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Handling Complaints Effectively In Your Beauty Salon

While you can't avoid complaints from clients altogether, you can learn how to deal with them effectively. We'll help you successfully handle any objection that might come your way and create a satisfied clientele.

Nobody likes getting complaints from clients. Still, they are a frequent occurrence in the beauty industry, which is why you have to learn how to deal with them effectively.

In fact, you can look at them as a learning experience to make the services you provide even better. We’ll teach you how.

In this text, we bring you ten tips you can incorporate into your salon policy to build a better relationship with your clients, even after they come to you with their concerns. When you successfully resolve a complaint, you’ll see that you can get a loyal customer for life.

Make Sure the Complaint Is Genuine

Before you invest your time and energy in handling a complaint, you should first inspect whether it is genuine.

Good client relationships are sacred in beauty salons. After receiving a complaint, your first instinct may be to jump to finding the solution because you want to make your clients happy.

After all, considering that out of 26 unhappy customers, only 1 will complain at all, you want to take the complaints you do receive seriously.

Source: Zoyya

However, by acting with urgency, you may be getting ahead of yourself. Your first step should be to examine the authenticity of the complaint.

Receiving a complaint about, for instance, a beautician operating without their license is completely valid, and it shows an oversight on your part. However, complaints usually tend to be less severe, along the lines of gel nail polish wearing off too quickly.

When you receive such a complaint, before refunding the client, ask them to return to the salon so you can inspect the quality of the work for yourself. If the client turns out to have been washing the dishes constantly without gloves, the worn-out manicure is hardly your fault.

There will always be those clients who try to complain about tiny details in hopes of getting another free treatment.

So, as a salon manager, it’s your responsibility to determine whether a complaint is valid and avoid wasting your resources on unfounded ones.

Be Calm and Listen

Regardless of the nature of the complaint, a good salon manager will always calmly listen to what the client has to say.

The process of voicing a complaint is not easy for anybody involved. Expressing dissatisfaction with the service inevitably stirs up some negative emotions.

So, when a client gets upset, you have to keep your cool and stay professional. Even if you think they’re in the wrong, let them talk freely.

Keep in mind that, when clients raise their concerns, you should dedicate your time and attention only to them. It’s a good idea to step away from other clients and staff at that moment, to signal to the client that they have a safe space to speak.

At this point, it’s important to refrain from offering any explanations or excuses. Allow your clients to clearly state their complaints without interrupting them.

Such an attitude makes them feel heard, which was what they really wanted in the first place. To amplify that, once they are finished, do your best to summarize their concerns in your own words to show you’ve understood.

Here’s an overview of the steps you can take to acknowledge the client who has come forward with a complaint.

Source: Zoyya

Receiving complaints productively boils down to good listening skills. Treating your clients with respect creates a way for you to find the best solution together.

Find the Underlying Reason for the Complaint

When handling complaints in your salon, you should scratch below the surface and find the underlying reasons for your clients’ dissatisfaction instead. That will allow you to deal with the source of the problem, not its symptoms.

In a spa or a beauty salon, clients can focus too much on the details as they voice their complaints, when what really bothers them remains only implied.

For instance, a survey on customer complaints revealed that it isn’t the quality of service or products that primarily motivates customers to complain; it’s the way employees interact with them.

On the following graph, you can see the most frequent reasons for the customers’ complaints.

Source: Zoyya

These general reasons can be manifested in various specific forms.

For example, if you receive several complaints on lash extensions done by the same esthetician, the reason for your clients’ dissatisfaction may not be your salon as a whole, not even your lash extension service.

Instead, the clients may simply be unhappy with that one beautician’s practices.

Identifying the underlying reason helps you tackle the issue directly. Rather than handling each complaint individually, getting to the bottom of the problem enables you to prevent similar complaints in the future.

To do that, you’ll have to make sure what the situation on the ground is like.

To return to our example, the one with clients complaining about a particular esthetician’s work, what you should do is spend a day with them, see where the problem lies, and then provide specific guidelines on how they should improve their work.

