Dealing with client complaints

Have you heard of “killing people with kindness?” How you handle a client’s complaint will most likely have an impact on how they respond and react. 

Make sure the client is fully aware of the procedure, possible outcomes, and price before their appointment. Make sure you are calm and confident when you explain everything to them. They need to fully understand the healing stages and aftercare instructions before you start the procedure. 

It is fundamental to document everything discussed during consultations and appointments. Although in your consultations all processes and what to expect are explained in depth verbally, some clients do not retain all of this information, or completely understand the procedure and outcomes, and will complain about something you probably thought they were aware of. 

This is also why it is important that you give your client an aftercare kit with all this information written down, so they can read this information at home if they have forgotten any information you have conveyed in their consultation.

For example, during the first procedures, some clients insist on a colour that you know won’t be dark enough for their skin tone, brow hair, etc. They will come in complaining that the colour didn’t hold and the strokes are too light, and during the perfecting session they will most likely agree with the colour you initially suggested however, they may need a third session and may complain about over-servicing. 

Explain to your client that the first session is for you as an artist to learn the client’s skin and create a brow base. The perfecting session is required to add more detailed work after skin healing, to make any adjustments required, and perhaps use another technique due to their skin type and retention. For example, you may suggest another option is the digital machine method or a combination brow, as oily skin types and excessive bleeding tend to not hold microblading successfully.

Make sure you document the colour you suggested, and what the client wanted and decided to proceed with so when you have to book their third session you can justify it, as well as the section of their form where they signed explaining why they may require a third session. (Be cautious that some client’s only scan their forms and do not fully read it in detail).

Also, when explaining the healing stages to your client, you will need to be very thorough and even show them images. Photos explaining the procedure should also be in your after kit pamphlets. Always bring the worst-case scenario to their attention.

The below image is a good example of the skins healing stages to show your clients:

Some clients will call during the healing stages and complain about scabbing, the pigment appearing too dark, or the pigment dropping under the skin’s surface. Refer them to their aftercare pamphlet, where they can re-read and view images of the first week and the full month of healing.

You are obligated to attempt to find an amicable solution to their complaints. Compromise is often the best solution when both parties have difficulty agreeing and understanding each other. Most Consumer Fair Trading Offices will expect that you have made reasonable efforts to find a solution to the problem.

If you decide to refund a client because the client was unhappy with the outcome of the procedure make sure they agree in writing, that by accepting the refund the complaint is satisfied in full. 

If you feel like your attempts to satisfy a customer’s complaint aren’t successful, consult a lawyer. Most Professional Indemnity Insurance policies will require you to advise the insurer in writing of any matters that may be likely to give rise to a future claim. 

Never blame a client or yourself for any complications, as this will only worry your client and they may lose faith in you. Never provide an answer to a client’s question unless you are sure it’s correct. If you are unsure of a question, tell your client you will investigate and advise. If that is your response ensure you re-contact the client with a reply in a timely manner. If the question is of a medical nature and you think that the question is out of your capability or qualification, then refer them to a doctor. 

As mentioned above, make sure your client is aware of any possible complications and outcomes before going ahead with the procedure, and that you are always available to your client if they need any advice after the treatment. Sometimes all a client needs is to be heard and reassured that what they are experiencing is normal.

It is highly professional for a tattoo artist to decline to provide treatment for any client with unrealistic expectations, or a client who wants a brow tattoo that you are not comfortable creating, as you know they will likely have tattoo regret. 

Some clients will suffer from “treatment regret” and you need to learn how to identify them during their consultation. This isn’t easy so don’t be hard on yourself if you are unable to identify every single one. 

For example, a lot of clients follow “trends” and we all know that trends change over time. Someone may come in and request an Amy Winehouse winged eyeliner for example. It is not natural, realistic and it may not even suit the client’s facial features or eye shape. Give the client another option, maybe a lash enhancement or a natural eyeliner with a slight wing, and suggest the client can always draw the extra wing length in. Some clients want unrealistic high eyebrow arches that are way too high for their forehead. 

Remind them that it won’t look good on them and that the shape you create is personalised and based on their facial measurements and bone structure. If the client wishes they can create over the tattoo (once healed) a thicker brow, using the underlying tattoo as an everyday base for balance and symmetry. If the client is insistent do not be afraid to be firm with them and refuse to do the procedure. They will be grateful in the future.