Handling Your Haters: Online Reviews 101

Professional Beauty guest contributor Nick Lembo from Yelp explains how to build your business through online reviews, and handle those haters…

Last November, UK hotel The Broadway Hotel, guests Tony and Jan Jenkinson discovered an additional, unexpected $100 charge on their credit cards several hours after having checked out. On inquiring about the surprise charge, the couple were promptly informed it was a penalty fee due to the bad review they had left of the hotel online. The hotel had it included in their fine print that negative reviews of their service would incur a charge.

The policy stated: “Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review”.

For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.

Unsurprisingly, the couple took to the media to publicise their shock over the dodgy behaviour. Needless to say, The Broadway Hotel is more likely to be remembered for punishing people with credit card charges, than it is for the poor review the UK couple left it.

With the rise of social media and review sites, consumers are talking about local businesses on the internet more than ever, especially for personal experiences like beauty treatments. So Professional Beauty got the expert advice from leading online review site Yelp‘s Nick Lembo on how to handle your online feedback, like a pro…

Fill out your page

“It’s important to complete your business listing with information about your business and photos of your salon so potential customers can find what they’re looking for. On Yelp, you can do this for free, ” says Lembo.

Respond diplomatically to reviews

Lembo advises thinking of online reviews in the same way you would approach conversations with your clients in real life.

“It’s important to respond to online feedback as you would in person. On Yelp, you can respond to reviews publicly or privately. Private messages are like an email to the reviewer’s platform,” explains Lembo.

“Public messages, which are visible to everyone on your page, can be your best PR tool when used correctly. If replying publicly to a critical review, thank the reviewer for their feedback, state your policies, and calmly flag any inaccuracies.”

Show you value feedback

“Reviews are a great way to collect honest, useful feedback from customers,” says Lembo, who recommends utilising them as business development tools.

“Many salons even look through reviews during staff meetings. If your reviews show common threads, implementing customer suggestions could improve the overall customer experience.”

Don’t focus on the negative

“Contrary to myth, nearly 80 per cent of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or higher, so most are neutral to positive. If you do face a negative review, remember you can’t please all your customers, all the time. Take a deep breath and don’t respond for 24 hours; you could also get a friend or colleague to read your response.” 

Have your say: What has been your experience with online reviews? Have you ever had a customer leave terrible feedback?


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