As wedding planners and professionals, we tend to deal with people who are at a…shall we say heightened emotional state? Even the smallest snafu can send engaged couples over the angry-customer edge. And, when we receive that pushback or negative feedback from our couples, it’s no surprise that we can feel attacked and want to immediately let our fingers lose on our keyboard in response (ajfkjsf;dkljfds!)—telling them exactly why they’re wrong. As business owners, though, we obviously have to take a more professional approach (we know—it is so not fun). Today, then, we’ve broken down four simple steps you can follow when a client is upset with you. Take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine, and namaste your way through the following checklist.
Getting to the root of any issue always involves communication. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, force yourself to pick up the phone (after you’ve had time to cool down, of course) to hear, in their words, what they’re upset about. They may have sent you an email or a text letting you know they were upset—but if their schedule permits, you should always respond with a phone call. Texts and emails can add another layer of confusion and miscommunication onto an already convoluted situation.
Once you have a clear idea of what it is your client is upset about, take some time to evaluate their issue. Maybe there’s something there—an email you misread or a phone call you missed. Go back through previous communications, to-do lists, calendar items, etc. to see if you can identify the root of their issue. If the mistake took place on their part, it’s important to get to the root of that as well. Maybe there’s an email from you they never responded to or an item on their checklist they didn’t complete in time which then led to the mistake you made. Remember—you’re not an attorney; you don’t want to build a case against your client to then throw the evidence in their face (wouldn’t that be fun, though—let’s imagine for a moment.) This step is more so for your own peace of mind. When you understand what went wrong—regardless of whether it was your fault or theirs—it’s much easier to find a solution and avoid similar issues in the future.
Alright, you understand their issue and you’ve identified the catalyst for it. Now’s the time to clear things up with them. If the issue was caused by their lack of follow through or not seeing an email you sent, you can (nicely and gracefully) remind them of that or forward them an old email they missed with a nice note. Again, you never want to throw evidence in their face…but you do want to simply clarify that the root of the issue was caused by X. If, on the other hand, the issue was caused by you (something you let fall through the cracks or a checklist item you didn’t get to in time, etc.), now’s your time to apologize. Don’t make excuses, but do let them know you’re human—you let something slide, you shouldn’t have, you appreciate them bringing it to your attention and you can promise it won’t happen again.
Last comes deciding where you go from here. Obviously, your solution will vary depending on the issue at hand and where you’re at in their wedding timeline. Maybe it’s a brand-new client who completely lost their cool with you for absolutely no reason and you’d like to end the relationship as a result (we don’t blame you)—take a look at your contract and decide what your best bet will be for terminating the relationship (keeping in mind the negative reviews that could ensue). Maybe, it was a minor mistake on your part and the solution is simply to send your couple on a date-night for the stress your error caused them (killing them with kindness is always a great idea). Maybe you get super cheeky with it and send them a basket of their favorite sweets with a note that says something like “Sorry for the sour week!” Maybe, the client wants to end the relationship with you and there’s nothing you can do about it—that’s fine, too. Consult your contract, charge them any fees the contract calls for (if you feel it’s appropriate), and go your separate ways.
Overall, there’s no one answer of what to do when a client is upset with you—but there are some simple, overarching steps you can take to ensure you understand the root of the problem, are clear about how you can avoid it in the future, and can come up with a (hopefully) simple solution to appease your client and keep your dignity and business in tact. Cheers, Aisle Planners, to taking control of the customer service narrative this month!