It was 9 pm on a Saturday, and I had just received five back-to-back missed calls from the same number, all a few minutes apart. As a wedding photographer, this is my worst nightmare. I always worry about situations like this.
Did I miss a wedding? Did I forget about a shoot? What’s going on?
I had just gotten back from an engagement session. It was an amazing session with a great couple. The weather was perfect, we connected so well during the session, and I came out with some incredible imagery for them.
Here’s one of my favorites.
When I got back to the studio and saw all these missed calls, I got worried. I panicked.
I called the number back. It turns out, it was the bride I just left from the engagement session. Thank goodness it wasn’t a wedding I missed. Nonetheless, the bride was distraught, hence the five back-to-back calls.
She told me that she had just tried to pay the 2nd payment for their wedding online, but it failed. She said that she tried again, figuring she just put in the wrong credit card number, but it failed again. She tried a third time. Failed.
Figuring it was something on her end, she called her bank, who then let her know that they had actually all gone through. They warned her it might have been a scam, saying that there was $7500 charged to her credit card, yet there she was, staring at an invoice with me, saying that it was unpaid.
Understandably, she was freaking out. Hence the five phone back-to-back calls on a Friday night.
After she had told me all this, my instinct was to get defensive. I wanted to go into freakout mode myself. What possibly could have happened? I’m not scamming her – is something wrong with my system? Am I being scammed? Did I get hacked? Ahh!
I resisted the freakout though. I was the professional here; I had to keep my cool.
That’s why the first thing I did was reassure her. I tried to get her to calm down. I said, calmly – “We’ll get to the bottom of this. I promise that you’re going to get that money back no matter what. Let me look into it for you right now, ok?”
I immediately called my payment processor and asked them to look into it.
As I was talking to them, I was texting back-and-forth with the bride to keep her updated, saying things like “I’m talking to them now, and they’re looking into it,” so she had status updates. I tried to keep her calm and reassured.
After about 30 minutes on the phone, it turns out that it was an issue on my payment processor’s end.
They told me that there was a period during that Friday evening where transactions were intermittently failing yet seeming to go through on the bank’s end. The rep reassured me that the transactions did not, in fact, go through on my client’s credit card and that they’d all disappear off of the statements in a few days.
I asked her to follow-up in an email to me, and I forwarded that email to my client to reassure her.
Monday morning came, and I called my client to follow-up to see if she had seen the charges disappear yet. She replied with a worried tone in her voice, saying that it was still there.
Later that morning, I texted her to follow up. She texted back saying that it was all cleared up.
Crisis averted. Phew.
Remember – you are the professional in the relationship with your clients. You need to take the lead. You need to be the guide. You need always to remember to stay calm.
No matter what the situation, you must take responsibility. As the entrepreneur and the business owner, the buck stops at you. Take ownership, take control, and be the consummate professional for your clients.
No matter how great your photography, if you don’t give a great experience through-and-through, you will fail your clients. Be there for them, every step of the way.