Expert Advice: How to handle complaints & poor reviews

Business mentor Katie Godfrey looks at how to turn an unhappy customer into your most loyal client.

Katie GodfreyComplaints are never nice to receive. It can really knock your confidence and get your back up. But you also need to look at it in a positive way. If you didn't receive these complaints, then you would never know what to improve on. 

We all get a handful of clients that love a good moan, but behind every complaint there will be something you can improve on to make your work better, even if its tiny. So how is best to handle your complaints?

#1. Always respond as soon as possible

When we are busy doing clients all day, it is very easy to think “I will reply to that later” or let it get your back up and think they can wait for a reply. Then, later never comes as life just gets busy. 

You want to make sure you reply as soon as possible. Always thank your client for their review/feedback, apologise and respond by how you are going to fix the issue. Make sure your response is very friendly and coming from a place of care. Don't get defensive, it won't do you any favours. 

#2. The client is always right

This isn't always correct at all, but we need to make them feel like they right are whilst also educating them. The client is right in how they felt their experience or treatment was carried out. Use this an opportunity to turn the complaint around.

For example, a client emails to say they had lashes done two weeks ago. They have hardly any lashes left, and their natural lashes are falling out. They aren't happy that they paid £80 for this to happen. That is a complaint but also lack of education. The aftercare needed to be explained in more depth including the process of the lash cycle. Your client would then understand that this in normal. 

I would advise you to respond to this, apologising that they aren't happy, educate them on the process and offer to pop back for an infill. It's totally up to you as the business owner if you want to do this for free, at a discount or full price. 

Always reply to a poor review; I would first call or email the client to try and resolve it.
#3. Make sure you share with the team
If you have a team, it's always important to share back to them the reviews and feedback. 

Some business owners avoid this as they don't want to hurt the team member's feelings or knock their confidence. I completely understand this, and you should always have your team's backs in a complaint, but you should always share with them what is happening and ways they can improve. We can only excel in our careers by learning and that's through feedback. 

#4. Responding to a bad online review

Nowadays there are so many more ways for clients to leave a review through sources like Facebook and Google. We all have those heart dropping moments when a 1-star review pings up. 

Again, I would always reply to these so other potential clients can see your customer service shining through and see that whatever experience the other client had, it is now sorted satisfactorily. 

If a review like this pings up, I would first call or email the client to try and resolve it. Then you can write back on the open review: “Thank you so much for your review, I am glad we have now sorted this out.” 

If you can't get hold on them, you can reply to the open review by saying: “I am so sorry to hear this, we want to sort this asap but can't get through to you. Please could you give me a call.”

Anyone looking at the reviews can see how professional you are. Often, in my experience, if you do resolve a complaint with a client, they will take the review down which is a bonus! 

Good customer service is key when handling complaints. You can easily turn that bad review into a loyal happy customer if it is dealt with correctly. Someone who's not happy is likely to tell five other people about their experience. A client that is happy is likely not to tell many people at all. We need to make sure we capture and support the unhappy clients.

Katie Godfrey is a Business Mentor, beauty salon owner, CEO of KG Professional, offering ABT-Accredited courses across the UK, and hosts the podcast channel The Life Of KG.