We respond privately to each Yelp review, negative or positive. Luckily, we have very few negative reviews. We always thank them for reviewing us and if they have said something negative, we indicate that we appreciate their input and will work on correcting the issue. If we feel they have a valid complaint we will act on it to fix the problem. We believe that most people are intelligent enough to be able to see when a reviewer is being out of line in their expectations, though. If most of the reviews are positive, that is what most people focus on. Responding in a negative manner would only serve to make us look like we are not open to any criticism.
Kathy Dent, Salon Glow, Reno, Nev.

I respond to every comment, negative or positive, but not in a confrontational way. Every comment deserves a response. I believe that negative responses offer us the opportunity to improve our customer service, our client relations, and our personal commitment to our profession. If this business is your passion, you welcome these reviews. After all, nobody has a perfect appointment every time they visit my nail spa. I never go back on the writer — I will express my concern that they had an unpleasant service and offer either a discount or a complimentary service — once. If they accept it and become a repeat client, I’ve succeeded. If I’m not given a second chance, chances are they weren’t going to ever be happy.
Debbie Escamilla, Hand to Toe Nail Services, Merced, Calif.

There are people who have nothing better to do than to focus on the negative and to find ways to try and sabotage your business, especially if they think you are doing well as a business owner. As long as you are in a competitive business, there is always going to be someone thinking about ways to pull customers away from you, and one easy way is to create bad press using sites like Yelp. I believe that many social networking sites are just waiting for negative articles to make them more popular, so I try to avoid them totally and always do the right thing. If a negative review does show up on Yelp, you can try to reach out to the individual and resolve the problem — that’s the sign of good business practices. Always give the customer the benefit of the doubt.
Royan Williams, Chicago Nail School, Chicago

As a business owner, it’s always professional courtesy to respond to a negative review of your business. If the person took time to write a review, then it’s my responsibility to reply to it. What I wouldn’t do is reply to it right away. I’d let it sink in for a day or two before I posted a response. I also wouldn’t get into a back-and-forth with the reviewer. Regardless of whether I think the reviewer is right or wrong, they still have an opinion and I need to let them know I’ve heard it. How I’d respond also affects how other people would view me and my business. I’d keep it on-point and wouldn’t get swayed by emotion. I’d apologize if that’s what I need to do, and I’d offer the reviewer something in return. They might never take me up on it, but my hope is that other people would view the way I handled the situation in a positive way. Having said that, I’ve only ever had one negative review on Yelp in 12 years of business.
Laura Merzetti, Scratch My Back Nail Studio, Ajax, Ontario, Canada

We have only had one negative feedback episode and our reaction amongst ourselves was epic. However, we decided not to respond as to give it any validity (everyone has a right to an opinion). What we agreed upon was that when people give negative feedback, the readers should consider that they may not be getting the complete truth to the situation as it unfolded and the reader may only be getting one side of the story, and that story possibly maybe plagued with reaction (emotion) versus response (logic). The reader should also consider that one’s perception of the events may be skewed by one’s past experiences. We feel that all the positive feedback will counteract any negative feedback and our supporters voices will speak truth over our participation is a game of defending our position.
Jessica Taylor, Honolulu Nail Academy, Honolulu

I wrote a comment back to a customer who was not satisfied and wrote a negative review on Yelp. I apologized that I made her unhappy, and I offered a free treatment . She was happy to hear that her opinion mattered to me. She was not able to come back to get the free treatment, but she wrote a new review and gave me four stars because of my response .
Miyuki Ueda, MYU Beauty, Irvine, Calif.

Yes, I would reply to a negative Yelp review. It needs to be taken care of in a professional manner. You want to see what the problem was and see what you can go to help make it better. My response would be, “I'm sorry you feel your experience was negative. Please contact me when possible to discuss a follow-up appointment or constructive criticism to make your salon visit more enjoyable! I look forward to hearing from you.”
Lisa-Marie Manderfield, Krush Hair+Nail Salon, Kokomo, Ind.

Next question:
What was your biggest nail service disaster? [Answers will be printed in the March 2015 issue.] Share your opinion on the topic by e-mailing your response by December 15 to Tracy.Rubert@bobit.com. Please include your name, salon, city and state, and a high-resolution headshot with your response.

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