Unhappy clients


TPF Noob!
Nov 7, 2015
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I have been shooting family sessions for about one month now, and had some successful online deals purchased by people. I got raving reviews from my clients which encouraged me but as they say, there's a first for everything. Today, I had no shoots scheduled, however, I received a mean text message from a client saying he was at the location (we had discussed) with his spouse, and that they had been waiting for me. I checked my calendar immediately and realized his photoshoot was NEXT week. I sent him a screen shot of that and told him there was a misunderstanding. He then told me I was wrong and that he was 'done' and blah blah. What happened was, we scheduled a date and time, and a week later, I called him to see if I could please change his session date to a different one. This was all a month before the scheduled shoot btw. He seemed to be a bit rude on the phone but he agreed and said ok fine, and that was that. Today proved that he did not change the date at his end and showed up on the date/time we had changed. Anyway, feeling bad, I apologized to him and offered him a free session. He and his spouse then sent me a very nasty text saying no.
I know it was not entirely my fault but I feel so bad.
Welcome to the business world!
Perhaps a follow-up email would be a good idea to any phone conversations from now on. You could print out the responses and put them in the file with the contracts and other legal documents for that client.
Along with "there's a first time for everything, consider also the equally old saying, "you can't please everyone".

As I've mentioned on this forum, I have worked for over three decades in high end electronics sales. I am still employed in a service industry job. People can be very rude when you are in a position where you take their money. Even when they come to you, you are seen either as an adversary or as a peon.

Also add to your list of truisms, "Perception is reality". We all see the world from our point of view and no matter who was right or wrong in your perception, it would be an uphill fight to prove to this client what was actually agreed to. Without a signed contract stating a specific time and date, you have nothing really to fall back on.

You might take away from this experience the lesson to always follow up with a client when changes are made to a previous agreement. Email a note to ensure they are on the same page as you feel was agreed upon. Then you have something to go back to when change orders are made. Verbal agreements and handshakes are no longer sufficient.

We now live in a society where there are a few individuals always looking for a reason to be outraged.

Rudeness comes with that perception of you as less than them. Till the day I pass from this Earth, I will never forget the one client who, after I had greeted him warmly, looked at me and said, "I'm going to make this the worst day of your life", and then proceeded to do his best to achieve that end for the next six months. Ironically, his name was Mr. Angel. He proved to be anything but.

I've dealt with clients who want the impossible (and always want it immediately, if not sooner) and then found myself on the end of completely scathing reviews when they are (unreasonably) dissatisfied. Your client will probably do the same to you. In today's on line based market, there's nothing much you can do about one bad review. If there is only the one bad review, most reasonable people will understand the issues of unreasonable demands.

Look at the one star reviews of cameras. There will always be the person who gives the lowest grade to a product because they felt it was too difficult to, say, thread a UV filter onto the front of the lens. So the entire camera gets downgraded. We all see that as irrational and not the fault of the camera manufacturer. You have to do the same with your own on line reviews. They are what they are.

Most people I've known who have made a career of working with the public enjoy their job because no two clients are exactly the same. The best you can do at this point is forget this incident if you are convinced you were not at fault. There will be more like this client if you stay in this field. And there will be clients who make your job a true pleasure. Until the former begins to outnumber the latter, you have to eat your broccoli too.
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Part of being in business is knowing when to fire a customer. If the customer is not a fit that makes money for the business then you just have to fire them and move on.
I would of said I'm sorry there was a misunderstanding and BYE, have a nice day.
Lesson learned. If changing dates that far in advance, consider communicating via email instead of a phone call so the change will be on the record.
People forget if they don't have it written down, people really forget if they do write it down on their calendar and don't change the date if it has been changed. Every time they look at their calendar it sinks in a little deeper that they have an appointment. It sucks that they became upset by it all, I don't believe that you have to offer them anything as the appointment was changed and it becomes their responsibility, not yours. This kind of thing happens, and it may happen again.

No different than me showing up for a doctors appointment that had been changed, not only did I get the time wrong, I got that date wrong as well, that's on me.

Just move one and in future a phone call early and a follow up email on the changes is usually the best bet.
+1 always follow up in writing in an email or text so you have back up. It sounds to me like you did everything right and I would not pursue them any further. My hunch is they got cold feet for some other reason and wanted a dramatic way out.

A couple thoughts on customer service from years of experience.

1, The customer is not always right, sometimes they need educating.
2, You can lead a customer to a solution but you can't make them take it.
3, Do your job the best you can, and never take the outcome personally.

You nailed 1 and 2 so now embrace 3 and let it go. There is no benefit to letting it eat on you or trying to fix it any further.
Part of being in business is knowing when to fire a customer. If the customer is not a fit that makes money for the business then you just have to fire them and move on.
I would of said I'm sorry there was a misunderstanding and BYE, have a nice day.

Bingo! Like a blessing in disguise.

OP if you use your mobile phone to synch calendars, appointments, etc. then you could start sending out invites to also help keep everyone on the same page. Request read receipts or responses to the invites (attendees).

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