Family-Owned Business | Handling Complaints & Customer Service

by Amanda Pestana

Recently, I had an engagement with a family-owned photography company, which turned into a horrible experience. The reason the experience turned sour was that they didn't know how to communicate effectively, increase customer satisfaction, and mixed personal life with business.

I am going to use them as an example so that you can learn how to better communicate with anyone, regardless if you are a business owner or not. This can help you with relationships and within the workplace.

They are a family-owned operation, husband and wife. So, their business is EXTREMELY personal, and when they work together, it is clear that they are not one the same page.


Develop a Game Plan with Your Partners in Crime

For teams, businesses, relationships, and people working together, "teamwork makes the dream work." This is true and makes a difference when engaging directly with customers. For this couple, it was clear that they brought to work their problems, and they did not know how to communicate with one another. It was consistent, "You are in the way!" "Move!" "Get out of my way!" and so on. There was no patience or loving communication between the two.

If they had a game plan in place, when one steps into the scene by accident, regardless if they are happy or mad with each other, it stays professional. This could be a hand single, a phrase, a word, or even a joke, but one that both understands the meaning behind it. This will decrease the hostility in the work environment, the bad vibes, and the anger between the two when communicating with each other in front of clients.


Whether it means developing a script or pausing before speaking, create one.

Choosing how you answer these questions makes a BIG difference. Especially, when you take into consideration customer service.

Here is an example: How many images can I choose? 3.

What if I like more images? Only 3.

But... The contract you signed says 3. Did you read the contract? Do you know what your contract states? Maybe the questions weren't that great, however, you understand the meaning behind the questions. The client wanted to know if they can choose more images.

Sidenote: For those interested in starting a photography company, Pixieset is a good option. You can provide all the images for clients to view and select the ones they liked at a low budget cost for business operational costs.

Pixieset - Here is their pricing:

This was also the program used by the family-owned photography company.

Here is an example of how they could have better answered the below questions:

How many images can I choose?

You can choose three images per the contract; however, you will be given the option to select additional photos that you liked at an additional cost. Depending on the number of images that you want - we can work with you on the price and maybe bundle the pictures all together instead of you paying for each one individually. During the selection process, favorite all additional images you would like and notify us once your selection has been finalized. We will analyze what options would be most cost-efficient for you.

This reply is clear and concise providing sufficient details and quality feedback that any customer would be more receptive towards receiving in comparison to the previous answer.

How a person answers questions makes a HUGE difference! I remember feeling very frustrated with the replies I received from the business owners. It made me not want to come back or work with them again. Not, only did they not answer the questions properly, but they started yelling and screaming on the phone saying how long they had been in business and made this big deal just because I had requested the option to choose more images. Even though they had a program in place that provided this option to clients.



Treat others the way you want to be treated.

It is essential to be personable and caring towards your customers; it makes an enormous difference in the photography business or any other business for that matter. It doesn't mean to bring all your problems with you and talk about your life or go on a whole tangent about your problems. Instead be someone others feel like they can approach and talk to. Someone that is willing to help others and has the patience to do so.

Being friendly and nice to people makes a difference. We never know what others are going through or how we can positively impact one's life just by being kind. Therefore, take this into consideration when interacting with customers and team members.

Develop a game plan, choose your words, and always be human!

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