How to handle event criticisms and difficult clients
Clients are often nice and polite when signing a contract with you. They chose you to be their planner because they believe in your super powers. They think of you as someone who can make their dreams come to life. They envision you as someone who can bring about change in their business. They hire you and expect you to “handle” everything.
But let’s face it. You don’t have superpowers. No matter how good you are in your craft and no matter how long have you been in the business, you can never completely satisfy your clients. There will always be some setbacks here and there that will be out of your control and you need to prepare for it.
At the end of the day, despite making everything happen for them, you "might" still end up like a villain.
So how do you deal with difficult clients and event criticisms? Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
Handling difficult clients
#1 Let them vent
Clients have the tendency to be ambitious. They have certain expectations that when not met, they beast out on you.
Keep your calm and just hear them out.
Let them vent for an hour or so and just apologize if things did not turn out the way they want it to.
Remember that an angry person’s brain is always blocked by his emotions so it’s a waste to even try to counter them and explain your side.
Talking to an angry person is like talking to a brick wall. They don’t hear a thing.
Once they have composed themselves, then be professional enough and take responsibility of whatever has happened.
You’re supposed to make things work for them, that even if it were not entirely your fault, your client would appreciate it if you man up to your business.
Most of often than not, when they realized they went over board, they will be the one to ask for an apology for bitching out on you.
#2 Choose your words and lower your tone
There are trigger words that make your clients feel more aggressive than they already are. Remember that they are already frustrated.
Pacify them by owning up to your responsibilities.
One of the best tricks I’ve learned that work well every time is mirroring the terms used by your client. When you do this, it makes them feel like you’re listening, and that you understand them well.
Most often than not, an argument blows up wildly because you’re using different terms with a negative tone. It confuses the other party because they associate your words with your temper, which makes them feel like you’re disagreeing with them even if you’re not.
It often happens that you and your client are on the same page but the discussion ends up badly because of your tone and your choice of words.
#3 Shift the conflict to resolution
If you’ve already been discussing about the same issues for hours, there’s no point in going further. Focus on what you can do best for your client.
Perhaps next time you would have another contingency plan if in case it rains badly during an outdoor event or you will have a back up entertainer just in case the band does not show up.
Stop beating yourself up with the things you can't control and just focus on the resolution.
Handling event criticisms
#4 Forgive & Challenge yourself
No matter how tough you are, your pride will always be bruised by criticisms. Don’t dwell on them and never blame yourself with the outcome.
Sure you missed some things and perhaps there were things you could’ve done better, but you also know that you did your best.
The good thing about event criticisms is that you can learn from them no matter how excruciating they have been delivered.
Your clients might sound delusional and irrational because they're on the verge of anger or disappointment, but there might be some useful insights you can get out of their anger.
Challenge yourself to outperform yourself next time and show your clients that you can exceed their unbelievable standards - on your next event.
Use these criticisms to channel your inner event god/goddess.
#5 Be grateful
I know it sounds ridiculous to be grateful with criticisms.
It stings and makes you want to explode from the inside.
But criticisms are always the best way to improve.
It also mean that your client still care about you and ‘might’ just stay for the long haul.
Otherwise, they would’ve fired you in an instant.
If they still give you insights and they still try to work things with you, it means they still want your service. They're just upset with the situation and they don't have anyone to blame it to.
Be grateful with event criticisms and difficult clients because they can mould you to become the best event planner around.
About Stride Plus Events
Stride Plus is an events organizing and management company based in the UAE, focused on business, networking and community events.
Learn more about our services here.