Jun 7, 2021

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6 Steps To Handling Refund Requests & Negative Reviews


Text overlay reads "your roadmap to navigating refund requests as a hairstylist" in front of brown salon chairs and sinks. The wall in the back has been painted with a colorful rainbow

“do everything with kindness, compassion and empathy”

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When I first started out in the industry, no one ever taught me how to properly handle refund requests or negative reviews. The thought of one made me so anxious.

I had so many questions…

  • What would I say?

  • How would other people react?

  • Would people think I’m a failure?

  • What if no one ever wants to see me again?

  • What should I do to make them happy?

And no one was giving me any answers.

Flash forward to making my biggest hair mistake ever and I ended up handling it ALL wrong.

Oh if I could go back in time… 

You might know by now that most of what I teach comes from a place of failure, and I really want to help you avoid the mistakes that I’ve made.

So that’s why today we’re diving into:

The 6 Steps to Handling a Refund Request & Negative Reviews

Step 1: Feel all the feelings

It’s not fun to get a refund request or a negative review (it probably wouldn’t be called a negative review if it were a pleasant experience…). And you’re allowed to be upset and frustrated to receive one.

We’re all about keeping it real around here and feeling all the feelings (even the crappiest ones) is important. 

I want you to get it all off your chest. Get out all the emotions that you wish you could say to the client. Write it down in a journal, open the notes app on your phone and get it all out, even if you need to vent to a friend, whatever it is, get it out of your system.

PRO TIP: Never write your vent as a reply to an email, DM, text or a review. On the off chance you accidentally hit send.

Getting the things that we wish we could say out of our system will help us go into the response with a clearer head.

Step 2: Know the facts

Humans are, by nature, emotional beings. That’s why feeling all those feels is step #1. In this step, I want you to write down the facts, what do you know for sure. And I don’t want you to attach an emotion to it.

(This is actually known as mindfulness!)

Here’s an example, a client emails you about a refund request on their hair appointment.

What do you know for sure?

  1. The client came in for their appointment and asked for a certain type of hair

  2. I explained to them that they couldn’t have that type of hair and offered an alternative

  3. Client left happy

  4. Client is now asking for a refund because they didn’t get the hair I told them they couldn’t have

Those are the facts. And yes, it may sound cold and harsh but that’s okay, we’re not onto the part of actually communicating back to the client yet. But we’re not attaching our emotions to those facts. They are simply facts.

Step 3: Drop the ego

Yikes! I know, I know. This is haaaarddd. Believe me, it’s hard for me too. I’m still working on this one.

I want you to make sure everything you’re doing in your business is with kindness, compassion and empathy. Showing your clients that you’re not doing it to them or at them, but you’re doing it for them.

It’s not easy to have humility and admit that you’re an imperfect human who makes mistakes.

There have been times where I’ve had to get really honest with myself and go, “you know what, this one point that they make it’s right” and it’s so hard.

And that’s where dropping the ego, having that humility, can play a really big part.

Step 4: Take it offline

This is so important, especially when dealing with DMs, texts and online reviews. You don’t want to have a back and forth in those forums.

It’s important to offer to have a face-to-face conversation or a phone call. It’s easy to misinterpret tone and meaning over texts. Having a face-to-face or phone conversation helps reduce misinterpretations of the conversation.

Step 5: Ask them what they feel is fair

A lot of times we’re willing to bend over backwards, go the extra mile and overcompensate for refund requests or negative reviews.

The easiest way to avoid overcompensation is to simply ask the client “what would you feel is fair in this situation?”

More often than not, what the client thinks is fair is far less than what we would’ve initially offered. This also allows you to choose how to move forward.

If you’re offering a solution that the client wasn’t looking for, then it’s not really a solution is it?

Perhaps the refund request client tells you they think getting a fresh tone would be fair, maybe they’ll just ask you for a purple shampoo, and yes, they might ask for an entirely free appointment. But now you can choose how you want to move forward.

Step 6: Respond for the viewer, not the commenter

This step is more relevant for negative reviews, but it’s crucial to remember.

When you’re replying in a public forum, you want to be aware that your reply is for the potential client who’s viewing your page. They’re looking to see how you handle those difficult situations with clients.

If you handle them with kindness, compassion and empathy, they’re going to be confident that if something goes wrong for them, they can come to you and the business and they know it’ll be resolved and they’ll be taken care of.

On the other hand, if you respond defensively and aggressively (you know, full of ego) a potential customer is gonna see that and be like “wow… I don’t think I would feel comfortable at that business…”

So remember, when you’re responding with kindness, compassion and empathy and taking it offline, your responding for the potential client who views it, not the unhappy client who left it.

And there you have it, the 6 steps to dealing with a negative review or refund request. I hope you found it helpful! I seriously love talking about this stuff.

If you want to dive deeper into this sort of business stuff, if you wanna take things off your plate, if you wanna stress less you definitely are going to want to get on the waitlist for my online program Rock Your Business, your stress-free guide to earning 6 figures. Enrolment is opening up soon and you do not wanna miss it.

If you haven’t checked out part 1 of this 5 part hairstylist business building series, go check it out here. 

Let me know if you’ll be using these steps the next time you have an unhappy client, shoot me a DM over on Instagram @dawnbradleyhair. I seriously love hearing from you.

See ya in the next part!

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

Get to know me! :-)

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