…and it turns out to be AWFUL.
…and it turns out to be AWFUL.
Guys, be SO, SO careful to separate your business self from your personal self and NEVER address an issue while angry.
It’s often necessary to apologize and respond kindly EVEN when you are NOT in the wrong and are ready to stab someone in the face. (Doing this in person or over the phone gives the added benefit of a human connection, which can serve to slow down anger)
(Let’s say a client is upset about how long it took to get their images.)
1. Listen carefully and openly- encourage them to tell you their thoughts on what went wrong. (“I want to be sure that I understand your frustrations. Please tell me what’s on your mind”)
2. Repeat back the main point(s). Empathize.
Let them know you hear them and that you understand what it would be like to feel like they feel.
Note that this is NOT the same thing as falsely “admitting guilt” and certainly should never be sarcastic or false. (“I understand that you are frustrated about how long it took to get your images. It sounds like you were expecting them in 3 weeks or so, so I understand that getting them on the 6th week would be very disappointing!”)
3. Apologize for what you can.
Here’s where you’re thinking: "Yeah, but the contract said 6 weeks and they KNEW that! I even told them in person a few times!!”
Here’s the thing: clearly, you didn’t do something awful and wrong, true. But by your actions, someone experienced frustration and anger associated with your business. So, yes, it’s YOUR job to correct the situation if at all possible.
And honestly, the truth is, they don’t CARE who is right or wrong. They are upset and want someone to answer for that.
"But how to I apologize when I did nothing wrong?"
Sometimes, it’s not about apologizing for committing a wrong, but apologizing for what you could have done to avoid the hurt.
Try this (with genuine sincerity) :
"I’m so sorry for the frustration I caused you. I see now that I should make some changes so that the schedule of the images being released is more clear. Although it is in the contract, I’ll be sure to add it in e-mail form to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I don’t want any part of working with me to be frustrating!"
4. Make it better
Often, this step is not actually needed- all you have to do is the above three, and they feel so much better that it’s all good. :) But sometimes, you might need to add:
"I want to be sure to make this better for you. Is there anything else I can do for you to ease your frustration?"
Sometimes, you can offer a print or small item- it really depends on the situation. But the offer will typically go a long way.
One more tip: Don’t EVER send a long e-mail of reasons why you are right / explanations. I know it’s hard to digest, since you want to defend yourself. But clients DO NOT CARE WHO IS RIGHT OR WRONG. They are just hurting, and they want you to stop the hurt.
By the way, if you want to be able to handle client issues like a freakin’ BRAIN NINJA, then you need to be following http://psychologyforphotographers.com/. Seriously amazing, amazing articles, books, and courses. Recently, I bought her “PsySecret” course and I am LOVING it it’s already coming in handy in my business!! <3
…I’m just waiting for the dancing to start, like…
(And I’m still editing July weddings…halfway through October)
…the DAY before the wedding. :/
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