Regardless of where you are in your career as a personal stylist, most of us share the same fear: an unhappy client.
What we do as personal stylists is, well, personal so the thought of making a mistake that results in an unhappy client experience can fill us with self-doubt and anxiety. The good news? In just about 99% of these instances, you can work it out. Unhappy client scenarios are inevitable over the course of a long career. And, they’re not always a bad thing. Handled properly, you can learn and grow a lot from them. Here are some straightforward and simple steps you can take to turn any unhappy client scenario around.
Reframe Your Outlook
It’s so easy (and totally human) to approach this type of situation a little defensive. If you switch your feelings of defensiveness to curiosity before you talk with your client, there will be a distinct difference in how you interact with them. It's easier to adopt this attitude when you remember that you are an expert at what you do which means that you have the ability to make the situation right with your client. All that's missing is knowing what and where things went wrong from your client’s perspective. With a positive change in perspective, you’re already halfway to resolving the issue.
Do An Expectations Check-In
Most often the source of unhappiness in client interactions comes from a breakdown in communication around expectations. The first action to take with your client when you find out that he or she is unhappy is to get on the phone. Ask them why they are unhappy and simply listen. If you have follow-up questions about something they've said, be sure to wait until they are done speaking.
If it was a mistake on your part, such as a failure to deliver a lookbook within a promised amount of time, acknowledge your mistake and apologize. Then, let your client know when you will correct the mistake. If your client had an expectation that her experience would be different in some way, have her describe in as much detail as possible. Find out what she would have liked and when in the styling process she experienced that unmet expectation. The more detail you have, the easier it will be for you to take the next step.
Make a Plan
Once you’ve uncovered the spoken or unspoken expectation at the source of your client’s disappointment, make a concrete plan of action to make things right. Perhaps that means scheduling another shopping trip or swing by their closet to create a few more outfits. Be sure to identify the specific actions you will commit to that will rectify the situation with your client. Next, agree on dates regarding when you will fulfill your promise. Last, be sure to outline what you agreed upon in a follow-up email, so you’re both back on the same page.
Bonus Tip: We’ve found that unhappy client scenarios can be reduced greatly by having systems in place that prompt you to check-in naturally with your client at each point in your styling process. One example of a process we highly recommend is using new client forms. If you missed last week’s post about them and their importance, you can read more about it here.