That way, you’ll be preventing all future complaints from occurring in the first place.

Support Your Team

Although you’ve heard that the customer is always right a million times, sometimes the best way to resolve a problem is to stand behind your team instead of assuming that the cliche is true.

Having a manager’s support makes employees more confident, reducing the number of mistakes they make and consequently the number of complaints your salon receives.

That doesn’t automatically mean that you should ignore your employees’ oversights. Instead, hold them accountable for their work, but make sure you listen to their side of the story as well.

Did you know that adopting such an approach can also increase the workers’ job satisfaction? According to a Gallup survey, 59% of millennial employees whose managers hold them accountable for their performance want to keep working in their current positions.

Therefore, when handling salon complaints, it is important to get the whole story. Listen to the client, but also find out what the beautician who performed the problematic service has to say.

After all, they are the expert, not the client. Ask them which products, tools, and equipment they’ve used and for how long, so you can form an objective opinion.

If you show your team you trust them, they’ll feel comfortable coming forward even when they make a mistake. Your employees will know you have their back.

Not having to tiptoe around the clients will also make them more self-assured, and 98% of workers say they perform better when they feel confident.

Keep Records of Your Clients’ Complaints

The most efficient way to handle complaints is to draw on your previous experience with similar situations. You can do that by keeping a base of prior complaints, the content of the complaints, and the solutions you came up with.

The reasons many beauty salons are turning to booking apps are numerous: less time spent on administrative tasks, easy scheduling, tracking the most popular services, and sending automatic reminders.

But one of their less obvious, yet invaluable benefits of a well-designed booking app is that you can use it to deal with complaints more efficiently.

For instance, Zoyya lets you build a customer base where you can also enter your clients’ complaints and make a note of the steps you’ve taken to resolve them.

Since one of Zoyya’s features is creating business reports, you can also use that tool to see if there are any trends in complaints.

Source: Zoyya

Why would you go back to handling each complaint individually when you can track complaints and make informed decisions based on the data you’ve entered?

A good appointment booking app can transform the way you run the business; you just have to know how to use it. For instance, you can check out how the Kynsi beauty salon improved the customer experience with Zoyya here.

Try to Resolve the Issue Quickly

Sitting on a complaint instead of dealing with it can deter clients from returning to your business, which is why you should aim to resolve all the issues as they appear.

The Harvard Business Review has analyzed the data on customer complaints from five major airlines and found that those clients whose issues get resolved quickly become not only returning customers but also show a willingness to pay more for future services.

Source: Zoyya

While you’re not running an airline, you still want your customers to return to your salon even after they’ve voiced a complaint. Guided by the principle described by Harvard experts, you should act quickly when it comes to resolving complaints.

Responding to your clients’ complaints without delay shows them you care about them and their satisfaction. After all, they are essential to your business, and you should treat them that way.

Still, you won’t always be able to resolve an issue as soon as it comes up. Nevertheless, what you can and should do instantly is acknowledge it.

By letting the client know you’ve received their complaint, you’re making them feel seen, and letting them know they can rely on you to resolve the issue as soon as you are able to give them your undivided attention.

Do the Treatment Again Instead of Refunding

If you want to improve the relationship with an unhappy client and keep them coming back to your salon, you should always choose to redo a treatment instead of offering a refund.

This way, the client gets to see the improved results for themselves.

Offering to give the client their money back may be tempting because it displays your confidence in your abilities. Beauticians who offer refunds often operate under the impression they will never need them because every client will get the desired results.

However, in the beauty industry, not everything always goes according to plan.

Let’s say the client books an appointment and arrives as scheduled, only for you to realize their hairs are too light for an IPL hair treatment or nails too damaged for acrylics.

However, the client insists you do the treatment, and a week later, they call you complaining they aren’t satisfied with the results.

You are now faced with two choices of remedying the situation: refunding the client or redoing the treatment.

Source: Zoyya

If you refund the unhappy client, chances are they will never return. They will spend that money on getting the same treatment elsewhere while telling everyone about their negative experience with you.

