It’s inevitable, if you work in the photography business you’ve encountered a variety of clients. I will say the majority are amazing to work with, but there is the occasional difficult client. Whether they’re just a bit “needy” or they want the extra communication or are just plain rude. We’re going to cover how to respond to difficult clients when you’re caught in these situations.
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My associate team and I have had people asking or demanding for raw images. Have you ever been there? I’m sure you have. We’ve had clients that really enjoyed the over communication. For example, they would email and text all the things constantly and if we didn’t reply immediately then they were frustrated. As a business we have boundaries in place to keep my team healthy. We try setting office hours and have autoresponders. Regardless, it seems there are always 1 or 2 clients that threaten a bad review. This hasn’t happened often so don’t stress! My associate team shoots in such high volume there are bound to be a few tricky situations. So how do you respond to difficult clients?
Here’s something to remember: odds are the person isn’t coming after you personally. I know our work feels like an extension of ourselves, but remember to clients, most of the time they only see the work. The problem may be in or out of your control, so removing yourself emotionally will help tremendously! When you get that uncomfortable text or email – pause. Take a breath and give yourself some space. Another thing I’ll do is write my response and have someone look it over. This way if there is some emotion peeking through someone else can spot it.
Contracts are here to protect you! Don’t try arguing back and forth. You should be using a contract for every single session. It doesn’t matter if it’s a full session or mini session of family, friends or strangers. If you don’t have a contract I have one called Portrait Contract Template. It was approved by a lawyer so everything inside it legit. It covers you and your clients and is customizable so you can reuse it for every and any session! So when you have a dispute about raw images or delivery time you can refer to the contract that they signed!
Never let anyone bully you or threaten taking you to court. Use your contract and be firm. You can still be kind while being firm. The more confidence you use and holding your ground the more likely they are to let it go. Some clients are going to fight just to fight. If you have things in place that they’ve signed off on you can hold that to them. I know this is much easier said than done, but when you’re doing things right it’s easier to stand up for yourself!
Keep in mind, most people that threaten to write a bad review won’t actually write it. They’re trying to use that as leverage to win in those situations. What kind of compromise can you come up with? Are they asking for a refund on their session? Issue the refund even if your contract says the retainer was non-refundable. Sometimes it’s worth refunding to avoid getting into it. Truly this is a judgement call. You can stick to your contract and be very black and white or you can have some leniency to win someone over.
For starters, reply to the review! If people are searching and see a bad review they will also see your side of the story. State the facts, be professional and make things clear. Your response will show you care and that the review is most likely… crazy! After you reply you need to block the person from your business page. You don’t want to leave room for a back and forth. You should already be having conversations via email so there’s no reason to publicize it.
Overall, stay professional, be concise, and be clear in your communication! Keep your emotion out of it so that you’re responding in the best ways that you can. Ultimately, you get to choose how you respond to difficult clients. I hope these tips help and be sure to check out the links mentioned below!
Remove emotion from the situation (8:14)
Always refer back to your contract (10:22)
Speak with confidence and hold your ground (12:55)
Compromise to avoid bad reviews (14:18)
You can recover after a bad review (15:29)
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