When you are involved in any business, you will most likely run into unhappy clients or have a negative response to your services. Photography is a very personal business, especially when it comes to family photos, weddings, or businesses and clients can become very sensitive when the photos are important to them. So how should you respond to an upset client and maintain good customer service? Learning how to handle this situation appropriately is very important, especially when you are new to the photography business.
Listen to your Client's needs
Before responding to an unhappy client or trying to offer a solution, listen to their concerns. It is so important to take the time to hear out their problem and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes, perspective can be the best thing to solving an issue with a client. Think about how you would like the situation resolved if you were the client. Once you have heard their concerns, it is easier to identify what the problem truly is and approach a solution. Part of the listening process also includes letting them explain their problem even if it affects you personally. It can be very difficult to take a complaint, but remember to avoid responding out of frustration and your own personal feelings, but to address their problem patiently. A confrontational approach can often make the scenario worse and ruin your relationship with the client.
Decide how to Respond
After you have heard our your unhappy client in full, figure out how to best respond. You could do this one of three ways. You can meet your client face to face, call them over the phone, or send them a message in writing. The medium you use to respond can really make a change in the situation for the better. Whatever method you choose though, make sure that you don’t respond hastily. Take your time to figure out how to best respond and handle the situation appropriately before jumping in and responding rashly. If your issue is small, an email could suffice to communicate over the issue. However, if your client seems angry, maybe a phone call or face to face meeting would be the better route. Remember to be gracious and try to calm down your client.
Offer a Solution to your client
Before you approach your client, you should think through what your solution would be. For some clients, you can offer to reshoot or to refit the images if they aren’t quite to their liking. For others, you may need to be more creative. A wedding, for example, can’t be reshot if the client is not happy with the results. For instances like these, think through other things that you can offer them, such as free canvas prints or a partial refund. Try putting yourself in their shoes and figure out what you would want given to you if you were unhappy with your photo shoot. Even though finding a solution can cost your business, providing good customer service and being willing to go out of your way to make them happy says a lot about you as a photographer.
If after all this, you still have not reached a conclusion, remember that some issues are not possible to resolve. Learn when to continue trying to reach a conclusion and when you need to walk away from a client. I personally hate to turn people away, but there are times when there is nothing you can do. When you reach this point, politely end the discussion and move on to the next client. Hopefully though, you will be able to follow the steps in this post and appropriately resolve all conflicts in your relationships with your clients.