So you’ve received a complaint from a bride. What now?

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. Regardless of whether the complaint is justified or simply a case of unrealistic customer expectations, here is an approach that you can take to amicably resolve the situation.

bride_shoutingFor the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that a bride has sent an email of complaint to a wedding supplier.

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. Think first before launching straight into a reply. You’ll need to gather your thoughts. 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 these days of ultra-fast communication 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.

Think of every complaint received as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. If resolved well, 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.

What do you think?

What do you think of my above approach about how to resolve an email of complaint from a bride? Is there anything you would do differently? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you simply enjoyed this article, please inflate my ego by letting me know!

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4 Responses to "So you’ve received a complaint from a bride. What now?"

  1. Alison Wren  August 2, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Great post, Keith.
    The only thing I would add is that sometimes, it’s better to pick up the phone rather than reply by email. It can take a lot of the heat out of the situation and there is less scope for misunderstanding either the words or the tone.

    Reply
    • Keith_Malone  August 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

      That's a very good point Alison and it's an effective way of diffusing a situation before it gets out of hand. The only thing is that some suppliers may want to keep a written account of everything that has been discussed.

      Reply
  2. WeddingFilmsIreland  August 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Dear Keith – I thought your blog on dealing with criticism from brides was excellent.
    I spent 6 years with IBM and was grilled on customer relations and customer satisfaction :-) I think in general we have a lot to learn in Ireland! When you've put a lot of labour and love into your service it's hard when there is disappointment but the longer you are in business it is inevitable that sometime you will have to deal with criticism.
    I completely agree that you can turn a potential disaster into a positive.
    Enjoying your blogs!

    Thanks,

    Louise McCartan

    Reply
  3. Keith  March 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the comment Louise

    Reply

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