Jen Santoro's Tips for Dealing with Difficult Clients

Today we’re talking about one topic that is decidedly not fun but so necessary: dealing with difficult clients. It turns out that it doesn’t have to be a pain. Jen Santoro from Altered Aesthetics gives us her tips on taking negative opinions in stride. Read on to find out how to let bad Yelp reviews, clients who want double discounts, and no-win situations roll off of your back.

Tell us about yourself! Your background, history & the nitty gritty of all things you!

I’m from California and I transplanted to North Carolina 7 years ago. I’ve been fortunate in my career, working at record labels, clothing for 12 years, so I always had cool jobs. But I always wanted to do something with aesthetics. I didn't know much about cosmetic tattooing. I have been doing PMU for 3 years in April, from when I got my first certification. I opened my studio in August 2017. I’m now in my third location.

How did you first get into the beauty industry? The PMU Industry?

When I moved to North Carolina, what I was doing in California didn’t translate. I was the director of production in a clothing company. So I thought, what could I do? I ran into roadblocks, like no night programs. One day my best friend got her brows microbladed, then 6 months later said she wanted to learn to do it. And I wanted to learn too. She got connected with an artist in Brazil who wanted to get a foothold in the US for training. That was in April 2017 and I kept wanting to learn more and more.

I still remember my first clients: 2 of them have been back. My first paying client came back 3 weeks ago; it was so good to see work from my very first client, 3 years later.

Can you tell me about a time that you’ve had to deal with a negative review or opinion?

One of my Cyber Monday specials was a 50% off lip blush. I released 3 codes, so only 3 people could get it. A client wanted to get the 50% and buy a gift card for the 10% off. When I told her she couldn’t do that, she said “I didn’t know your gift cards had restrictions.” You can’t get discounts on top of a 50% off. I’m a small business, I’m going to end up paying the client for a service. I suggested she pay the deposit for the 50%. Three hours later she bought the gift card.

She booked an appointment and due to a glitch, I had to bump it. I let her know I could push it out 3 weeks, or give her a refund. I gave her the refund then received a bad Yelp review. 

Where and when do you encounter negative opinions?

Take a deep breath and be in that person’s shoes. Don’t negate how they feel. I have to listen to what they say and come up with a well-written response that doesn't come at them, like “you shouldn’t feel this way.” 

I replied “Thank you so much for your review, the only way a business grows is by listening to positive and negative reviews, therefore we can change.” I responded to her point by point. I had to take a very business approach and tell her “Your opinion is warranted. I’m sorry you feel that way, that’s not the case at all; I am happy to offer the service at that price.  

That was the first time and it hurt. Even though I was very angry, I had to take my personal feelings out of the response. Customer service and making people feel comfortable is one of the most important things to me. I had three people read it before I posted it. 

In such a digital age, how do you tune out the noise?

I don’t go on Yelp a lot, I don’t ask for Yelp reviews. I’ve seen a local review where a person got a botched job, and the artist responded in a negative way. If anyone was not going to see me based on a bad review, they were probably not someone I would want to see in the first place. The work is on their face, not yours, and their feelings are warranted. I always want people to feel like they had a good experience. 

What are your tips for dealing with difficult clients? Tell us in the comments!

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