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How to Deal with an Angry Customer in 6 Simple Steps

how to deal with an angry customer

In a previous post, ShootDotEdit Pro, Vanessa Joy, shared about how you can implement processes and systems into your photography business to create and maintain happy couples. Today, she will share how to deal with an angry customer in 6 simple steps. Keep reading to learn Vanessa’s insights.

Vanessa Joy Headshot

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How to deal with an angry customer

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you end up either accidentally messing something up, or a client is simply not satisfied with you for a reason you couldn’t anticipate. When this happens, it’s important to remember that it does happen and to treat it as an occupational hazard that will undoubtedly occur at one time or another. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many business owners have to learn how to deal with angry customers. But what draws the line between mediocre and amazing businesses is not if you have a problem, but how you handle one when it arises. Here are 6 steps to help you learn how to deal with an angry customer.

beach engagement photography

Image by Vanessa Joy Photography

1. Don’t take it personally

It’s only natural to take everything a client says or feels to heart at first because we’ve invested so much of our time and artistic souls into trying to make them happy. Regardless of that, try to separate your emotions from the problem as much as possible. Not only will this help your stress level given the situation, but it will help you think more rationally about how to fix it and move on with your business and life.

Related: Wondering how to deal with an angry or irate customer? These tips for better body language can help! 

2. Don’t be defensive

Guilty! I know that my first inclination is to defend and justify my actions when someone is addressing an issue with me, whether in business or in life. However, justifying yourself to your customer is only going to make them angrier because what they want in complaining to you is to feel validated for why they’re upset. You have to be the bigger person here.

3. Communicate better

Since a lot of frustration comes from a lack of communication, when dealing with a problem a customer is having, try to better that communication. This may mean that a phone call or meeting is necessary because we all know how emails can be misconstrued. When you do speak to them, ask them to tell you their story and why they’re upset. Let them get it all out, without interrupting. Pay attention and nod to let them know you understand.

When they’re finished, ask questions. Then, tell them something like this, “I can see you are upset about___________. Is that correct?” This lets them know you heard and understood them, and you have a clear grasp of the problem.

Related: How can you eliminate confusion and send a clear message to customers for your wedding photography business?

4. Apologize

“The customer is always right” phrase is wrong, and we all know it. But you can make them feel validated in why they’re upset anyway by apologizing to them. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not a doormat and absolutely shouldn’t apologize for something you didn’t do wrong.

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However, a simple phrase like “I understand why you’re so upset and I’m very sorry that this is happening” can diffuse a customer’s anger without telling them they’re right about something that they’re not.

5. Make it right – quickly

Your goal should be to solve the problem as best and as quickly as you can. The longer the customer sits there stewing, the angrier she will become and the harder it will be to please her. Neither you nor the customer really wants to be unhappy for a long, drawn out period of time, so the faster you can resolve the issue, the better it is for everyone involved. A way to speed this up is to simply ask “What can I do to make this right for you?” 9 times out of 10 their request won’t be unreasonable, but if it is, simply say, “I can’t do that, but I can do ______, ______ or _______. Which would make you happiest?”

6. Overcompensate

If all you do is fix the problem, then all you’ve done is justify the customer’s issue with you and you haven’t transformed her negative thinking about your company into positive thinking. You want to get your customer to be delighted with you again and a great way to do that is to overcompensate. This doesn’t necessarily mean overcompensate in the way you fix the problem. It could mean that you throw in a free canvas or buy them a surprise gift thanking them for their patience while this issue was resolved. It’ll mean the world to your customer knowing that you value you them so much. It’s worth the money and time spent knowing that your customer will rave about you to her friends again rather than complain about you.

Ideally, you’ll want to make sure that your business is loaded with amazing customer service that will help deter problems before they start. Here’s how I operate my studio to make sure that my customers are happy and value what I do as a NYC Wedding Photographer.

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When you learn how to deal with an angry customer, you can create a positive experience for them. With the steps Vanessa listed above, you can create happy customers who are more likely to refer you to others. Find out additional wedding photography business tips to help you increase bookings with our Secrets to Getting Booked Guide!

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