Wedding Industry Customer Service Standards

Image via riftsuccess.com

This is a little plea to the wedding industry about professionalism.

I am a bride to be as well as a wedding photographer, so I think I’m in a good position to be able to see things from two different perspectives.

As a bride to be, I am frustrated. Do you know why? It’s because I don’t think you’re taking my wedding as seriously as I need you to. And I don’t mean that to sound at all Bridezilla.

The wedding world has some lovely, creative, wonderful people in it but when I ask you for a quote and I’m still waiting for it a month later, when my last email has gone unanswered, when a supplier is rude or unhelpful to a client or unwilling to deliver what the client wants rather than what they think the client should want, then we have a problem.

These situations are more common than you’d expect, from what I hear from couples and people I talk to on Twitter.

It’s a problem that, frankly, makes me never, ever want to work with you. If you can’t manage to reply to an email, how can I trust you on my wedding day?

When you work in a call centre or for the Council or for any company providing services to customers, you generally work to a set of Service Standards.

These standards might say that you’ll reply to emails within 48 hours or that all letters will receive a reply within 10 working days and you’ll probably get an acknowledgement letter or email letting you know this.

Granted, these companies are frustrating to deal with in a whole different way but at least you know when you can expect a reply (even if it makes the vein in your neck throb…) and a reply from a person who isn’t (usually!) outwardly rude to you.

People’s dreams are built upon the wedding industry. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. Whether you’re having a budget wedding or a lavish affair, you have an idea of how you want it to be and a supplier has the power to either make that idea happen or make it much, much more stressful than it needs to be.

It’s a privilege to be invited to be a part of a couple’s wedding whether it’s as a supplier or someone who writes about it afterwards.

Bloggers, this also means you. It is unacceptable not to reply to an email sent to you by an excited bride who wants to show you her wedding, even if that wedding does not fit your brand. It takes five minutes to say thanks but no thanks.

Couples are our customers but we are also each other’s customers and everyone should receive the same high level of service whether it’s a couple that are getting married, a big wig within the industry or a small supplier that’s trying to make their mark.

Good manners cost nothing and it’s nice to be nice.

Because I felt so strongly about this, I drafted some Wedding Industry Service Standards. What do you think? Could you sign up to these standards? What should be added/taken away.

• Because of the variable nature of our business hours, if we are unable to reply within the following time scales we will let you know when you can expect to receive a full response
• We will acknowledge receipt of ALL emails and letters within two working days and provide you with a full response within 10 working days. If we can’t provide a full reply within 10 working days, we will let you know when you can expect a reply.
• We will respond to all voice mails and telephone calls within 48 working hours
• If for any reason we are unlikely to be able to respond to voice mails and telephone calls within 48 working hours we will set a voice mail message that states how quickly we are likely to be able to reply
• We will be nice and polite
• We will listen to you, our customers, and not assume that we know what best suits YOUR wedding
• We will of offer advice and assistance where ever possible to help your day to run more smoothly
• We will treat all customers equally regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual preference, colour, age or status within the wedding industry

39 thoughts on “Wedding Industry Customer Service Standards

  1. What a refreshing read! The one time I’ve been dress shopping it was a complete let down. I wasn’t made to feel like a valued potential customer and it just left me feeling sad, which is not how I envisaged the appointment would make me feel!
    In any outward facing business it is essential that you provide amazing customer service. Word of mouth is a powerful tool!

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for such a clear post articulating what many brides/recent brides feel and yet feel powerless to say to larger suppliers/bloggers. Clearly, not being in the industry myself, I don’t know the pressures that are on wedding suppliers or bloggers, however I know that as a freelance consultant in my own industry, I’d not be able to get away with such a blase attitude towards clients or potential clients.

    I’ve seen a lot of posts recently by people in the industry arguing their position on the place of details, vintage, bloggers, and even mason jars (!) in the wedding industry, which is a fair enough topic for debate. However, until you achieve the basic standards that any other company would be required to maintain, you’re not running a business, you’re just asking people to pay to maintain your lifestyle.

