A happy client – but what if a client isn’t happy with your work?
Yikes. You get that dreaded email from your client that tells you they aren’t thrilled with the session. Or even worse, you get no response so you have to check in to ask if they’re happy only to get bad news out of them. Know that every professional has or will come across a dissatisfied client, but it’s how you decide to handle that client that will speak volumes about how you run your business and can eventually help your client feel better.
I’m not going to tell you your photos were amazing or you did nothing wrong, because I can’t see all of the images that you took. This post is to explain to you what could be the problem, ways to remedy the situation, and how to avoid future problems.
First, a few things you should consider:
- No refunds. I don’t believe in them. You already put in your time and there is no “to your satisfaction guaranteed” clause in there. I stand by my work 100% that I don’t entertain the idea of a refund. If you too can stand by your work and the time you put in, there’s no question that you did. The issue could be something else, more on that later.
- Take time to respond. I have found that sleeping on it can help calm the situation down. I’ve also found that words and tone can really be lost or read incorrectly though a text or email. Sometimes talking on the phone can solve a lot because emails, especially ones that have less words can be easily misread. Be chipper when you call/respond to your client, remembering that you can set the tone for the way the situation is handled. I have to admit that I have regrettably reacted poorly from my emotions.
And really, here’s the common problem for the client being unhappy:
- It has nothing to do with you. It could possibly just not have anything to do with you. The complaint can’t be targeted to your actual work if you are consistent with your style. You client can’t be upset if you gave them what you told them you would (such as a specific number of images). You just have to ask yourself if you gave the client the same quality that you showcased to make them book you – if so, then the problem is not your work. What it can be is a multitude of things – they overspent, they didn’t like their hair or makeup, you shot their bad side and didn’t know it, or their fake eyelashes were halfway on their eyelid and flapping in the wind.
Ways to remedy the situation:
- Listen to them. Say you’re sorry they feel the way they do, and tell them that if there’s anything in particular on your end that you could perhaps help fix (opening up the Photoshop options) tell them to communicate those insecurities to you. Tell them you take their event seriously and you will happily do whatever it takes to make it right with the images you took.
- Ask them to specifically pinpoint what the issue is. It could be deeper beyond your control. But if not…
- Fix it. Photoshop it, or give more images. Whatever the client ends up really telling you it is, doesn’t like their skin, eyes closed, brighten the photo, simply do it.
- Reshoot but no refund. If you can, consider reshooting.
If it has to do with insecurities, you can try this:
- Consider carefully checking all your images through Photoshop. To me, this means really paying attention to the details of your client. I don’t know why people freak out over the Photoshopping thing. I’m a FORD model and listen, pictures of me don’t come out of the camera looking smashing. No photo becomes a cover of a magazine or advertisement before running through Photoshop and a little post. By not looking through each image carefully you are not giving images the attention they deserve. Each image needs to be perfected (I look at each image at least 3 times, often 4 times before they go to my client, I not editing it each time, but I am looking at it and rechecking to make sure my style is consistent). Photoshop exists for a reason and here’s what you should edit so your client sees their absolute best:
Anything that is temporary like a zit or a scab. I don’t Photoshop anything that would change the way a person looks unless I’m requested to. I don’t want my client to notice that their special freckle or brow furrow was taken out because I think they would look better without it – I just Photoshop out things that will probably not be there in a week that makeup couldn’t hide. I repeat: I do not edit to make a person look more beautiful, and I’m not recreating their chin or slimming their nose down. I edit to make their skin look better or if necessary, eyes whiter.
Arms if it looks funky. Not because the arm needs to be thinner, or I think it’ll make them loose a few pounds. I use the liquify tool if my subject’s arm magically went from normal to double in size due to a sporadic movement or pose that made that happen. And let’s be completely honest, as a girl, if our arm looks fat, we won’t like the picture (and yes, as a model, I do have the fat arm shots and it’s due to poor positioning). So, I fix it back to normal. To me that’s the same as photoshopping open eyes on a person, it’s what looks normal.
And if all else fails, it just happens, as it does to everyone. Every business has had the problem customer which is normal. Learn what you can, dust yourself off and carry on. What are your thoughts?
Have you had a bad client situation? How did you remedy it? What are your thoughts on Photoshop and how much? How do you make sure your work is perfect before you give it to your client? Would love to hear what you’ve learned.
Diana Elizabeth has been there and has heard from other professionals the bad stories, even clients who have made them cry. Cry! It makes her sad, so please know that it happens and while it’s our work and pride and joy, try not to take it personally. Sometimes anger and insecurities can often be misdirected – always strive to be the bigger and more understanding and graceful person in difficult situations.