Handling Complaints Part 2 | Conor James Doyle

May 23, 2023

Continuing on from last issue, Content Creator Conor James Doyle of Conor James Education delves into how to deal with tricky situations.

Last month we discussed how to prevent complaints and manage expectations through language. Now, in the second part of his series, Conor looks at offering solutions, dealing with complaints, and understanding when it’s time to say goodbye.


  1. When the result is technically strong but different to what you planned, avoid using incriminating language that alludes to error.
  2. When there is a technical error, call it, explain it and fix it. If they don’t have time, bring them back as soon as you can. In all the time I’ve been hairdressing, I’ve never had a client complain when I flag an error on my part.
  3. Don’t panic. Often when things don’t go right, we go into meltdown mode; it’s like our brain is emptied of all technical knowledge, and we just start mixing random concoctions. If something has gone very left field, learn to know when you’ve reached your limit. It’s always much better to stay calm and take time out to think. Often, the solution pops into my head when I’m not under pressure.
  4. Normalise review appointments. This is my favourite tactic to safeguard against complaints. The key to reviewing appointments is clear boundaries; your purpose is simply to refine the result you got on that day.


Gratitude. For most people, saying you’re not happy with a service is intimidating, so I begin by expressing thanks for them feeling comfortable enough to share.

Prompt. Be fast in addressing the issue. Even if you have no space in your column, try to get them in asap to make a plan. Make sure they know you have listened openly, not defensively. Be honest with yourself; is this the result of an error or sloppy work? If so, be honest and clean it up. Recap your consultation.

This not only safeguards you from a client who might just want to change their mind, but gives an opportunity for you both to figure out where them is communication happened. Document the issues, this is crucial for clarity, but also to protect yourself.

Clients often do not anticipate you to remember specifics. A respectful amount of challenging what they really want is a good thing in my mind. We are here to provide the professional service clients request; not for them to try on different styles or colours for free.

You’re perfectly within your rights to remind them of their initial requests. If you met the brief and they just don’t like it –and no miscommunication or technical faults are evident –it’s not a complaint.


Repeat complaints from the same client is a nightmare. Protect your space. It’s expensive both financially and emotionally. It’s not always that simple to just axe a nagging customer…

The key I’ve found is to make it as impersonal as possible. This is why documenting is SO important; you can’t argue with facts.“So you’ve been with me six times, and including today, four of those times you haven’t been happy.

That’s a 25% satisfaction rate, which to me says we just might not be a good professional fit. It’s really important to me that you have somebody you can be happy with and that I feel like I can meet a client’s needs.

For those reasons, I’m going to recommend these places…. “It can be awkward as hell, and might even keep you up for a few nights, but I can guarantee you’ll feel 10 tons lighter when you realise they’re no longer lurking in your column and dragging your whole week down!

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