It's a given that as you plan more and more weddings you'll come across difficult clients.
I know you know the ones I'm talking about: know-it-alls, fault finders…
But the most difficult of them all is the angry bride. She's emotional, she's upset and she's angry…about something you did or didn't do.
Working with difficult and angry clients sucks all the fun out of planning weddings and you can find yourself upset for days (ask me how I know this?!).
But if you can handle an angry bride, you can handle just about anything that the professional wedding planning world throws at you.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Listen (no, really listen)
Instead of thinking about how you're going to respond to your bride's complaint (which clearly means you're NOT listening), zone out everything else around you so that you can hear what it is she has to say.
2. Don't Go There!
Okay, I know how difficult it is to maintain composure and respect when she's yelling at you and ‘carrying on'. But, remember this:
YOU have the power (super-hero that you are!).
And by this, I mean: You are NOT angry; you ARE in control.
If you forget this and start reacting in an emotional manner, you will lose control and lose all that power. And when that happens the situation will boil over into a very bad experience. Not good!
3. Don't Interrupt
Let her vent. Once she gets it all off her chest, it'll be easier for you to determine the real source of her frustration. Pay attention to her words…not her tone. Once you master this skill, you're halfway there.
And whatever you do, don't tell her to calm down! I always wince when I witness customer service personnel telling an enraged customer to “Calm down!” (Why do people do that?) That's the last thing an angry person wants to hear. It almost always has the opposite effect.
4. Empathy Goes a Long Way!
Empathy basically means putting yourself in your client's shoes and seeing things from her point of view.
Remember, planning a wedding is an emotional and very personal experience. If a bride has her heart set on a white Bentley to drive her and her new husband away after the ceremony and for whatever reason that doesn't happen, there's a good chance that you're going to witness a meltdown of epic proportions.
5. Wait…then Respond
Once your client has had a chance to vent, things are going to die down quite a bit. This is when you step in.
Try to calm yourself first (take several deep breaths) and acknowledge her feelings.
You might say something like: ‘I'm sorry this has happened.'
And by the way, saying sorry does not mean it's your fault (unless it really is).
Let her know that, ‘I would be upset, too.'
Once your client realizes that you really do have her best interest at heart, and she's calming down, she'll slowly, but surely, begin to interact with you in a positive (read: reasonable) manner.
Only now can you begin to work out a solution.
6. Walk Away if You Have To
But, if you determine that your client is too difficult to deal with, it may be time to leave the relationship. It's not a very pleasant experience. But don't forget why you started your business in the first place.
Most wedding planners are passionate and truly love what they do. The bottom line is that no one has the right to take that passion and joy away from you.
Once you decide to terminate your relationship with a client, act with haste (remember the wedding date is approaching).
- Evaluate the hours you've invested in the wedding planning process and be prepared to refund fees (and, perhaps, cut your losses), if applicable.
- Then, get in touch with your client(s). Maybe start of by saying something like:
“I want our professional relationship to work, but it seems like you're unhappy with my performance.”
This gives your bride an opportunity to address her difficult behavior. She may either apologize or agree that parting ways is the best thing for both of you. Either way, stick to your decision, but don't burn bridges.
- Put the cancellation in writing and offer to help her find another professional wedding planner. As a courtesy, let the ‘new' planner know that you're referring a difficult client–just don't bad-mouth her!
Once you figure out how to deal with an angry client, you'll feel much more comfortable and confident as you move forward in your wedding planner career.