Let’s be honest here – we all get demanding clients from time to time, especially in the world of Weddings! This is a hugely important and emotional time in a couple’s life, and as a result some clients can be high maintenance. So, when tensions are running high and you’re dealing with a particularly difficult couple (or even supplier or colleague), here are our top tips for keeping things calm and under control.
Above all, look after yourself!
When you are angry you cannot make objective decisions. Same goes for being hungry, tired, cold or just generally miserable. To do your best work, you need to take care of yourself.
If you are feeling a little run down or burnt out, it might mean that any particularly troublesome clients are simply not worth it. See if a colleague can help you manage this client on this occasion. Or, if you’re a freelance or small business owner with no other team members to lend you a hand, it might be worth considering turning this particular piece of business down. If they’re difficult to start with, it’s likely they’ll be difficult throughout the whole process. And with most engagements lasting around 12-18 months, do you really want to be dealing with someone like that for so long? Remember, it’s not just about the client saying yes to you- you can choose whether you want to say yes to them.
If you do want to move forward with this booking, give yourself a little time to step back when that irritating email lands in your inbox. Watch some Netflix, have an early night and deal with it the next morning. You’ll find you’re calmer, more clear headed and are able to review the situation more objectively.
Of course, a solid contract with clearly defined T&Cs are important here. But so too are your actions. If you email, text or call your clients outside of usual working hours, they will feel like it’s okay to hassle you on weekends and evenings. If you start throwing in extra services here and there at no extra charge, they’ll feel like it’s okay to request all kinds of freebies.
Small actions like this can undermine your work and your value. Your clients don’t know how much your time is worth, so it’s up to you to make it clear. Manage their expectations and you’ll have a more positive relationship in the long run.
Know how to say 'no' well.
Part of setting boundaries includes telling clients ‘no’ from time to time. This is a totally acceptable and even necessary part of business, but just make sure you’re doing it the right way. Language that is quite negative or a little sharp, particularly if it’s written in an email, can hurt your relationship. Here’s a few phrases to help you handle this delicately:
Option 1: Try to redirect the client’s request - ‘Well, what we can do is…’
Option 2: Provide alternatives – ‘I can offer you this instead…’
Option 3: Say no, but provide a reasonable explanation – ‘The reason I don’t offer this is because…’
Don’t make promises you can’t keep or don’t have control over.
This is surprisingly easy to do. Couples are looking for reassurance that their wedding day is going to be perfect, so they’ll likely ask you every question they can about what’s a possibility or even what could go wrong. It’s easy to get wrapped up in this by telling them what they want to hear. But, it’s worth being careful. Sometimes things do go wrong. And sometimes you can’t deliver what they want, on the budget they have. There’s a fine line between keeping your client calm and excited, and over promising in a way that’s bound to cause problems later down the line.
Yes, the email you just received might be a little unfair or over the top. But, the fuel behind their comments might be stress, frustration and exhaustion. Wedding planning is an emotionally charged task, so listen to what they’re saying, acknowledge the issue they’re facing and work with them to find a solution. Your most difficult clients might be your best review!
Even if one of your couples are hurling abuse at you, it’s important to remain calm, polite and in control. This is far more likely to bring the conversation back round to a more professional and relaxed tone, then getting heated yourself.
If things get really bad, calmly tell them that ‘I understand you are frustrated and I want to help, but I am not prepared to tolerate being spoken to in this manner.’ You are a human being trying to do your job, you do not have to blindly accept this kind of behaviour.
Dealing with difficult clients is never easy but, when handled in the right way, your "difficult clients" can become your "best clients"! It’s all about how you manage their experience and how you maintain a positive relationship. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed that you don’t get too many tricky people coming your way, anyway.