You are a business owner first. Unfortunately, you will have to deal with problem clients or unhappy customers at some point in your business. Sometimes the problem is their insecurities. Sometimes the problem is miscommunication. Sometimes the problem is just a freak accident. Regardless, there are simple ways to handle problem clients without letting it escalate further.
Keep your Cool
First of all,” problem client” is a broad term. They may be a very kind mom with lots of crazy requests. Or they might be an unhappy bride ready to sue. Regardless, you have to keep your cool. Or at least appear to keep your cool. You can vent out loud to yourself all you want, but when you respond to your client stay calm and collect.
Choose your words carefully. Imagine everything will be screenshot or recorded and posted all over the internet.
What do you want to convey about your business and your brand?
(using some my favorite clients as photo examples to balance out the problem ones) hahah
2. Be Kind
Again, you have to remember anything you say can and WILL be used against you. Do you remember when you paid for something and were dissatisfied? Whether it was a hamburger, or a vacuum? You felt disappointed, maybe scammed. These “problem clients” are people too. With real feelings. Their expectations were not met. They are sad, disappointed or confused. Even if they are unkind or just plain annoying, choose to be kind. After all, unkind people need kindness the most. Kill them with kindness.
3. It’s Okay to Feel Sad
They feel sad… you feel sad. Even if it’s not your mistake, it’s hard when someone doesn’t like the experience you gave to them. When they aren’t happy, I am certainly not happy. Be sad, feel it. Pray about it. Talk to your spouse or best friend about it, but keep it there. Don’t post about it online, or tell everyone you know. You are a business, remember that always.
4. Acknowledge Their Problem
There is a problem…otherwise there would be no “problem client.” You may not agree with the problem, but you must acknowledge it. To them, it is important. To them, it is a big deal. Acknowledge how it made them feel, but don’t agree unless you really do agree.
5. Resolve It
Option 1: Refund
This is the easiest out. Sometimes it’s the only way to rid yourself of the stress.
Option 2: Offer to Re-Edit, Re-Shoot, Refund, Fix or Re-Do
Again, if it’s your mistake or inconsistency, redo for free. If it’s their insecurities, choices or misunderstanding, offer to redo/refund for a fee.
Option 3: Offer Something of Value
Offer something to make up for what value they feel they lost. For example If you missed a shot they really wanted, offer them their favorite print of another moment. An album, a print, a canvas, a gift card…make them happy.
6. Some people will NEVER be HAPPY
Because of their insecurities or their personality, some people never are satisfied and are always out for free stuff, drama or refunds. If you’ve been kind and done everything you can for them, ignore them and move on. Sometimes ignoring the drama or responding with only kindness is the most frustrating them for them. Some people just love to fight.
7. HOW TO AVOID THEM
- Use a Contract
- Don’t Give Discounts
- Get Payment Upfront
- Communicate What to Expect
- Send people to your email (instead of text, call, fb, etc–all messages in one place)
- Trust Your Gut
Subscribe to Kylee Mentors Moms and listen to episode 12 to hear an example of a hard situation we were in a few months ago:
Kylee started Kylee Ann Photography 9 years ago, and has since grown from a one woman amateur show to a full associate team. We shoot 50-75 weddings a year, and thrive on kindness and service. After a year of teaching Intro to Photography at the local technical college, she discovered that helping other entrepreneurs create thriving businesses is what fires her up! She hosts semi-annual Kylee Ann Sleepovers all over the US, speak at conferences and teach online courses about running a small business and marketing.
October 6, 2020