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May 12, 2011

PR Tips 101: Client Conflict Resolution And When It’s OK to Walk Away

We’ve all heard the saying, “the customer is always right.” Many of us could dispute how often it applies, but the basic notion is something many companies agree on – pleasing the client is priority number one. After all, what is a business without customers? Any wedding business deals with customers on a regular basis, so we need to have a strategy for what to do when a conflict arises. Do you surrender immediately and give them whatever they want just to keep their business? Not necessarily… You need to have boundaries and stick to them!

Over time you create a relationship with your client that is built on the trust that you are going to do what’s best for the them, and you trust they will be satisfied with your work. If something does not go as planned or you made a decision that disgruntled a client, handle it with open communication and a humble attitude.  Your client hired you because they respect your work and feel confident you won’t lead them astray, but that doesn’t mean we get the final say and decision all the time.

When managing client and conflict resolutions, what you want to avoid is the arrogance of, “I’ve been doing this many years and I know what’s best” attitude. Yes, you have experience and expertise in your field, but if you’re the only party involved in creating the solution then your client will never be happy and this can impair your reputation as well as future referrals. People just want to be heard and understood. Together you can create a solution. Usually, there’s always a middle ground to be found, and if you approach the conflict with a “how can we solve this together to create the best possible outcome” then you’re already one step ahead.

If you find that there is not much that can be done, then gracefully terminate the working relationship and move on. It’s ok to go with your gut and know when it’s time to let a client go. It happens and it’s healthy for you to listen to yourself, understand your boundaries and know what’s right for you. Try your best to accommodate both your needs and those of the client and in the end if it’s not good enough, that’s ok too. Cut yourself some slack and do it right next time. You deserve to work with clients who value you and those that do will understand when things aren’t perfect.

Photo by Our Labor of Love

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