May I see a show of hands for those who have never had a difficult session. (If you started your business yesterday, go ahead and put your hands down.)
Now, may I see a show of hands for those who have never had a frustrating client situation. (Again, those of you brand new, drop those hands. You cheeky monkeys, you.)
Holy smokes, not a single hand. But I knew that, because the real world is filled with less than ideal situations: moments where all is going downhill faster than an Olympic skier and you think to yourself, “Holy heck. What am I going to do?” Your mind is racing; you feel pinpricks of anxiety at the base of your skull, and your mind is nothing but fog.
And your heart is beating so fast you are sure it’s going to pop out of your chest.
You know what I’m talking about:
The rain rolls in when you have ONE afternoon to shoot an outdoor session and the client wants sunshine
The new client you want to impress walks in with a baby that cries and cries and cries and cries
The family session with the one family member that does NOT want to be there
The client who wants to take part of her order without paying for all of her order because she was sure she could do that
The client calling to check on the order YOU FORGOT TO ORDER
The session that reschedules and reschedules and reschedules…
That “thing” that fell through the cracks and wasn’t taken care of
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you know this feeling. It ain’t good, is it? And you like to think those moments will disappear with years of experience, but, they don’t. Sure, if you learn from past mistakes, they do indeed lessen and become fewer and farther between.
But still, they happen.
And when they do, you work hard to make the best of a bad situation.
And you do this to make the client happy. Because isn’t that the goal; that clients should be valued and made to feel special? I mean, WE are clients, ourselves; isn’t that what we want when WE are the consumer?
And when you complain about clients online, well, that doesn’t help anyone. Because while it may feel good to you in the moment to complain, there’s a very good chance that online rant will get back to the client. And even if it doesn’t, others will watch it and worry, because they figure if they use your services, THEY could be next. And if you are someone who teaches other photographers (ie. workshopping) then you run the risk of new photographers thinking this is an okay thing to do.
Listen, I understand frustration. I get it. There are moments in my life where I have had to go to the bathroom, shed a few tears, and splash water on my face before getting back out there to deal with the issue at hand.
But that’s how it works.
See, when you are in a business that involves working with clients, then, well, you have to work with clients. Shocker, right? And clients come to us with all sorts of invisible baggage attached–that baggage includes every time they were hurt, disappointed or felt unappreciated. When you work with a client, you are up against every customer service experience that client has ever had. And sometimes, you are on the receiving end of that last bad experience they encountered and it’s up to you to change that.
And when you handle it well, everything shifts. YOU become the person who listened. YOU become the person who cared. YOU become the person who earns their trust. Does it always happen that way? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you don’t try.
See, problems with clients will happen. It’s part and parcel of doing business. There’s no escaping that. So treat your clients well, don’t talk about them behind their backs, and appreciate that of all the studios out there, they came to YOU.