20 Tips for Working with Difficult Clients as an Event Planner
FACT: Literally anyone with a job has had to deal with difficult clients at one point or another. No matter what industry you’re in, there will always be customers who are hard to please. As a wedding and/or event planner, it’s especially important to learn how to deal with these types of clients in a professional way, so as not to hurt your reputation or business. In this blog post, we’ll discuss 20 tips for working with difficult clients.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to having a smooth client relationship!
Types of Difficult Clients
Before we get into our Top 20 tips for working with difficult clients, it’s important to first understand the different types of difficult clients you may encounter. There are ten main categories:
1. Stubborn Clients
These clients want things their way and won’t budge on their decisions, no matter what you suggest. For example, let’s say you’re trying to organize a birthday party for a stubborn client. They may insist on having a certain type of cake by a specific vendor, even though it’s way out of their budget (which they also insist you stick to).
Pro Tip: Learn everything you need to know about client budgets with this handy Beginner’s Guide!
2. Overly Demanding Clients
These clients always want things done their way, no matter the cost or inconvenience. Moreover, they may ask for last-minute changes, which can be incredibly difficult to accommodate.
Know-it-All clients think they know better than you – the trained professional – and can often be very opinionated. For example, if you’re trying to plan a wedding for them and suggest certain vendors or venues, they may turn down literally every suggestion you bring to the table and insist on pursuing their own ideas instead.
4. Buried-in-Details Clients
These people are focused on every single detail of the event – to the point of obsession. As a result, they may not be very flexible on certain points, such as color schemes and decorations. Additionally, they can often get overwhelmed with their own ideas.
5. Unresponsive Clients
These clients are constantly “ghosting” you and are often hard to reach. When you do get a hold of them, they may be completely indecisive or provide too many vague answers. As a result, it can be difficult to make any real progress with your event planning.
Unprepared clients also tend to fall under this category. They may not provide you with all the necessary information or documents and don’t realize (or care) that this can cause delays in your planning process.
6. Choosing Beggars
These clients are NEVER satisfied with what they have and always want something better – without necessarily wanting to pay for it. If a Choosing Beggar thinks they can get away with getting something for free, they WILL try to get it. They can often be hard to please as nothing seems to be good enough for them!
Other types of clients that fall into this category include Overly Frugal Clients and Late Paying Clients.
7. Unreasonable Clients
These clients are hard to work with as they have very high expectations that are often unrealistic. For instance, they may want a budget wedding with celebrity-level decorations and service. They may also be demanding, uncooperative and never fully satisfied. It’s not uncommon for this type of client to be incredibly picky… Meaning, they may never be happy, no matter what you do for them!
8. Impulsive Clients
These clients make decisions quickly, without considering the consequences or thinking things through. In turn, this can often lead to chaos in the long run. For example, they may impulsively agree to something without researching the details or considering their budget.
9. Overly Critical/Argumentative Clients
These clients are always ready for a debate and are not afraid to pick an argument over the smallest of details. They will often disagree with your decisions and won’t easily accept advice or guidance from you, as they feel they know better.
10. Abusive Clients
Without a doubt, these clients are the absolutely WORST of the bunch. They are often rude, disrespectful, and may even use vulgar language. They may also be demeaning or threatening towards you and other staff members.
It’s important to draw a line with this type of client and ensure that they know their behavior is not acceptable. Furthermore, it’s equally as important to note that you should never be afraid to take legal action if necessary!
Working with Difficult Clients: What NOT to Do
It goes without saying that in order to preserve your reputation as an event planner, you should never resort to any of the following tactics when dealing with difficult clients:
- Losing your temper or raising your voice;
- Showing disrespect or being rude;
- Speaking in a condescending tone;
- Ignoring their requests or complaints;
- Dismissing their concerns;
- Making empty promises that you can’t keep;
- Being too pushy or aggressive;
- Refusing to compromise on certain points.
That said, it’s also just as important that you don’t roll over and let yourself be taken advantage of (or even abused). All too often, people in the customer service industry will do this out of fear or simply because they don’t want to come off as “rude”.
However, it’s important to remember that you deserve respect, just like any other professional!
Pro Tip: Has someone left your business a bad review online? Here’s how to handle it correctly!
20 Tips for Handling Difficult Customers
So, what SHOULD you do then? With the help of these 20 tips, you can learn how to handle difficult customers like a pro!
