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Tips & Tricks

How To Handle Angry Clients

By Kishore Sawh on April 3rd 2016

If you are anything of a biography reader, a historian maybe, you may have come to realize that in the world of successful brands, especially of luxury brands, there is often a man atop the organization who’s a bit larger than life. These men, if nothing else, were incredibly successful visionaries and my God, were they ever full of quotable soundbites that showed their eccentricities and flare.

Many of those soundbites could be applied to their outlook on their business and the running of it, especially regarding clients. Enzo Ferrari quipped, “…the customer is not always right,” and Ettore Bugatti was remembered for saying, “Nothing is too beautiful or too expensive.” In this way, we as photographers may have a thing or two to learn from them. Maybe. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Gandhi’s perspective on customer relations,

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

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Perhaps a tempering of all of these ideologies is what we all should strive to, and it likely helps to keep in mind when we are dealing with difficult clients, or clients who have become unhappy or even hostile. Our own Miguel Quiles, together with fashion photographer Jeff Rojas, sat down to chat this one through, about ways to deal with an angry client and share from their own experience in various fields of photography. The advice takes some thought to settle in, but give it the time because invariably you find yourself in these scenarios – you will never make everyone happy.

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When a client is unhappy, especially in this day of open content and social media, we are hyper aware that any disgruntled client could spread the word about us, true or not, like wildfire over the internet, and that can have dire consequences for you and your business. It pays to have some preparation for dealing with these conflicts, but by coming at it from a thoughtful and intelligent perspective. Confrontation will always occur, but how do you diffuse it? You can’t always have your way but neither can the client, and you’ve got to know when to temper.

[REWIND: WEDDING WORKSHOP ONE | COMMUNICATION, PLANNING, & HAPPY CLIENTS: DISCUSSING THE TIMELINE | PART 1]

You can see what the two have to say in the video, but I would absolutely suggest any photographer today to treat client interaction like you would a job interview – do 80% of the work before you even walk in the door. The work, in this sense, is to have your own affairs in order, with the right paperwork, legal knowledge, and attitude; Be prepared by educating clients before your work commences, and ensuring they’ve understood the gamut of the processes and expectations. There’s never been a more transparent time in history, and thus never a better time to be a decent person – and if you’re not, people will find out quickly.

You can see more of Miguel’s articles here, and his work on his site, and more from Jeff here.

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

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  1. Callib Carver

    I can’t say I’ve ever had an angry client. However, I have had some difficult perspective clients. One had a project that had some legal grey areas, as far as copyright goes and when I addressed them with him and said that we can’t just use certain aspects without getting permission from the copyright owners, he became angry and then told me that he can do whatever he wants. Suffice to say we didn’t work together.

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