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Negative Feedback Gone Social

Regina M. Tucker January 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

It’s happened to many skin care professionals: You just finished performing a facial and thought it went great; the client purchased the suggested retail and even said she would be back in the coming weeks. Then, a few days later when you visited an online review site and saw a post that the client had written about her visit, you were surprised because it was not a favorable review. The rise of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and local review websites such as Yelp, have placed a new demand on professionals and business owners today.

Some businesses do a weekly check of popular online review and social media sites to see what clients are saying about them, and to see what kind of reputation they have in cyber space. Ask your staff to help develop a feedback response plan that is fair to both the client and the skin care professional. The plan should always be balanced, fair and well thought out. Be careful of offering discounts to appease clients; you don’t want to become the spa that everyone goes to and then complains about simply to receive a discount on their services. There are several different approaches that can be used when dealing with negative reviews. Following are pros and cons of three different strategies for feedback response.

Reaching out to a client who reports a negative spa experience online

Pros. Clients feel as if they are being heard, and that their feedback is valuable. Constructive feedback can provide useful insight for a business to make improvements in internal and external operations.

Cons. It can be time-consuming.If negative posts are related tospecific technicians, they might feel left out of the process if they are not included in the response process.

Ignoring negative posts

Pros. Those seemingly negative remarks may have been posted by an overzealous competitor.

Cons. Clients can feel ignored, and you can also lose the potential for growth by missing out on recurring themes among negative client feedback.

Handling posts on a case-by-case basis

Pros. Try to approach complaints with balance. For example, consider a certain spa that plays not-so-traditional spa music, because it has a very fun and witty approach to services. A first-time client once commented on how much she hated the music, but management decided not to address this commentary because it is part of the spa’s brand. However, when a negative post popped up on Yelp from a long-time client about the company cancellation policy, they were right on top of it.

Cons. This breeds a lack of consistency, and you might miss valuable feedback. Not responding to a post may make a client feel undervalued.

You cannot afford not to utilize social media as a professional business to balance client complaints; there are plenty of clients who absolutely love your services and spa. Enlist clients who have a positive and strong professional relationship with your business to post glowing commentaries on online review sites.

Stay on your toes

Client complaints can be valuable to a business. If you see a theme among them, you can use it to make improvements to your business and secure your standing in the marketplace. The Internet and online forums have made it easier than ever for clients to share their spa experiences with the public at large, so skin care professionals have to stay on their toes, come up with a response plan, share it with staff, and initiate it.

Regina M. Tucker is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist in Maryland and Washington, D.C. She enjoys researching, and providing professional commentaries on pertinent topics impacting today’s skin care professionals. Contact her at 202-471-0086, or via e-mail at