Saying no is such a difficult thing when dealing with people but we need to appreciate – and accept – that we cannot make everybody happy.
Our art is important and the satisfaction that comes from seeing your customers happy and surprised when viewing their pictures is an incredibly powerful and addictive feeling. I cannot get enough of those smiles or happy tears!
Carlo and I always strive to get as close as possible to our customers’ desires and dreams but not every story has a happy ending and there is no such thing as perfection, so it happened we got it wrong. Every time it happened we did see it coming but we just didn’t want to listen to our gut feeling because we wanted to believe that we could make everybody happy no matter what. Errr….Wrong!
If you feel you are not the right match for your prospective customer, it is your duty to the person and to yourself to say “no” kindly and with grace so to avoid disappointment.
A “no” feels like a rejection. Turn it into something positive
There is a truth to be told. You cannot be universally liked by everybody and not everyone will appreciate what you can do for them. It is a tough truth because every single person on earth looks for recognition, appreciation, status, and especially when you are an artist making a living out of your creations, everything you produce becomes even more “personal”. Even if you do not take it personally – or you try hard not to – if someone says they do not like your pictures, it feels like they are saying they do not like you.
The same concept applies to your customers, so if you say “no” to them they will feel rejected and unappreciated even if that was not your intention. Acting as a service provider to your customers means that your main focus is their satisfaction, therefore the way they feel is fundamental. We will always remember the way a person made us feel and that memory will be attached to that individual as a second skin.
The best thing to do is to turn a no into something positive. Make them understand that by accepting their booking you would not be able to give them what they need and pay for because this is, in all honesty, what is going to happen.
A booking is a two-way street
A couple of times in our career as photographers Carlo and I took a booking feeling unsure and uneasy. We distinctly sensed that we were not the right match for the person who wanted to work with us but we went ahead anyway deciding not to listen to our instincts.
Despite all our efforts, Carlo and I did not manage to deliver what the customer was expecting. We ended up feeling drained and upset for letting a customer down while questioning our craft and skills. We learned a lot from those life – and business – lessons and that was a big “never again”. Listen to what your heart tells you because it is pretty much always right.
Being able to say “no” is a fundamental part of doing business and especially of delivering an outstanding customer service. It is important to remember that if you have unhappy customers you will not have a viable business.
And it works both ways. A photographer is much more than just a person taking pictures. When you book a photographer you need to love their style, their craft and their approach because they are going to be with you in important moments of your life you want to remember. And you want them to be happy memories.
On the same note if a prospective customer says they love your photos but then asks for a completely different style, it may be a signal that maybe you are not the best match.
3 simple steps to say no without offending anybody and being of service anyway
1. The best thing is always to tell the truth. A “no” does not feel like a rejection if you are honest, kind and you make people understand that you do not want to waste their time. It shows consideration and respect.
2. The best formula for Carlo and I is just to say that “Thank you for your interest in working with us. Our main focus is always our customers’ satisfaction by producing amazing results and memories that will last forever, however we feel that in this particular occasion we would not be able to deliver the quality and the style of images we are known and appreciated for. It would not be fair on our part to accept a booking knowing that we cannot fully meet your expectations“.
If you cannot make your customers happy, you are not doing your job properly.
3. Help them to find a way to obtain they look for by putting them in contact with another trusted photographer that may be more in line with their needs and therefore be a better suited option for them. It is a great opportunity to promote a fellow photographer whilst still giving valuable information to customers. They will all appreciate it.
Let us know your experiences with your customers. Have you ever said no to a booking? Leave a comment below and share your experiences with us.