How to Handle Client Complaints

How to Handle Client Complaints

Every salon owner dreads THAT phone call…a disgruntled customer is on the other end, unhappy with the service they received.


NOT good.


However, it is how we deal with these complaints that define us. Even the most experienced of stylists can be caught off guard and have to rectify a misunderstanding.


So what DO you do if a customer is unhappy?


Listen up! Be sensitive and remember, communication is key!


Lending a sympathetic ear is key, as the client has chosen to return to you to put right what was wrong. Chosen being the operative word here, as they could have gone elsewhere and never come back, leaving you wondering what you ever did wrong. They are effectively giving your salon a second chance and want a solution.

Let the client talk and explain the problem, without cutting in. Constructive criticism is part and parcel of owning a salon and running a business. You need to understand WHY they are unhappy and where the problem lies, which leads me nicely to my next point.


Understand the problem – Why are they fault finding?


After you have let them finish talking, it is important to show empathy and clarify what the problem is. It is likely communication that has got you into this predicament in the first place, so it is vital to be crystal clear in communication moving forward.

Double and triple repeat what they are saying and what YOU are saying to ensure you have fully understood their needs and want to correct the issue at hand.

By doing so, you show you are considerate but authoritative and in a position to put it right, in the hope that it puts the client at ease after the conversation has taken place.


Admit fault, don’t get defensive. Show you hear them.


IF you or your staff were at fault, the best thing to do is hold your hands up and admit it.

Whether it was miscommunication, a misunderstanding or a results based promise that didn’t come off. Whatever it is be honest.

Even if you believe this not to be the case, the customer is always right as they say! And sometimes you have to suck it up and keep calm.

Regrettably, most complaints will happen in the salon environment, in front of other customers, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and handle in a professional manner to get the best outcome.

However, if a client behaves disrespectfully or is abusive. You are perfectly within your rights to terminate the conversation and ask them to leave if they continue to do so. You can only put it right with some cooperation on their part too.


Actions speak louder than words, now put it right.


Hopefully you have managed to negotiate an outcome that you are both happy with. Now you must put that plan into action and set out how you plan to do so.

Calibrate and explain to the client what you will do to rectify said problem and who will be dealing with them. This should iron out any concerns they may have and that the problem is unlikely to be repeated.


Learn from the experience. Key take aways:


It can be an upsetting experience for both the client and you as a stylist/salon owner, so it is important that we learn from these mistakes to avoid a repeat performance.

Ensure staff have extensive training and comprehensive consultations with their clients to avoid any mishaps in the first place.

This can help guarantee that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and the clients expectations can be fulfilled to the highest degree.


Prevention better than cure, how to avoid it happening again.


Communicate!! Be very clear about your understanding of what they are asking. By this I mean don’t just nod and make the right noises, if you have not fully grasped what their demands are. Ensure you have BOTH understood each other and be transparent in your aims, ask questions to further clarify if needs be, and encourage your client to reciprocate.


Mistakes cost the salon money as you can rarely charge for amendments and your staff are having to block out further time to remedy the issue. Minimising the risks at the beginning of an appointment with a thorough consultation is a good place to start.


It is much easier to retain than gain as the saying goes. So make it a high priority within your salon to address any issues should they arise, head on and ensure your team has an in depth understanding on how to minimize the risk of it happening again.


Have a policy in place:


A great way to know how to deal with complaints before they arise is to have a complaint policy in place. This way your staff have a point of reference and guide should any issues arise. To find out HOW to create a complaints policy for your salon, please click here! And I will take you through step by step.


Thanks for reading, I hope this article has given you something to think about and help you in your daily life as a Salon owner/Miracle worker!


Remember folks my motto is: Under promise, Over deliver!


What do you do when things go wrong? Have you tried any of these techniques?










I am a hairstylist based in the UK. There is nothing I love more than to be cutting, colouring and ultimately making my clients feel amazing after their visit to the salon.

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