Tip #1: Remain Calm
No matter how angry or frustrated the client may be, try your best to remain calm and keep your cool. Losing your temper will only escalate the situation and make it worse. Instead, take a few deep breaths and remember that you are in control of the situation.
Tip #2: Listen to the Customer and Acknowledge Them
The first step to resolving any issue is to actually listen to what the client has to say. Pay attention, take notes if needed, and make sure you understand their concerns before responding. Most importantly, acknowledge that they are unhappy; this will go a long way in showing them that you care and really want to help.
Tip #3: Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
Sometimes, it can be helpful to try and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. This way, you’ll gain a better understanding of their point of view, their concerns, and why they may be feeling so frustrated or angry.
Pro Tip: Learn how to WOW your event planning clients with excellent customer service!
Tip #4: Explain Your Position
Be sure to explain why you can’t do something or why a particular policy exists. This will help the customer understand your position and why you may have to say no.
Tip #5: Make an Effort to Legitimately Address Their Concerns
Whatever the issue may be, make sure you take the time to actually address it properly. Explain what you can do to help or suggest other solutions that they might not have considered before.
Tip #6: Offer Compromises and Alternatives
If you can’t meet their demands, offer them a compromise or find an alternative solution that works for both parties. This will likely make the customer feel as though they have some control in the situation.
Tip #7: Be Patient
Sometimes difficult customers may need extra time to calm down and think about their situation before they can see things from your perspective. Don’t try to rush them; take the time to ensure that all of their questions and concerns have been addressed.
Tip #8: Speak in a Positive Tone
Always use positive language when speaking with difficult customers. This will help create an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation instead of hostility or aggression.
Tip #9: Avoid Arguing and Making Excuses
When faced with a difficult customer, it’s important to avoid arguing and making excuses for the situation. This will only make the customer angrier and more frustrated. Instead, focus on the solution and how you can help them find one.
Tip #10: Own Up to When You’ve Made a Mistake
Sometimes, the customer will be completely justified in their complaint and the fault will lie with your business. In these cases, it’s best to simply own up to it and take responsibility for the mistake. Admit that you were wrong and apologize if necessary; this will show them that you are taking their concerns seriously.
Tip #11: Don’t Take Things Personally
No matter how angry or frustrated the customer may be, try not to take things personally. Remember that they aren’t angry at you personally, but rather with the situation or product/service.
Tip #12: Give Them Time to Cool Off
If things get too heated, it’s best to give the customer a few moments alone to cool off and collect their thoughts. Hopefully, this will help them realize that the situation isn’t as bad or difficult as they first thought.
Tip #13: Read Between the Lines
Sometimes, when emotions are running high, the “issue” brought forth by the customer isn’t the true issue at all. So, take a few moments to really think about what they are saying and try to read between the lines. You may discover that their actual problem is something completely different than what they are actually expressing.
Tip #14: Be Quick with Your Response
If you’re working with a difficult client via text or email, make sure to respond as quickly as possible. This will help show them that you care about their concerns and are willing to help. It’s also important to keep the customer updated on any progress or changes that have been made.
Tip #15: Document EVERYTHING.
It’s important to document all conversations and interactions with a difficult customer. This will help you keep track of what has been said and any agreements that may have been made. Not to mention, it’ll also protect your business in case the situation escalates further.
Tip #16: Create a Conflict Resolution Plan
It’s important to have a conflict resolution plan in place in case you do find yourself dealing with a difficult customer. This will help ensure that all issues are addressed quickly and properly, as well as document any changes or updates that have been made along the way.
Tip #17: Rely on Your Team for Support when Working with Difficult Clients
When it comes to dealing with difficult customers, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. If you find yourself in a situation where things start to get out of hand, don’t be afraid to rely on your team for support.
Having a few extra sets of eyes and ears can help ensure that all issues are addressed properly and quickly. Plus, it’ll provide you with a sense of comfort and reassurance that you have the support you need to handle whatever situation may arise.
Tip #18: Follow Up
Once the issue has been resolved, it’s important to follow up with the customer to ensure that everything is satisfactory. This will show them that you really care about their experience and want to make sure they are happy with your product/service.
On the same note, you should also offer customer service feedback surveys – and actually use the data. This will help you better understand the customer experience and provide useful insights that can be used to further improve your business.
Tip #19: Know When to Cut Ties
When push comes to shove, know when it’s time to cut ties with a difficult customer. If the situation has escalated beyond repair and no resolution can be made, it might be best to simply part ways.
