Dealing With Difficult Clients – The Bridal Hairstylist Business Guide
As a bridal hairstylist or makeup artist, most of the people you’ll encounter will be happy, excited and in good spirits, which is part of what makes the job great! However, just as with any job out there, you will come across a client every so often who makes life difficult.
With a wedding coming up or on the big day itself, tensions are often running high and the mission to create the best hair and makeup that someone has ever had, under strict time constraints, is certainly a challenge. At some point, it is almost guaranteed that dealing with difficult clients is something you’re going to want to know about.
It might be that your bride-to-be is super stressed out; maybe she’s got her heart set on a look that just isn’t possible to create with her hair type; perhaps she hasn’t got a clue what she wants but whatever you’re doing just isn’t it….or it could just be that she’s not all that nice! Whatever the reason for the trouble, it’s up to you as the professional in that situation to diffuse the problem quickly, calmly and effectively.
You may describe yourself as a ‘people person’, as most of us who get into being a bridal hair stylist or makeup artist partly do so because we love the sociable aspect of it, but that doesn’t necessarily make you the best at dealing with tricky situations or complaints. If this is something that plays on your mind as one of your greatest work-related fears, we’re here to help!
There are ways that you can cope with a business confrontation and even keep the client, if you play your cards right…
At the end of the day, so much about making it in this industry comes down to positive reviews through word of mouth, so whatever happens, you want your clients to all go back to their friends having had a good experience.
This doesn’t mean that you always have to sit back and take it if things get tough, but having the emotional, psychological and professional toolkit to bring high tension back down to earth is key. It is very unlikely that you’ll ever come face to face with anything really confrontational, but it’s always good to know how to keep things on an even keel.
Just as you need to be equipped with all sorts of styles and techniques for creating a huge variety of bridal looks, you also need to be ready for all situations and know how to keep your head cool.
Take Complaints Seriously, But Not Personally
When dealing with difficult clients you’ve got to keep your feelings, and your ego, at bay. As soon as you get emotionally caught up in a problem, keeping your cool and maintaining professional equilibrium gets much harder; so if you receive a complaint from a client the first thing to do is to step out of it meaning anything about you.
If your client is unhappy with her hair or makeup or anything else for that matter, this does not have to reflect on you as a person and it doesn’t make you bad at your job. Rather than taking it personally and taking a confidence hit, which then in turn might well lead to you going on the defensive, try to avoid justifying your position and instead control the situation by offering a solution with a happy ending.
Practice Reflective Listening
Listening to a client’s upset and replying with ‘I understand, but…’ can lead to further frustration from your bride, as the ‘but’ clearly tells her that you are not understanding what she is so wound up about. Instead of this, reflective listening allows the client to feel as though you really do understand what they are saying rather than just offering an almost impersonal response and if you haven’t got it quite right, it gives them the chance to be clear – which can often make things much easier! Miscommunication has an awful lot to answer for.
To practice reflective listening when dealing with difficult clients, what you need to do is interpret your client’s words and body language and respond by reflecting what you have understood back to your bride, politely, which then allows for them to say ‘yes, that’s right’ or ‘no, let me try saying that in a different way’.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Keeping calm is of course extremely important when it comes to dealing with difficult clients, so this needs to be your first priority. The point we made above about not taking complaints personally will really help with this, so go from there.
People will often mirror the emotions of the other person, so if you get angry it’s likely that your client will get angry too, but if you remain calm, courteous and respectful it is far more likely that they will tone down to do the same.
Behaving in a rude or disrespectful way is always going to reflect very badly on you and your business, so refrain from name-calling, finger-pointing or saying or doing anything that might be used against you.
Your best bet is to keep a calm, professional yet assertive tone and keep it friendly. Falling prey to emotion in tense situations is all too easy, but if you’re reading this now then hopefully if and when the time comes you’ll be a little more prepared! Have empathy, try to understand where they are coming from and always aim to respond with kindness.
Lose the Fear
Fear of what might come of a negative review can lead to big problems when dealing with difficult clients.
If you’re facing confrontation when dealing with a difficult client, you wouldn’t be the only bridal hairstylist in the world to panic and instantly start imagining all the terrible things that might come of this.
As long as you remain calm and professional at all times, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It is only when a customer feels poorly treated that they’ll go off on a rampage, so if you do your best to resolve whatever the problem is and leave them feeling heard it’s likely that they will calm down very quickly. It may even turn out that it reflects well on you, if you play your cards right!
Prevent Problems Where Possible
It is always better to avoid problems altogether by being clear and honest from the get-go, rather than trying to fix it later. If you’re presented with a client who is demanding you do the impossible, then make sure you explain right from the start that you won’t be able to do that and why.
Offer some positive advice and let them know what you can do with their hair, maybe suggest getting some clip in extensions in order to achieve the look they’re after.
Don’t ever lead them to believe you can offer something if you can’t.
This point also applies to situations such as if you’re running late or your assistant hasn’t turned up. Tell them as soon as you know – call and give a heads up if you’re going to get there half and hour later than planned and always apologise in this scenario! It is more likely than not that your bride will be fine about it, but she will almost certainly be upset if you just don’t show when you say you will.
Good Record Keeping
Keep your clients happy.
After the trial run make detailed plans of the wedding hairstyle and/or bridal makeup you have created. It is not enough to take photos on the trial. Photos only show the finished result, when it comes to re-creating the perfect style on the wedding day you need to remember how you got there. You’ll need to remember every detail from the trial run, from exactly what hair prep you used, to what products you used and whether you need to cover her ears.
Have a look at Pam’s wedding planners and make sure you get every detail right.
Try not to mince your words or blurt out things you don’t mean when dealing with a difficult client. Think things through carefully before opening your mouth and above all else, do not ‘react’!
Be clear about everything right from the start.
From pricing, to times to the way things are going to pan out on the day, lay it all out so that your client can’t misunderstand. Before saying anything to them, make sure that you have a clear idea of everything you’re doing too – winging it does not work well when you’re a bridal hairstylist. Get your head around it all first so that when you’re giving vital information, it is accurate.
Clear communication is a valuable skill in all areas of life, so you can start practicing this right away – don’t just wait until you’re faced with a problem.
Always Do Your Best Work
No matter how you feel about a client, it is your job to always do the work work you can. Remember that you’re being paid for a service, so put your all into it! If you know that you’ve done your very best, then if you are faced with a complaint you will know wholeheartedly that you could not have done it any differently when dealing with difficult clients.
Always have a good chat to your client before you start trying styles out on them and remember to keep an eye on their body language throughout, as often this speaks louder than words. Some brides are quite shy about telling you what they do or don’t like, so keep asking questions as you style to give them the opportunity to speak up before it’s too late.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say Goodbye
Sometimes dealing with difficult clients just isn’t worth it. If you’ve done your best, you’ve tried to resolve a problem and you’ve remained professional but your client still isn’t happy, it’s not the worst thing in the world to cut them loose. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes a bridal hairstylist and a client just aren’t right for each-other and it’s better to nip it in the bud than wait until the going gets tough.
There’s no need to be rude about it, you can just say that you feel as though you can’t give them what they’re after and maybe you could even make a recommendation of another bridal hairstylist they can get in touch with that might be able to help. Sometimes it’s better to say goodbye to the client and the work than fight for something that just isn’t meant to be.