Has a stylist, barber or therapist who works for your salon or barbershop received a negative online review from an unhappy customer? Did you think the bad write-up could threaten your reputation and turn potential clients away?

Unfortunately, this will sound oh-so familiar to many hair and beauty business owners who are regularly having to deal with negative client reviews appearing online after customers leave a salon or barbershop feeling dissatisfied with the service they have received.

Although we are having to handle negative online write ups increasingly often, it’s important to remember how influential each and every review is. Whether it’s a good or bad write up, they commonly appear on websites and on social media platforms for all to see, and are extremely powerful in determining a salon or barbershop’s success.

According to research, 54% of UK adults read content on both websites and social media platforms before making a consumer decision, indicating that negative online reviews of a business will lead some prospective clients to go to a competitor.

While you may feel that some online reviews are fair, if an online write up is defamatory or libellous, you can take legal action to have it removed. The law is complex in this area however, so before rushing in and taking any action yourself, please do call our free advice line to get the legal advice you need.

However, if you aren’t a member and would like to gain immediate access to our 24/7 expert legal advice, then you can join the NHF today.

Because taking legal action should be your last resort, we suggest there are five actions you should initially take to resolve the situation and hopefully achieve the best outcome.

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1. Change a client’s negative view of your salon or barbershop

The quickest way to make a bad review of your hair or beauty business disappear from the internet is for your client to take it down. And the best way to do this is to bring them “onside” so they feel positive about your salon or barbershop.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Send a personal email to your client. 
  • Ensure you send the email – don’t leave it to your stylist, barber or therapist to do for you.
  • Don’t get into a conversation on public platforms like Facebook or Twitter where others will be able to see your discussion.
  • Keep the conversation neutral and avoid making accusations, however angry you may feel about what the client has said.

You can phrase your message by saying:

“Sorry to hear about your experience, we would really like to speak to you to learn more about what happened so we can try resolving the problem. Please can you contact me?”

If, nothing progresses once contact has been made, you can then look to proceed legally. However, the legal route should be avoided if at all possible and always take legal advice yourself first (NHF Members are urged to call our free legal advice line).

2. Encourage the client back into your hair or beauty business

Ideally tempt the client back into your salon or barbershop and wow them with a top-notch experience from a high-level stylist to ensure they receive the VIP treatment. Hopefully this will change their opinion of your business and secure future visits.

If you need any hints and practical tips on how to improve your client experience for when the client does come back into your business, NHF Members can download our free guide to delivering an outstanding client experience

Waving them off with a small gift voucher will further encourage a future visit. If the above fails, offer a full refund as an incentive to remove the review.

3. Encourage your clients to post positive reviews

Stylists, barbers and therapists often build strong relationships with their clients who will have only positive things to say about your business and the service they receive. Encourage your happy clients to post an online review so that prospective customers will have a full picture of the type of experience your hair or beauty business will offer.

Even if there are one or two slightly negative reviews, you will still generate positive review ‘traffic’ sending out positive messages about your salon or barbershop. Don’t forget to ask people, if they do review you, to rate the salon or barbershop too.

The mechanics that work behind most review sites are more likely to identify and highlight reviews that have given the business a star rating or mark out of 10 (or however the site does it) and therefore these will normally appear higher on the page search.

4. Online reviews of your salon or barbershop from friends or family

Although you should encourage genuine clients and friends who have visited your salon or barbershop to post, (hopefully positive) reviews, be cautious of those that tip into becoming too obviously placed or corporate. And however tempting it may be, never fall into the trap of paying people to write positive reviews – it’s a disaster waiting to happen!

5. Keep calm and handle any negative reviews efficiently

The online review world moves fast and today’s negative review will quickly be outdated. But if you feel a review is genuinely damaging or defamatory, you need to act quickly.

This is because you only have a limited “window” in which to come forward to ask for a review to be removed. If an article is defamatory, the deadline is a year, although if it is deemed to be highly defamatory, this can in specific circumstances, be extended to two years…so don’t hang around!

If your salon or barbershop business continues to receive negative online reviews and you suspect that the cause is your staff not being up to scratch, then NHF Members can view our free guide for information on how to tackle the poor performance of stylists, barbers or therapists.

The CMA website was used for the consumer decision research within this blog: (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/competition-and-markets-authority)