Building my business

Surviving a bad online review

Fleur Murphy May / 09 / 2017

It’s that sinking feeling every salon owner can relate to – you’ve spotted a negative review about your business online. You could have the toughest skin in the business – but it still doesn’t change the fact that getting caught off-guard this way hurts!

And while it may be your first instinct to exit out of the screen and forget about it – do not make this mistake. The best way to diffuse the situation and protect your reputation is to be prepared and act quickly when it happens. Here are the key steps to surviving a bad online review.

Have a plan

The most common mistake of all is not having a plan for dealing with negative feedback. The rising popularity of reviews sites means that more likely than not, this is something you will have to deal with. Be prepared with a strategy, including who in your business is permitted to respond and what steps they should take. Improvising in this situation is dangerous, especially when ego and emotions can cloud judgement.

Act quickly

The key to managing your online reputation is to know what’s being said about you and act on it fast. Whether on purpose or simply because you didn’t know it was there, not responding to a blistering review of your business makes it look like you don’t care about your clients. To avoid this, set up a Google Alert to immediately catch any mentions of your business online.

Respond with empathy

Remember that people reading client reviews and your response have no context by which to judge the situation, other than your client’s word versus yours. Getting into an argument about what really happened or dismissing their comments will not only destroy any chance of winning your unsatisfied client back, but it also makes you look uncaring to potential new clients. The reviewer may be in the wrong, but you can still apologize that they feel unsatisfied.

Take the conversation offline

Rather than getting into an argument online, reach out and offer to take the conversation offline with a phone call. Once you’ve spoken to the client and amended the situation, you’ll often find many people will go back and update their initial review.

Protect yourself moving forward

When we asked clients why they wrote negative reviews online, the main reason was a breakdown in communication. Often clients feel too intimidated to give honest feedback while they are in the salon with you. Using a tool like Shortcuts Spotlight that sends automated online surveys to clients after their appointments is the best way to open the lines of communication before it’s too late.


Fleur Murphy
Fleur Murphy is a strategic thinker and marketing expert with a passion for the hair and beauty industry. With her drive to build strong brands, Fleur has helped businesses across Australia achieve tangible results from their marketing activities. At Shortcuts, Fleur focuses on strategies to help salons, spas and clinics get the most out of their business technology.

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