Owning your own wedding photography business–or any business for that matter–means that there will be a time when you come across an unhappy client. Unfortunately, unsatisfied clients typically lead to poor online reviews, too. While you may not be able to control your client’s responses, you can control how you deal with the bad review.
Before doing anything rash, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this happens to everyone. We understand that people can get mean, but responding in a calm, level-headed manner is a must. And to do so, you may need to take a walk around the block or meditate before you respond–that’s okay! We’re here to help you create your own crisis communication plan so you can keep your feelings out of your responses.
How To Handle A Bad Review Online
Respond In A Timely Manner
If a client is upset enough to leave a review, they usually do it shortly after their negative experience. This is when they are at the peak of their own emotions. Because they are so swift in leaving that feedback for you, there’s a good chance that they are expecting a swift response. But like we mentioned above, avoid responding to it as soon as you read it. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure that you remain cool, calm, and collected.
Gather Your Facts And Thoughts
Before typing up a whirlwind of a paragraph, jot down some notes that include conversations you had with the client, their frustrations, and the timeline in which you worked with them. This will help you make sure that you’ve got your story straight when crafting the actual response. And as we mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to take a walk or do some yoga before gathering these notes. You’re more likely to see things clearly when you’ve taken a moment for yourself.
Acknowledge Their Feelings And Apologize
First and foremost, thank the client for bringing this to your attention. This will help them feel seen and heard. It also shows that you genuinely appreciate their feedback. As a business owner, it’s useful to remember that all feedback is useful–positive and negative. While the criticism may feel harsh, they’re leaving the review as an offer to resolve their issues.
After thanking them, address their concerns, offer a sincere apology, and let them know you’ll be reaching out to them directly with a resolution. You want them to understand that it upsets you that they were left feeling unhappy with your services but you don’t need to give specific details about how you’re handling it to the online world.
Lastly, when addressing them, use their name and recap their specific complaint. Tailoring your responses shows that you are interested in what they have to say.
Take It Offline
While it’s important to address the issue publicly, it’s equally important to take it offline as well. In many instances, a minor issue can be resolved over a quick email exchange or phone call. If you don’t have their contact information, leave your email address or a phone number in your response and let them get in contact with you.
As part of your resolution, you might give them credit for a future shoot with you or a gift card. This step all depends on the problem and how big of an impact it had on the client. Unfortunately, sometimes an apology just isn’t enough. Think creatively and put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, “what would matter to me as the customer?”
Use It As A Learning Experience
After making amends with the unhappy client, take time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can avoid this situation in the future. If you notice that you are getting a lot of similar feedback from different clients, then it’s time to make a change. Wedding photography relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations, so altering your business model to ensure that your couples are left happy will increase your chances of referrals.
How Not To Handle A Bad Review Online
Don’t Get Defensive
Although we’ve made this point multiple times already, it’s worth reiterating. It’s natural to want to defend your work and business–especially if you feel that the review is unfair. However, responding with hostile and defensive language will spiral into something much much bigger. You don’t want to be known as the angry wedding photographer who can’t handle criticism—do you?
If you do respond in a calm, professional manner, but they are still putting up a fight, don’t get swept up in the online battle. Instead, continue to offer to resolve the issue offline. This shows others that you remained reasonable even when the other party was not.
Don’t Avoid It
Avoiding the review is as bad–if not worse–than responding with anger. Not only will the reviewer feel justified in their anger, but it will also have potential new clients wondering if you care at all. They’ll be asking themselves if they’ll be brushed off if they have a less than stellar experience with you.
Example Of A Good Response
No matter how hard you try to be the best wedding photographer there is, a bad review will happen online. Remember this crisis communication plan, and you’ll be able to respond in a level-headed manner that helps you stay professional and resolve the issue.
“Dear (Insert Their Name Here),
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I am sincerely sorry that you had a less than satisfactory experience with me. Would you mind reaching out to me at [insert business email] with more details about the situation? Any more light you could shed on what happened would be much appreciated and would help us find a solution to make things right.
Thank you so much, and I look forward to hearing from you!
All the best,
(Insert Your Name)”
This response is short and sweet yet takes full responsibility for the problem while showing that you are willing to talk with them further to ensure that they are left feeling better.
To ensure that you’re giving your clients the best possible wedding day experience and avoid poor reviews, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to wedding day etiquette!