4 Tips for Avoiding and Dealing With Client Catastrophes

4 Tips for Avoiding and Dealing With Client Catastrophes

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How to Defuse Bridal Bombs: 4 Tips for Avoiding and Dealing With Client Catastrophes with Vanessa Joy

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the May issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

The first time I had a bride complain about me was when I shot my first wedding, for which I’d charged just $500. Long story short, the bride didn’t like the pictures. Looking back at those pictures now, nine years later, she certainly had every right to complain because they just weren’t that good. It was also my fault because I didn’t provide her with clear expectations of what she should expect from my photography.

If you’ve ever had a client upset with you, you know that it can flip your life upside down. You can’t sleep at night. All you do is worry about it and talk about it to people who really don’t want to hear it. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways you can avoid client catastrophes, especially with brides. There are ways to handle these unfortunate events that will leave your bride happy without letting her walk all over you. Brides can be the most difficult clients, but if you follow the steps below, you’ll be able to breeze through transactions with or without confrontation.

Tip #1: Set realistic expectations.

Setting expectations is where it all starts. If you set expectations for your photos, your customer service, your product delivery and anything else that involves clients and what they receive, you won’t have a problem meeting those expectations. If you don’t set them, you run the risk of your client subconsciously setting them for you—and likely setting them beyond your capabilities.

Setting expectations starts with your website. The second they come to your site, they subconsciously create expectations about your brand, your photos and what they can expect from their wedding pictures. When I meet with clients, I talk about their wedding day and show them pictures that look like what I envision for their final product. If they’re having a church ceremony, I show them how I photograph in that setting. If they’re not doing any of their photos until after sunset, I show them a winter wedding.

Setting expectations early on means you will be able to communicate with your clients more effectively and they will have realistic expectations of what you’re going to deliver to them. Set expectations for quality of the product and turnaround time as well.

Always give yourself a buffer in turnaround time. I tell my clients their proofs will be ready in around three to four weeks, even though I know I’ll have them done in one to two weeks. This gives me two possible outcomes. I’ll either deliver the product early to them and they’ll be happy that I’ve exceeded their expectations, or, if some things are holding me up on the backend and I deliver past my normal one- to two-week turnaround, they will still get their photos “on time.” It’s a win-win either way.

Tip #2: Keep lines of communication open.

Your clients should always be able to get a hold of you via email or phone. You should also be easily approachable. If they’re having a problem, you want them to feel comfortable coming to you. When they come to you at the beginning of a problem, it’s easier to resolve it. It also ensures that your client isn’t getting madder and madder, while you are completely unaware something is even wrong.

Throughout your relationship with the bride or groom, email them asking how things are going and if there’s anything you can do to make things better. This may open up a can of worms, but it will help diffuse problems before they begin—and it gives you the chance to rectify existing ones. Create a client exit survey that can help you avoid problems with future clients.

Tip #3: Sympathize and listen.

When a client comes to you with a problem, you need to be able to respond favorably. I realize that half the time clients come to you with a problem, their expectations or demands are petty, and you want to roll your eyes at them. Don’t do that.

When they talk to you about their concerns, sympathize with them. Tell them you understand how they feel and you are sorry about it. Repeat what they say back to them in different words so it’s clear that both parties understand what is going on. (These techniques will not only help you with your client relationships, but pretty much any relationship you have.)

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Tip #4: Ask them what they want.

It might seem like a really bad idea to ask a hypersensitive, emotionally unstable bride what she wants. Give clients the benefit of the doubt. When you ask a client how she wants you to compensate for a problem, verbalizing the problem will help make them more rational. Ask them what you can do to make things right, and you’ll often arrive at a practical solution.

When you do reach a reasonable solution, overcompensate. Offer an additional free canvas or some extra pages in their wedding album. Your goal is to turn unhappy clients into very happy clients, and one of the best ways to do this is by overcompensating.

If you’ve never had a bridal bomb explode in your face, trust me, you will. I’ve been in business for almost a decade, and I’ve had my share of client confrontations. These methods have helped me manage clients in a way that keeps them happy throughout our relationship.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the May issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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4 Tips for Avoiding and Dealing With Client Catastrophes

with Vanessa Joy time to read: 5 min
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