Turn a Negative Into a Positive: How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

You take a lot of pride in the services your spa provides. You work hard to make sure each client has the best experience possible; it makes you feel good to know that you’re contributing to their happiness and sense of well-being. That’s why it can be so devastating when a negative online review suddenly pops up. 

To work so hard and then be rewarded with an emotional gut-punch is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Moreover, it’s enough to immediately put you on the defensive. The reputation of your spa (not to mention your hard work) is at stake! But before you set your keyboard on fire while writing a blistering response, take a step back. 

The way you respond to a negative online review has the power to turn the whole situation into a positive experience for both you and the client. Not only that, but your thoughtful response will be visible to other current and potential clients. It will show them that your spa is receptive to criticism and will do what it takes to make it right. That builds credibility and trust. 

Here are the steps you need to take to craft the perfect response to a negative online review. 

Step 1: Respond quickly

It’s important that you’re monitoring the sites where customers can leave reviews in order to handle any issues in a timely manner. Browse them at least once a week. if you see a negative review, don’t sit on it for a couple weeks. An immediate response shows your clients that you care about their experience — what they have to say is important.

Step 2: Thank the client

Thanking the client is literally the last thing you want to do right now, but thanking them for bringing the issue to your attention indicates that you are open to feedback and a constructive dialogue. It also indicates compassion for their situation and makes them feel heard. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do for someone is to let them know they’ve been heard.

Step 3: Apologize and take responsibility

When we say “apologize,” we mean a genuine apology. A genuine apology expresses true remorse for the client's bad experience and takes responsibility on behalf of the staff for any actions that contributed to that experience. Be careful that you don’t go overboard to the point where you sound insincere. 

Step 4: Take it offline

While it’s important you respond to a client’s negative review, you don’t want to get into a public tête-à-tête. Explain that you’d like to discuss their experience further and make it right. Provide the phone number where they can reach you. Don’t give the reviewer the spa’s general line; give them your extension/direct line so they can easily reach you without having to jump through any more hoops. 

Step 5: Provide your name

End the apology with your name. Not only does it make your response more personal and less canned, it’s useful to the client if they call so they know who to speak to.

Step 6: Follow up

So you’ve apologized and asked the client to contact you, but it’s been a couple days and you haven’t heard anything. Now what? If you know the reviewer’s name, look up their info in your scheduling software and personally call them. If they don’t answer, leave a message explaining who you are, offer a brief apology, then ask them to call you back so you can make things right. If you still don’t hear from them after you call, you can try and follow up via email. You may not hear back, but at least you’ll know you’ve taken the right steps to try and remedy the situation.

Bonus step: Share the feedback with your staff

While it’s true that negative reviews are often written through a lens of anger, in some cases, there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed. Share any negative reviews with your staff during your weekly meeting. Use that time to brainstorm ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again. It’s important to note that sharing negative reviews isn’t meant to shame the staff or make them feel bad. It’s meant to empower them to provide better customer service and nurture the team mentality.