How to Handle Unhappy Clients in 4 Steps

Image by The Hendrys

You don’t have control over how your clients react to final photographs, but you do have control over how you fix the situation. As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone. This is true for every realm of business, wedding photography included. At some point in your career, you will or already have had to deal with unhappy clients.

If you find yourself in this position now, you’re not alone. First, take a deep breath. Some clients can be surprisingly mean—we get it. Then, step outside and get some fresh air to clear your head before we get started. We’re here to help! We’re equipping you with the tools to handle unhappy wedding photography clients in a calm and professional manner. 

The Value Of Good And Bad Feedback 

Feedback is crucial to the growth of any business. That’s why our business advice is full of ways to ask for immediate feedback from couples. Whether it’s good or bad, feedback provides the opportunity to learn. Sure, everyone loves exceptional reviews. But it’s important to receive both positive and negative feedback to grow your business and make your customer’s experience that much better. 

That doesn’t mean that negative feedback doesn’t sting. It probably will. Keep in mind that bad feedback gives you the opportunity to learn. Learning is good! So, now that you’ve received negative feedback from unhappy clients, what comes next?

Step 1. Adjust Your Outlook 

If you’re feeling upset after receiving criticism from a couple not happy with their wedding photos, it’s okay. We give you full permission to feel disappointed. When you pour your heart and soul into your craft, it’s hard not to take criticism personally. But, negative feedback is unavoidable. Eventually and unfortunately, it’ll happen to you.

Instead of staying down in the dumps, use it as an opportunity and challenge to turn a negative situation into a positive customer experience

Recommended reading: Self-Care Tips for Wedding Photographers

Step 2. Listen To Your Unhappy Clients

To fully understand exactly what they don’t like about their wedding photographs, start by actively listening to your unhappy clients. Make your clients feel heard, acknowledged, and prioritized. To do this, communication will be the key to success. Although it may be difficult, it’s best to do this on the phone or in-person. 

When you’re listening, make sure to reiterate their complaints and end the conversation by asking clarifying questions. When you have a clear understanding of why they’re upset, you can then formulate and present a solution that works for both parties. 

Step 3. Present A Solution And Take Action

Reassess the images and ask your clients what they feel could be done to rectify the situation. Then work together on a solution that works for both you and your clients. This is your chance to take action and redeem your client’s negative experience. 

Depending on your clients’ complaints, sometimes it can be easily fixed in the editing process. For example, if your client’s unhappy with the saturation levels or flyaway hairs these are issues that can be easily touched up. 

If you need extra time to brainstorm some solutions, end your phone call by saying you’ll get back to them with a solution in a day or two. If you opt for this, make sure you follow up on the timeline you set.

Step 4. Improve Your Business Strategy

As your wedding photography business continues to grow and evolve, your workflow and strategy will need to adapt. Updating your business strategy regularly will allow you to maximize your efficiency and create a top-notch experience for every client.

After dealing with unhappy clients, reflect back on the situation to figure out where you went wrong. Maybe you need to update your contracts. Maybe you need to create a pre-wedding questionnaire to better understand your clients’ wants and desires. Making these behind-the-scenes improvements will protect you and your future clients from becoming unhappy clients. 

People are passionate about sharing their positive and negative experiences. Because referrals are an important part of growing a business it’s crucial to communicate and appease unhappy clients. 

If you’re in search of ways to prevent difficult customer situations, we’ve got you covered. Check out these client experience tips and tricks that’ll provide you with the necessary knowledge to create above and beyond customer service experience, from beginning to end. 

(2) comments

  1. Sarah

    This was amazing, thanks for taking the time to write it out. You mentioned you request immediate feedback (pos and neg) and had “our business advice” hyperlinked. I was hoping to find out if you share the questions you use in your request for feedback? Is it a survey? Is it in an email or a google/ CRM form? thanks again, super helpful.

    • morgan

      Hi Sarah,

      We don’t have that live right now, but that’s a great idea! We’ll be publishing immediate feedback best practices next month—stay tuned.

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