We’ve all come across them – the brides to be who think that when they hire your services you become their servant – dedicated entirely to meeting their every demand.
The girl who orders personalised stationery, changes her mind after delivery and insists she is entitled to a full refund. The bride who thinks nothing of ringing her planner at 11pm. The couple who are adamant they want the cheapest option – then complain because it’s not as good as the Platinum product.
Here are some strategies to help you cope with bridezillas, groomzillas (and their mothers!):
The “checking up on you every day” client
This customer just can’t let go and leave it to the professional – they bombard you with emails, phone calls and if you have a shop they always seem to be “just passing”.
With emails be disciplined and reply once a day covering all the points from however many they have sent. Don’t get into email conversations by replying immediately.
For telephone calls, again try not to get into a detailed conversation – tell them you have made a note of whatever it is and will deal with it. Have a cut-off time after which you don’t answer calls and use voice mail or call screening when possible. If they leave a voice mail, try emailing rather than calling them back.
It’s harder to get rid of personal callers, but be polite and let them know you have urgent things you need to do.
In all cases, be as businesslike as possible. You may need to invent a reason to cut short the discussion – an appointment, an urgent telephone call, a delivery. You can also try the same approach – keep a list of every little detail, update it daily and email it to the customer to show her how professional and in control you are. With a bit of luck this will reassure her that she can trust you.
The “I need it now” client
They’ve left it to the last minute and now it’s urgent (typically orders of service for a wedding next Saturday in my experience). You are booked up solidly. This one is easy – if you can possibly squeeze it in then say “Gosh, that’s really soon. We are very busy at the moment but I can get it done by date – there will be an additional charge for express service of xx.” If you can’t squeeze it in then just politely say no, we are fully booked.
Under no circumstances squeeze it in (by working all hours of the night and day and ignoring your other clients) – without making them pay for the privilege.
The upset/angry/unhappy client
Firstly, try to understand why they feel the way they do. They may have a genuine reason and you need to be honest both with them and yourself. A wedding is such a special occasion and everyone involved can get very emotional.
If you have messed up, admit your mistake, apologise (once) and then move on to provide a solution.
If they are being unreasonable then you need to stay calm and be professional – you can empathise – “I’m sorry you feel like that” – without being apologetic.
If someone is being really abusive on the phone, then you need to end the conversation. Say something like “I really want to help you and resolve this, but only when you are able to discuss it calmly – I will call you back tomorrow” Never get into an argument with someone who is out of control. If someone is being abusive and threatening in person, walk away, get help and/or call the police.
The “I know my rights” client
They ordered a bespoke item and something isn’t to their liking (or the wedding is off) and they insist they are entitled to a full refund and/or compensation. If you don’t they will report you, sue you, make sure you never work again…..
No matter how much you refer them to your terms and conditions they just won’t listen. You basically have 2 choices: stick to your principles and wait for them to do their worst, or give in to get rid of them.
However much you hate the idea, sometimes the latter is your best option. It depends on the value involved, of course, but unless you are sure you are legally 100% in the right and can cope with potentially weeks or months of stress and uncertainty, then it may be best to let it go. Don’t think of it as giving in – its about prioritising and making a rational decision on what is best for your business.
Don’t be afarid to “sack” a client if the situation is becoming impossible – just do so in as calm and professional a way as possible. And keep reminding yourself that 99% of bridal customers are lovely and a pleasure to work with.