Remember that the safety and wellbeing of you and/or your team should always come first. So, if it’s clear that the customer isn’t going to be satisfied no matter what you do, it’s probably time to move on.
Tip #20: Reflect On Your Experience and Learn from It
Once the situation has been handled (one way or another), take a few moments to reflect on your experience and learn from it. Consider what you did right. Furthermore, think about what went wrong and how you could handle it differently next time. Doing this will help ensure that any similar issues don’t come up again in the future!
Strategies for Working with Difficult Clients: How to Avoid Them Altogether
Fun Fact: You can spare yourself the drama and headache of dealing with difficult customers by avoiding them altogether! But how can you do that? What red flags should you watch out for?
Well, here are seven strategies to help you do just that:
1. Have Clear and Upfront Policies
Make sure your customer policies are clear and upfront from the very beginning. This will help prevent any misunderstandings or miscommunications down the line.
2. Utilize Automation
Automation can help streamline the customer service process and reduce the amount of manual work. Plus, by using automation, you’ll be able to quickly identify any potential difficult customers before they become a problem.
3. Ask Questions During the Client Consultation
Take the time to ask questions during the initial client consultation. This will help you get an idea of their expectations and needs. Plus, it’ll also give you an opportunity to set clear boundaries and expectations from the very start.
Pro Tip: Download our FREE list of need-to-know questions you should be asking every client during your first consultation together!
4. Screen Potential Clients Carefully
It’s important to screen potential clients carefully before doing business with them. This will help ensure that you are dealing with someone who is trustworthy and unlikely to cause any problems.
5. Set Clear Expectations
It’s a good idea to set clear expectations from the very beginning. Make sure your customers know what they can expect from you and that all deliverables are clearly outlined. That way, there won’t be any surprises down the line.
6. Know What Constitutes as a Red Flag
It’s also important that you know what constitutes as a red flag when it comes to working with clients. Things like non-payment, extremely demanding expectations, and disrespectful behavior are all things that should be considered red flags. If any of these come up during the consultation phase – it’s probably best to pass on doing business with them.
7. Draw Boundaries
As an event planner, there’s a common misconception some clients have – which is that you’re basically their assistant. In turn, this can lead to them expecting you to do things that are outside of the scope of your services (as well as being available 24/7).
To prevent this, it’s important to draw boundaries and explain clearly what is and isn’t included in your services. That way, they’ll have a clear understanding of what to expect from you.
What’s more, it’s crucial that you set boundaries IMMEDIATELY if the client begins showing you any signs of disrespect or abuse. Doing this will help ensure the safety of you and your team, and help end a bad situation before it potentially gets even worse.
Finally, let’s end things by answering some of the most common questions people have about dealing with difficult clients…
Q: What is the best way to deal with a difficult client?
A: The best way to deal with a difficult client is by remaining professional, setting clear boundaries and expectations, and communicating openly and honestly. If that doesn’t work, then it may be best to end the relationship.
Q: What are some tips for improving client relationships?
A: Some tips for improving client relationships include listening to their needs and concerns, being responsive to their requests, providing value-added services whenever possible, and staying organized.
Q: What are the 3 most important skills when dealing with difficult clients?
A: The three most important skills when dealing with difficult clients are:
- Good communication;
- And conflict resolution.
Having these skills will help you effectively handle any issues that arise and keep the client happy.
Q: How do you handle aggressive and difficult clients?
A: The best way to handle aggressive and difficult clients is to remain calm, stay professional, and be assertive. Avoid getting into a power struggle with them and try to resolve the issue as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Should a client become aggressive and turn abusive, then it’s best to end the relationship as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the abuse, it may be wise to involve the authorities and/or seek out legal counsel.
Q: What if nothing seems to work with a difficult client?
A: If nothing seems to be working with a difficult client, then it may be best to end the relationship. It can be hard to say goodbye, but sometimes it’s the only way to protect yourself and your team from any potential harm or further damage.
How to Deal with Difficult Clients: Conclusion
Ultimately, dealing with difficult clients isn’t always easy – but with the right strategies and techniques, it’s definitely possible. To recap, here are the main, key points to remember when dealing with difficult clients:
- Remain professional and set clear boundaries;
- Listen to their needs and concerns;
- Communicate openly and honestly;
- Engage in problem solving and conflict resolution;
- Be assertive and don’t get into a power struggle;
- Offer value-added services whenever possible;
- And if all else fails, end the relationship.
By following this advice, you can keep difficult clients from causing too many headaches – and make sure your event planning business stays successful for years to come!