How to Handle a Bad Online ReviewBurying your head in the sand because you believe people only post negative reviews on online review sites isn’t much better than ignoring it completely. It’s also wrong, because despite all our fears, most people aren’t actually all that negative. On Yelp! 80% of reviews are three-stars or higher, with 38% giving a five-star rating.  But that still leaves the dreaded 20% of reviews that are less than stellar. And while we’d like to think it couldn’t happen to us, it happens to the best of businesses.  

So, what do we do when we fail to catch a bad experience before it makes the web? There is only one option – handle it with dignity and integrity and always respond swiftly:

· Respond as quickly as possible. The longer a negative comment sits there, the higher the likelihood that someone else will see the review go unanswered.

· Always thank the reviewer for her feedback and assure her you are taking it seriously. This isn’t personal, it’s business.

· State any policies that apply, such as color consultations or pricing that should be considered and would help elaborate on the full situation.

· Avoid sounding defensive. Sometimes it’s hard to read your own language, so ask someone else to proof-read for you.

· If measures need to be taken to correct the issue at hand, state them in the review. For example, if the client said it was too cold in the salon, respond by saying it’s been set at a steady 72 degrees to ensure everyone is comfortable.

· Take it offline, if possible, and ask for a conversation with the reviewer. Be professional and ask questions that show you care. You should still be concerned if someone had a bad experience even if they aren’t 100% correct.  

· If it makes sense, refund the money and/or offer to bring the client back into the salon for a complimentary service.

Remember that one bad review won’t topple your whole reputation, but on the flip-side it also takes a long time to build a thriving community of raving fans. Dedicate the time and effort.
Your objective here isn’t limited to public damage control. Often, the negative clients can be converted to the biggest advocates you have, if handled correctly. Sometimes not, but each of these issues should be attacked head-on with the intent to convert these naysayers into raving fans.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.