However, if you offer to redo the treatment or suggest another, more suitable treatment with similar results, you get another chance to show the client what you can do.

By redoing the treatment, you also show your clients you only accept the best results from your staff—a client leaving your salon unhappy is not an option.

Respond to Online Complaints

Just as a client telling their friends about an unsatisfactory experience they had at your salon can damage your reputation, so can negative online reviews. Therefore, you should respond to them in a timely and effective manner, and let other clients see your professionalism.

Today’s customers have high standards and are careful about where to spend their money and time. Because of this, 76% of customers look up a company online before visiting the location.

In their research, they rely heavily on reviews.

Since there will always be some negative reviews, you have to know how to deal with them.

Below, you can see a great example of handling a complaint.

The business owner first thanked the client for the review and then proceeded to ask for details to find the source of the problem. The response also included an explanation of the salon’s manicure treatments.

Source: Google

The salon owner also didn’t try to shift the blame or prove to the client they were in the wrong.

Instead, they politely described the treatments they offer and asked for details on the client’s dissatisfaction with the service.

With such an approach, receiving online complaints is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they can be good for your business. Clients find 5-star ratings too good to be true, so they find salons with a few negative ratings more authentic.

In fact, eighty-five percent of consumers seek out negative reviews because they’re looking for transparency.

However, be careful not to enter any arguments with clients online. They are better dealt with in private.

Write a Complaints Procedure/Policy

No salon owner hopes they’ll have to enforce a complaints policy, but the need arises sooner or later. By preparing a clear policy, you’ll be ready to deal with any complaints that come your way effectively.

Your complaints policy should include the following information:

  • Who can make a complaint
  • A time frame for a complaint
  • How a complaint can be made
  • The complaints process

Requiring clients to follow the timeframe set in the policy puts a stop to awkward situations, such as when a client returns to your salon a month after waxing complaining that the treatment wasn’t done properly.

Some salons only allow clients to make complaints immediately after the treatment while the beautician who performed the treatment is present to fix the mistakes. You have to find an appropriate timeframe for complaints depending on the services you provide.

The complaints policy should also clearly describe the ways for the client to make a complaint.

Source: Zoyya

Be it verbally, via email, or a letter, your clients should know you take the complaints seriously and want to resolve them in an official manner.

Having a written complaints policy also helps your staff because it enables them to resolve an issue when the manager isn’t at the salon.

Use Complaints to Improve

Getting a complaint or two doesn’t have to be the end of your business. You can take the complaints as examples of the kinds of issues your salon has to iron out so it can continue providing even better service.

In a SalonSense interview, Kristi Valenzuela, a salon team building coach, always advises thanking clients for their opinions, even if they are negative. She states that every complaint is a learning opportunity and a possible chance for improving your salon.

Here is what she suggests you say to an unhappy client:

“Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. Your opinion and your thoughts of us are very important to the salon. We have a system for when clients are upset because our salon owner and our management always want to know what can make us better.”

Complaints also help you identify the training needs of your staff.

If you’re keeping records of your clients’ complaints, you’ll be able to detect areas for improvement.

You can go over them with your employees so they can get the complete picture of your salon, rather than focusing only on their expertise or station.

Remember, the customers’ needs change over time. Even if you provide exceptional services, you may still receive some complaints. Therefore, periodically going over clients’ complaints helps you gain insight into their needs and preferences.


You can’t change the fact that there will always be some clients who complain, but you can change how you approach the complaints.

If you welcome complaints with an open mind, you may even improve your business. The starting point is to acknowledge the client and listen to all valid complaints. When you diagnose a genuine reason for clients’ dissatisfaction, you can resolve the issue and get a loyal customer in doing so.

When handling client complaints, don’t forget about technology. You can use a digital solution to keep track of clients’ complaints. Remember to also deal with online complaints respectfully to show other clients you’re accountable for your work.

We hope our ten tips can help you make the complaint process a low-stress occurrence.

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