude waiters, this coffee shop serves the best cappuccino in town, that boutique keeps strange hours.
Social media and the internet have increased the level to which we rely on peer reviews and the number available, whether we're booking a hotel, buying a dress, or finding a new salon. While this can make your personal life a breeze, it can create major headaches in your professional life.
There's a good chance that when something goes wrong a client is going to talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, or a review site. While you may never be able to completely avoid a bad review popping up somewhere, being proactive and professional will help you rise above the review and land a set of shining recommendations. Here's how to deal:
When you run across a bad review, remember to not let things get out of hand. Negative feedback stings and it's easy to let emotions get in the way. Remember to take a deep breath and handle the situation with poise. Let your emotions settle before you do anything else. Every stylist runs into a bad situation now and then, and for every bad review there are surely tons of positive, happy experiences you've provided to clients through the years. The unhappy ones are more likely to provide a review than the satisfied customers. Just because one is out there doesn't mean all of them are mad.
Contact Unhappy Customers
One of the worst things you can do is ignore a negative review. Some public review sites allow businesses to register and directly contact the unhappy reviewers. You might also be able to make a public reply, which, if handled correctly, can help you earn brownie points from those checking out reviews of your services. It shows you care, are willing to tackle an unpleasant situation and want to make it right.
So, how should you respond? First, DO NOT try to convince them their experience was anything other than what they report. Acknowledge that what happened happened and you're sorry for their experience. Some salons or stylists like to pull in a nod to their values and mission statement ("We strive to create a positive, relaxing salon experience..." etc.) to show that the experience is not part of the norm. Then, ask how you can fix the problem. Some might provide a free product or service or discount opportunities. Often times this can connect to their experience. If they felt their hair was damaged in a color treatment, for instance, consider offering a mask or treatment product like Joico K-PAK Revitaluxe Restorative Treatment.
If a client leaves a bad review for you on Loxa Beauty, reach out to us. We always offer stylists the chance to publicly respond to the reviews.
Opening the dialogue, though, is the best thing you can do. You should also thank the customer for the opportunity to get their feedback and learn how to fix future problems. All bad experiences can and should be learning opportunities.
Before you can successfully respond to a bad review, you need to know it exists! That's why it's important to monitor different platforms to make sure things don't slip through the cracks. Watch your Facebook page and Twitter account for messages. Do a Google search for your name and/or salon's name. Actively check Yelp!, Foursquare and other review sites (like Loxa Beauty!). You can also search your salon name on Twitter to find out if people are talking about you but not directly using your Twitter handle (@MySalonName). Or, set up a search on a management platform like Hootsuite that will show you a feed of a particular word or term. Check at least once or twice a week to make sure there's nothing that needs addressed.
Ask for Feedback
Basic customer service skills can help you rule out potential negative reviews before they make it online for all to see. How do you provide feedback opportunities for your customers? Do you talk to them at the end of their appointment about how things went? Provide them a comment card? Email them? Call them? When soliciting feedback, make sure to make it specific. A simple "How was it?" can warrant a "fine" from a customer even if they might have something else on their mind. Be sure to phrase questions in a manner that is tailored to their experience: "How was the experience when Jessica cut your hair today? How about when Melissa colored it?" Personalizing the questions opens opportunity to better dialogue and will hopefully address problems before they leave the salon. Follow-up calls a day or two after a visit are another great idea. By then the experience has settled and they've had time to reflect on any problems.
Reminding your best customers that public, positive reviews are always a boost to business can be another route to pursue. Slip in reminders in a non-pushy way, such as through a mention in a newsletter. Social media check-in sites like Foursquare and Yelp! provide clients the outlet of letting people know where they are/showing off the businesses and places they like while also offering opportunities to review a business. Consider providing incentives to those who check-in and write a review, like a percentage off a service or product. Just let clients who via email or other means that their check-ins and reviews are valuable. All you have to do is ask them to show you their check-in or review on their phone when at their next appointment.
There will always be problems and clients who are less than thrilled with their recent experience. It's just the nature of being in a service business. The good news, though, is that it's easy to prevent a problem from exploding. Be proactive. Be professional. Just keep calm, smile, and be the fantastic stylist you know you are!