One of my favorite things in this business is happy clients. I will go to really great lengths to make clients happy. Probably every photographer loves to have any clients that are gushing about them and praising them. We expect that you are all giving 100% to your clients, but unfortunately, at some point or other, you might have an unhappy client. The best way to avoid having any awkward situations with your clients, or any unhappy customers, is to avoid the difficult situations by communicating, and having great contracts, and agreements.
One common reason for unhappy customers is clients that didn’t get their images on time.
Here are ways to get and keep happy customers:
- Right from the beginning, make sure your clients know when they can expect their images after a shoot. Even better, put it in a contract that you have them sign.
- Remember the golden rule to “under-promise and over-deliver.” Tell them a couple days later than you actually plan on being complete.
- You should always be looking for ways to surprise and delight your client. If you’re a wedding photographer, and you know that the entire month of June you are booked solid, make sure that you warn your clients. And then, because everyone wants to see their images right away, surprise them and get them even just a couple of images quickly.
- If something comes up and you can’t get the images to your clients when you promised, be sure to send a quick email, or call, and let the client know that you will be late.
How to deal with upset customers:
- If a client calls or comes to see you very upset about her images, or not getting her images on time, you have to face it and deal with it head on.
- When a customer is upset, just take a deep breath, and then hear them out. Letting the person vent is one of the very most important things you can do. Photographs are a very emotional purchase, especially if it is a wedding, or a newborn session. Those are moments that cannot be replaced, and so it can be easy for a client to over react, and get very upset.
- The next most important thing is that you need to listen with compassion, and acknowledge what they are saying. If you let your eyes glaze over, the client will realize you are not listening, and might even get more upset. Listen, repeat back what they have expressed to you and let the client know you are concerned.
- Apologize. Giving the customer a clear, heart-felt apology can really go a long way to softening their anger. Then, if it is appropriate, give the client an honest date that you can get the images to her.
- Give the client an extra gift, or image, or print, or something to rebuild their trust.
If a client leaves happy with your work, they may or may not tell others. But if a client leaves unhappy with your work, they will probably tell several others. Starting with good communication and then delighting and surprising your client will keep your business humming, and when you do have a rare upset client, you need to treat them with as much kindness and respect as you can. And when you handle the situation well, you’ll have won your clients hearts back again.
Amy Fraughton and Amy Swaner are the founders of Photo Business Tools, an online site offering business resources for photographers through blog posts, podcasts and downloadable forms.