How to Handle Complaints Like a Pro

In the Lash Industry, you will most certainly hear your fair share of customer complaints and… you cannot win them all, no matter how hard you try. After investing so much time, money and effort into learning and developing your craft the last thing you want to be concerned with is grumpy clients and bad reviews!

In a perfect world, mitigating your clients concerns should have been done, during your consultation, when setting her expectations. However, that is not always sufficient and you may have a complaint every once in a while. It is just part of the territory in any customer service-based industry.  In Classic 101 I have a whole chapter dedicated to Client Consultations and I suggest that you have a bullet proof consultation that is paired with a Personal Services Policy that outlines what a client should expect from you and from her new lash extensions including aftercare.

That being said you probably aren’t looking at this article because you are anticipating complaints and you have most likely already encountered one. I can tell you I know that feeling of desperation. That fear you get that feels like a lighting strike to the gut and you think everything you have worked so hard for is in jeopardy and is about to crumble around your ears! So lets dig in right now and get down to it…

Here are 10 helpful steps you can take should you come across one of those “hard to please” customers…

Don’t get mad!

Do not take it personally! Some people will just never be satisfied no matter how good of a job you have done.  Remain calm and keep a friendly demeanour.  The majority of conflicts can be avoided by being friendly and level headed and by showing them that you are concerned about their problem and want to help.

Book them an appointment for a new consultation ASAP!

Do not try to diagnose any problems over the phone, email or text. When a client first contacts you with a concern you should book them in as soon as possible so that you have an opportunity to look at their lashes first hand. LIMIT YOUR ENGAGEMENT WITH HER VIA TEXT OR EMAIL. This only serves to invite more questions and raise more concerns while you are literally in the dark about what’s going on with her lashes. Just bring her in as soon as you can and make seeing her a top priority! Let her know (nicely) that sending you all those pictures of her lashes really doesn’t help you to see what’s going on. Here is some helpful dialogue…

“Oh my gosh Sarah! I’m so sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your lashes! Let’s get you in right a way so I can see first hand what’s going on. Can you come in today at 3pm?”

Once the appointment is booked:

“Sarah, I want you to be happy so we will do a new consultation. It will take about 30 to 45 minutes. Can you also bring in your cosmetics that you have been using since I last saw you? Just so we can rule out any and all issues you might be having with your lashes”

Examine her lashes and cosmetics

Great work! You booked her in (whew)! Now… if she brought her cosmetics and aftercare products, you can rule out any foul play so that you can really diagnose what the actually issue is. Make sure the makeup she is wearing is not oil-based or waterproof and that her makeup is formulated for lash extensions.  Advise her that even though she is using makeup that is formulated to be safe on lash extensions, it will still shorten the lifespan of the adhesive bond. Just the act of removing the makeup will take its toll on the bond overtime, causing tiny cracks that compromise the bond structure and prematurely begin the process of deterioration on that adhesive.

Please do not use the word “Glue”

It cheapens the integrity of the products we use and it sounds bad!!!

The examination of her lashes is crucial. After only a quick inspection you should be able to determine how she has kept up her aftercare. Look for the following red flags:

  • makeup, lotions and/or other cosmetics
  • sleep or other debris in and around the lashes and lash line
  • signs of irritation or contraindications
  • missing lashes or gaps in the lash line
  • broken or damaged lashes
  • more Anagen phase lashes than Catagen or Telogen phase lashes (obvious shed)
  • oily lids
  • adhesive residue
Troubleshoot any Application Problems

So now at this point you will have diagnosed if her aftercare is on point, if she has been picking, if there are contraindications, or if this is just a seasonal shed off. You should have a pretty good idea if you need to troubleshoot any problems you may be having with your application or adhesive.  It may be a simple solution like increasing or decreasing the humidity in your studio or having her resist the urge to chat during her treatment. Some clients move their heads, eyes and lashes excessively while talking and that can affect the application as it is a struggle to apply lashes to someone who is moving a lot. Refer to your previous appointment notes to review the humidity and temperature of your studio and how her last appointment went (e.g.: she was restless, chatty, watery eyes, or feeling under the weather).

Still unsure? Determin her Shed Cycle timeline from your notes (if you kept them).  Often you will see a pattern emerge due to seasonal shedding, illness, dietary or life changes and/or the temperature/humidity recorded during their appointments. It is imperative to keep excellent notes for every client, every visit. If you haven’t been doing that I suggest you begin doing so right away! You can purchase professional, ready made Consultation Forms package (including a What to Expect / Personal Services Policy) here.

Determine the Regularity of Her Visits

Clients who do not maintain a regular and dedicated lash fill cycle with you (meaning she is booking lash fills with other technicians) would not receive a personal guarantee of your work as you cannot control what another lash tech has done to the lashes that you have applied and you cannot guarantee someone else work either.

Guarantee Your Work

If there are a lot of lashes missing and she has professed to have followed your aftercare instructions, you might consider offering another discounted or free of charge appointment, making sure to grab those forms and do another full consultation again and pay close attention to tracking appointments see if her situation changes.

Do a Lash Removal

Are there contraindications? Does she find them to be uncomfortable? It maybe she is just not right for lash extensions! Do a Lash Removal Service at no cost.  You may want to offer a different service (like Lash Lift) at a discounted rate.

DO NOT offer a refund!

Your time is valuable!  Make sure to outline this policy in the agreement/waiver (including credit card charge backs or disputes)  Another good reason to get her in front of you right away… It is much harder to demand a refund in person when you are offering to give her a free or discounted service.

Only use a refund as a last resort!

Okay so this is a last ditch effort to defuse a hot situation. By now there should have been red flags all over the place and you need to get this troublemaker out of your life forever! Consider creating Refund for Non-Disclosure Agreement outlining that they agree that they will not make any negative posts about you, your business or affiliates on social media or anywhere online in return for a full (or partial) refund! This is pretty easy to create for a small fee on LawDepot.com or LawDepot.ca (depending on where you live). This will help to prevent any damage to your reputation.

Learn From Your Mistakes

So my guess is that there were red flags from the beginning that maybe you overlooked and you are seeing why you should have turned her away. We all want to grow our business and take on as many new clients as possible but we need to sacrifice quantity for quality.

Next time you encounter someone who seems like they might be hard to please be honest with them and with yourself. They might not be right for you and you have the right to refuse personal services to anyone at any time! We all make mistakes but a good technician learns from them and also makes corrections in her application, practice or customer service.  Some mistakes are very costly especially if it is one that you have made in the past and have not learned to correct that behaviour. 

“Some people make it extremely difficult to continue believing that complaining is not one of the basic human needs.” 
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Excerpt from Classic 101 – A Comprehensive Guide to the Safe Application of Lash Extensions with an Introductory to Advanced Lashing Techniques authored by Heather Gillett – Master Lash Artist, Certified Trainer, Course Creator & Academy Administrator at Lash Class

Published by Heather Gillett - Makeup Artist - Certified Lash Educator

Entrepreneur; I am the CEO and Managing Director of Lash Class Inc. and the creator of Classic 101, a NALA Accredited - Lash Extension course. Graduate of NUMA International Institute of Makeup and Design: The Master's Program

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