Replying to Negative Online Reviews


So, you’ve finally gotten your first (and hopefully your last) negative review online. Many sites like Yelp allow you to respond to them. How you respond is completely up to you.
You have two choices here:

  • you can attempt to rectify the situation and save face for others who may see the review (and earn some new clients in the process), or
  • you can flip a bitch and make yourself look like a complete idiot.

Regardless of whether the client was right or wrong, it is your job to show others that you care and you are willing to do whatever is necessary (within reason) to make this client happy.

1.) Apologize. The very first thing you need to write is,

“My name is ___ and I am the owner of this establishment. I am so sorry that you had such a negative experience and I would love the opportunity to make it up to you.”

2.) Show gratitude. Let the client know that you appreciate that they took the time to write the review.

“I am truly apologetic that we did not meet your expectations during this visit, but I do greatly appreciate that you took the time to write a review. As a small business owner, reviews like yours are so helpful to me, so thank you for communicating to us where we are falling short so that we can rectify the problems immediately!”

3.) Make an offer. Offer the client something for her inconvenience. She may not take up the offer, but at least make an effort. If she had a terrible massage, offer to give her 50% off with your most experienced therapist. If she didn’t like the color job, offer to have it corrected for free by your most senior colorist.

“If you would be willing to give us another chance, I would love for you to enjoy _____ for _____!”

4.) Let it be known that you addressed the problem with your staff. Make it clear that you have taken action to correct the problem.

“After reading about your experience, I held a meeting with my staff members and addressed the problems you have communicated in your review.”

If the problem was caused by a communication issue (a rude employee, for example), say that the staff are now going to be more conscientious in their communications with each other and with guests. If it had to do with a bad service, inform the reviewer that you are now going to be requiring all staff members to undergo weekly continuing education and monthly technical evaluations. (Seriously, you should be doing that anyways.)

5.) Promise it will NEVER happen again…and mean it. This is where you take the feedback you were given and you learn from it.

Adapt your business to ensure that nobody ever has a reason to leave a similar negative review in the future.

“I want you to know I am taking proactive steps to ensure that this issue doesn’t arise in the future. I am doing this by ___. I promise you that nobody will ever experience this problem again.”

6.) Apologize, thank the reviewer, and invite them back again. Yeah, really.

“Again, I want you to know how sorry I am. I do appreciate your feedback and hope that you’ll give us another chance to earn back your business.”


I have seen responses to reviews that were downright nasty and unprofessional.

“This woman is obnoxious and rude. We’re all glad that you’re leaving the salon. We pity the next hairdresser whose chair you sit in.”

“This client fails to mention in her review that she ALWAYS tries to haggle the staff for lower prices when she comes, even though the price is clearly communicated to her prior to the start of her service.”

“This review is completely bogus. This never happened. Whoever this is is lying.”

Negative reviews give you the opportunity to showcase your customer service skills.
Don’t burn it by being petty.

A classy, professional, understanding response may impress potential clients, negating the poor review entirely.

Common Negative Review Topics

1.) Pricing is too high: A good way to respond to this is to showcase the benefits that set your business apart. (This is assuming that your prices are higher because your services/products justify them.) If you offer monthly specials, mention this as well. Some people just can’t afford to (or don’t want to) pay higher prices. You shouldn’t renegotiate your pricing unless it is affecting your business on a massive scale.

If a client or two complains about the price, that’s fine. What you need to look out for are complaints about the service they’re receiving.

2.) Rude staff: Tell the reviewer that you have reprimanded the employee responsible. In addition, make it clear that you’ve held a meeting to ensure that all staff members know how seriously you take customer service. Ensure that the client will not have the same experience again should they return.

3.) Bad services: Make a commitment to help your staff continuously improve. Continuing education doesn’t have to cost tons of money. Have each of them teach a one or two hour class on something every week. Set up a rotation for it. They can pick the topic. Evaluate potential new hires before signing them on to work for you. Do regular evaluations of your existing staff members also.

4.) Business is unclean: There is NO excuse for you to have a filthy, disorganized salon. If you and your staff are too busy to keep it up, hire someone to do so. Seriously, you have no excuse.

5.) Miscommunication: Clarify the miscommunication in the review. Sometimes, miscommunications are honest mistakes. If an employee said something in error, apologize and explain the reason why the employee may have been confused. Never blame the reviewer.

Whatever you do, keep your cool. You want your response to be classy, upbeat, apologetic, and humble.

Your goal is to have others that read your response think, “what a great way for them to handle that situation!”

You do not want potential clients to see you rage out on a client online. Show them how well you treat unhappy customers and how quickly and professionally you respond to their criticisms. Keep it together and not only will you salvage the relationship with the reviewer, but you will gain the respect and admiration of the potential clients who read the review response as well.

If you don’t already have policies at your salon, consider implementing them. The Policy Creation & Enforcement Pack can help keep the common misunderstandings that cause negative reviews from occurring in the first place. Check out all of the useful downloadable products in The Store by clicking here!

Previous articleImproperly Classified: What To Do When You’ve Been Misclassified as an Independent Contractor
Next articleHow to Fire a Bad Client
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


  1. How would you recommend to respond to a ‘troll’ review? For example a person who has never visited your salon and gives a fake review, or a disgruntled customer who makes up a story because you didn’t give a discount on your prices? I’m asking as I see this regularly on other salons Facebook pages and I’m terrified it will happen to me!

    • Personally, I point out that we don’t have the person in our records at all and that nobody in the salon has any recollection of their visit. I also ask, “Are you certain it was our salon you visited?” Sometimes, people legitimately do leave bad reviews on the wrong pages, especially if the salon has a super common name (for example, “Polished,” “[Town Name] Hair Salon,” etc.). Cast doubt on the legitimacy of the review. Ask for specifics about their visit–when did they come in, who did they see, what services did they have done? A troll reviewer usually won’t bother to reply–because they can’t. A real person who left a bad review on the wrong salon’s social page will often retract it, especially if you can link them to the other business (or businesses) with the same or similar name that they’re likely looking for.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here