Many problems stemming from client dissatisfaction can range from many things– wedding planning is an emotional process anyway. Factor in family duties, opinions, working, and now pandemics, it’s pretty much stressful free for all. The key is to not add to it or make it worse. Truly, some of the most contention in client-vendor relationships come from misplaced or mismanaged expectations.
This can happen during the sales/booking process, where afterwards the client feels as if they’ve been baited and switched with someone or something else. What this tells you is that you did not properly outline your service or process prior to booking or immediately after booking so that the client knows what to expect and when. Perhaps these expectations come later in the process where they felt like they would be treated to or like something else than what they are actually receiving. More often than not, this leads to resentment or feeling as if they are left floundering without a guide…a guide they’ve paid for.
Here are some common mistakes wedding pros make when trying to manage client expectations:
Too nice. You can never be too nice, right? Wrong. Being overaccommodating or not speaking up doesn’t make you an excellent service provider. It’s an auditioning role to become a doormat. When you’re too nice, you will have a tendency to overlook boundaries which put your service and sanity at risk. Trying to do and be everything doesn’t always make you the best. It makes you tired and spread thin. Make sure you have boundaries in place to ensure that the client understands that you are at service and not a servant.
No Structure. If there’s no structure in place, your client doesn’t know how to complete tasks or progress in their planning but will end up not trusting that you know how to do it either. They don’t know what to do, what to ask for or what to expect because you haven’t given them a road map.
Too Rigid. When you can’t be flexible or compassionate, it removes the personal elements of connection needed to complete your service. There is a huge difference between structure and a prison cell. Boundaries are in place for a very good reason– if a client cannot make calls or meetings during office hours during the week, perhaps you can have limited hours early Saturday mornings within a blocked time frame?
Not Accountable. You may not always hit the mark. It happens– either by mistake, neglect, confusion, or preoccupation. How the client responds to your service and accountability (or lack thereof) is out of your hands. Remember– your service for your brand begins and ends with you. Make sure you are accountable for any missteps as much as you are for the triumphs. Clarify any misunderstandings and set the course going forward.
Not Available or Communicative. Perhaps it’s a busy season. Maybe things have exploded into a case of duties and pulled attention at home. As such, client emails are going days without a response. Your voicemail is where messages come to die. Maybe there are gaps between your communications or milestones and clients don’t know what to expect? This is a great time to work on your workflow and enlist extra help with communications.
- Get the client in the groove and proper mindset of working with you with a rock-solid workflow and onboarding process. Let them know what to expect, when to expect it and when they can hear from you.
- Utilize your systems to work with and for you. Allow them to be you when you can’t.
- Be flexible. Be compassionate. Be Accountable.
- Keep comms open by using a check-in schedule, systems or delegate some communications to ensure a smooth process.