It is inevitable that at some stage in our professional wedding careers, we’ll receive feedback from a bride or groom that is less than complimentary. Whether it’s well deserved due to an unnecessary cock up, or simply a case of unrealistic customer expectations, here is an approach that you can take to amicably resolve the situation.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that a bride has sent an email of complaint to a wedding supplier. In future articles, I plan to discuss how we can resolve complaints received over the phone and how to respond to negative or wrongful claims about your wedding business posted on a wedding discussion forum.
So here is my suggested step by step guide on what to do if you receive an email from a bride who is complaining about your wedding-related product or service.
Step 1: Listen and Analyse
An important first step is to listen very carefully to what has been written. i.e. read the email aloud (or get somebody else to read it out to you if you’re feeling brave!). Whether the tone of the complaint is hot headed and fiery, or calm and calculated, it is important not to rush into responding straight away. Some careful thinking or analysis is required first. If the feedback raises questions, take note of these. Conclude whether the criticism is justified or not.
I want to highlight an obvious but important point here. To 99.99% of brides, their wedding day is one the most important days of their lives. This isn’t a cliché, it’s a reality. There will be bucket loads of sentimentality and emotion attached to the entire wedding and this is the reason why careful consideration needs to be given before replying.
Step 2: Acknowledge and Thank
It is very important to remain professional and courteous at all times. Never take the complaint personally. Easier said than done. Given the circumstances, it is probably very difficult not to take personally. After all, your product or service is being directly criticised.
Losing the rag with this bride is not going to do you any favours – especially in this ultra-fast technology environment where your entire service could be ridiculed very publicly in a matter of seconds.
Draft a short email response that begins by thanking the bride for her email and honest feedback. Inform her that you will look into the problem and get back to her soon. This professional and timely response establishes the positive tone that is needed for a satisfactory resolve.
Step 3: Reflect
At this stage, think about the specific points of complaint that have been made. Split the various points into the following categories:
- Those that are your fault and can be resolved
- Those that are your fault but cannot be fully resolved – consider if something else can be done as a compromise
- Those that are not your fault at all
For very serious issues, you may even need to consider receiving legal advice. Thankfully, it is only in extremely rare cases that this would be necessary.
Step 4: Resolve
Now it’s time to draft another email response back to the bride. Inform her that you have carefully considered the points she has made. If there are multiple issues of concern, address each one in turn. Let her know how you plan to resolve those issues that can be resolved and offer suggestions to those that can’t be fully resolved.
For the points made that were your own fault but cannot be resolved at this stage, offer something else as a fair alternative. Depending on the nature of the problem, this could be providing extras for no charge or simply offering appropriate monetary compensation. Remember, if the complaint is justified, it is completely in your own interest to ensure that it is properly addressed and resolved amicably.
Some complaints may have been made against you that are totally beyond the scope of your product or service. Also, they may have been completely out of your control. If applicable, point out specific terms and conditions of your contract agreement that cover for certain situations arising. Again, be polite at all times and fully explain to the bride why these particular points are not your fault.
Conclude the email by once again thanking the bride for her honest feedback. Be very careful not to appear sarcastic with your tone. Precede a polite sign off by saying that you hope this response is to her satisfaction. Hopefully, you will receive a response back that acknowledges your professionalism with regard to the handling of the situation.
It wouldn’t be unusual to be able to turn a situation like this completely on its head and the bride could still very well end up recommending your product or service to future brides. Not all situations will end up like this of course, we don’t live in a perfect world!
Step 5: Learn
Finally, it’s time for more reflection. Surely there will be something that can be taken away from this entire experience. Problems with your product or service may have been highlighted to you. How can these be fixed or improved? Bottlenecks or other shortcomings may have been pointed out. What can you do to ensure that they don’t happen again?
If anything, a complaint will strengthen you as a person. It can be a huge learning experience for both you and your business. Again, I want to stress, try not to take the complaint personally. One thing is for sure, we can never please everyone. Also, people are people and expectations will always differ. Some will be realistic and others will not.