I hate thinking about what might go wrong during or after the wedding. I want to imagine every single one of our brides and grooms as overwhelmingly happy and completely satisfied.
But what do you do if that doesn’t work out?
The groom emailed to add the ceremony performance onto his reception entertainment. In my response, I explained that the fee would be $250.
“You quoted us $150!” he complained. “It’s on our contract.”
I explained that since this was an offsite ceremony, it requires a separate set up, extra travel time and an additional fee.
The groom was not happy. Neither were we.
Bad News Spreads Fast
The consumer has a lot of power in this day and age. With the internet, one bad review can go viral, and a bride can tell all her friends how horrible you were with a single Facebook post.
The media has been known for its scathing warnings of wedding markups and ripoffs (see the recent 20/20 Wedding Confidential episode for an example) and brides are encouraged to use their power by posting bad reviews and notifying the Better Business Bureau.
Of course, these organizations exist to protect the consumer, and that’s a positive thing. But what do you do when the disgruntled customer is yours?
After looking at our contract, I realized that the ceremony pricing WAS misleading. I called the groom, apologized and offered to honor the price of $150. He accepted.
The ceremony and reception went off without a hitch. The couple was so pleased that they tipped us…more than the additional amount they should have paid for an offsite ceremony. The bride’s mother who worked for a local newspaper, posted a rave review of our services and sent us a handwritten thank you note.
Soothe the Savage ‘Zilla
When managing customer conflicts, it’s your job to make it right, even if it’s not your fault.
I know. It’s not fair. But your livelihood and reputation are too precious to let one unhappy customer place a stain on it that cannot be removed. Make it your goal to turn the situation around and make it right, even if it hurts a little.
Follow these steps to resolve conflicts with customers quickly and easily.
1. Communicate clearly and honestly with the client in person or on the phone. Listen first, feedback their complaint and try to reach an understanding.So often wedding vendors are so afraid of conflict they avoid the interaction and it only gets worse. The quickest way to resolve a customer complaint is with clear, honest communication.
2. Honestly assess the truth of the complaint. If you made even the slightest mistake or if your communication was even a littleunclear, accept responsibility, APOLOGIZE and find a way to make it right.This is not the time to stubbornly stick to the letter of your contract. If you were at all at fault, accept accountability and make it right.
3. If you are completely blameless in the complaint and you are unable to resolve it with clear communication, but the client is still very upset, make an offer to smooth things over.Swallow your pride and give them something: a partial refund, an extra freebie. Even though they don’t deserve it, the small expense is worth avoiding the bad press.
4. Learn from the experience. Modify your contract (like we did after our ceremony pricing issue) or improve your communication. Put a structure into place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Following these steps should avoid any public flaming and malicious bad reviews about your wedding business. Everyone makes mistakes; not everyone has the courage and the wisdom to make them right.
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart
How do you handle angry customers?