By Shonda Feather

Have you ever dealt with an angry client? Did you feel you handled their issue correctly? In other words, are they still your client? Sure, sometimes we want to believe that the client is wrong. Right? If you’ve ever worked in retail, we learn that the customer is always right. Why? Because companies are built by customers. You all know that if you make one customer angry, they have the potential to tell their friends {and in today’s social media world, that could be thousands}. Most cases of conflict arise because of a misunderstanding or something didn’t get communicated correctly.

Right now I want you to get a pen and a piece of paper and I want you to write down the first 5 words that come to mind when you hear the word ‘CONFLICT’.  We will come back to your 5 words in a little bit. Right now, I’m going to explain what you SHOULD do in the event you have an angry client.

  1. LISTEN – This one is very important! Let the client vent. Let them tell you why they are angry. They want to be acknowledged and know that they are being listened to. If the client is venting in person, maintain eye contact and stand or sit up straight. Never cross your arms – this shows defiance and that you are not listening with an open mind.
  2. MAINTAIN CONTROL OF YOURSELF – The first thing we want to do is defend our business but don’t lose control. If you lose control, then you’ve lost control of the situation and you’ve lost the client.
  3. SHOW YOU CARE – Let the client know that you are sorry for their feelings. Your voice should be calm and your body language {again, no crossed arms} should communicate a sincere and interested attitude.
  4. DON’T BLAME THE CLIENT – Sure, you sent the client your studio policies, price list and had your pre-consultation. And they signed every piece of paper put in front of them. Yet they are angry that they didn’t know that the digital files weren’t inclusive in the session fee until the viewing and ordering appointment. We’ve all glossed over contracts before we’ve signed on the dotted line. Is it their fault that they signed something they didn’t read. Of course. But it’s also our fault if we didn’t have a verbal consultation on the pricing and just assumed they read everything.
  5. SOLVE & SAVE THE CLIENT – After you’ve heard the client vent, tell the client how you can help. You can politely show them the contracts they signed, but then offer a solution such as a payment plan to help with the cost {even if you don’t have one}. “We did list on the contract that digitals were not inclusive of the session fee and I’m truly sorry that you’re upset. I’d be happy to offer you a payment plan as well as a free Facebook file for each print purchase.” Remember, find a way to save the client! Help the situation as best as you can.

Best practices in any business should be keeping happy clients! This is a big part of branding {I bet you thought your brand was your logo, right?}. Your brand is everything that has to do with your company and customer experiences are a HUGE part of your brand. Learn how to create exceptional client experiences and you’ll have a hard time finding an angry client.

And another thing, if you’ve got an angry client, DON’T deal with them through email or messenger. ALWAYS pick up the phone or meet them in person.

Remember those 5 words I had you jot down earlier? Here are some common words people think of when they hear the word ‘CONFLICT’ –

  • Drama
  • Angry
  • Fight
  • Battle
  • War

These words ring true when you have an angry client. How many of you wrote down things like –

  • Listening
  • Coaching and developing
  • Communication
  • Resolve
  • Solution

Congratulations, you’ve dealt with conflict before and you’ve learned how to resolve it. Coaching and developing is important for studio owners who have employees. You’re not always going to be there, and your employees may encounter an irate client. Your employees are part of your brand too! Train them on how to deal with upset clients so you don’t end up hearing an earful about an employee who argued back and didn’t listen. It’s also okay for the employee to tell the client that they are sorry for whatever they are upset about and you {the owner} will contact them back within 24 hours {never delay – solve the issue as quickly as possible}.

And if you ever have to deal with an angry client and resolve it successfully – at the end of the day go home, kick your feet up and have a glass of wine. Being yelled at is never fun. But remember that you still made the sale, got their money and saved the client.


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