    • “However, until you achieve the basic standards that any other company would be required to maintain, you’re not running a business, you’re just asking people to pay to maintain your lifestyle”

      Yes. This. x

  3. Totally agree with all your points – I too am a wedding photographer and I got married myself earlier this year. I sent out loads of emails and called lots of suppliers for details when planning my own wedding to be met with unfriendly responses and in over half the cases, no responses at all. I don’t understand people’s attitude I really don’t – I myself wrote an article about good customer service on my own blog just yesterday because I have recently had 2 very good experiences – but surely this should not be unusual – it should be the norm?
    Nicky 🙂

  4. Great post. My wedding is next weekend and my coordinator is awful at returning my emails. What is my cake going to look like? I have no idea!
    I think another issue is that these vendors do this every.single.weekend. They’re likely pretty good at getting the job done at the end of the day but yes, when it comes to customer service they don’t even make it seem like they’re working as hard on it as the bride is thinking about it. I don’t even care if you leave this and that to the last minute but at least make me feel like everything is being taken care of. Sometimes all we need is the peace of mind.

  5. Laura, I am in the same position as you my dear, as a photographer and a bride to be! it can be sooo frustrating because you would hope to receive the same standard of service as you are used to giving! Brides are under enough stress without suppliers giving us hassle. I am discovering now that independent smaller (and local) company’s usually give a great service and a more personal touch. Thankyou for a great blog post! Laura x

  6. Fab post Laura and thank you for highlighting it! About 80% of my customers have mentioned having problems getting in touch with various suppliers they have PAID to work with on their wedding day.
    I know from past experience that if an email somehow goes missing in email land it can cause a lot of problems for both the supplier and bride. Which is why i have my Twitter and Facebook, so that no matter what, if for some reason i haven’t received an their email, they have other and very public ways of getting in touch.

    When i was getting married i could not get my head around some of the suppliers that i came into contact with. Our original caterers were a nightmare to get hold of, and rude! so we soon sacked them off! One supplier left me fretting after i paid the deposit as they would not answer any emails or calls to acknowledge the payment. Turned out great in the end but sure as hell stressed me out! x

  7. Excellent! You make wonderful points. We all know how frustrating it can be to email another vendor we’re working with, a venue or any other involved party for that matter and not get a response. It makes you lose faith in them and holds you up on your end if you don’t have the details you require.

    If we could all remember those times and put ourselves in the place of a couple who doesn’t know our industry and has hired us to help them create a memorable day, we’d all be better off. It should be looked at less as customer service and more as common decency! Our couples are looking for guidance, experience and support — that’s why they’ve hired us!

    • This—-> “If we could all remember those times and put ourselves in the place of a couple who doesn’t know our industry and has hired us to help them create a memorable day, we’d all be better off. It should be looked at less as customer service and more as common decency! Our couples are looking for guidance, experience and support — that’s why they’ve hired us!”

      Nail. On. Head.

      x

  8. I completely agree with you and work hard to respond to all emails and forms of contact ASAP. May I just though throw into the mix that this can go both ways. I work incredibly hard on my customer service. I offer a very indepth service with my consultations and quotes which take time and effort and so when I don’t get a response from a potential client after I have sent a quotation and then a further email a few days later asking if they have received it when there is no response it upset and sadens me. Like you said it doesn’t take much for someone to send a ”Thanks but no Thanks” email…being ignored is rude and quite disparaging for us suppliers to.

    • ”Thanks but no Thanks” email…being ignored is rude and quite disparaging for us suppliers to.

      I totally agree. As a photographer, I’ve also had a couple of people that have ignored my email when I’ve followed up. It’s a bit soul destroying… x

      • I would love to second and third this point. We do offer a high level of customer service (90% of e-mails are responded to within 4 hours and e-mails within 24 hours) and in order to do this, we have to limit the number of clients we take on – which impacts us financially. This isn’t a complaint – I am at my happiest when I am making customers happy. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

        However, I always get crushed when I have taken the time to put together a thorough quote, phone consultation or (worse!) an in-person consultation and the client cannot be bothered to simply say, ‘no thanks’. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it burns. Plus, when potential clients tell us ‘no thanks’ it can be an opportunity for us to learn what we can do to improve and do better next time.

      • Thanks so much for your comment (I love your work by the way). I agree it really hurts when you’ve spent time with a client getting to know them and understand their vision for their wedding. Especially with those weddings that you fall a bit in love with. I’d be interested to know how you gather feedback when clients say no. It’s something I’ve been thinking about. x

  9. I love this post and completely agree with you Laura. I’m a photographer and work hard to keep good consistent levels of customer service… and happily sign up to your code of conduct!! I also totally agree with Gayle – it does work both ways. Enquiries and meetings do take time, and it’s really demoralising when couples don’t come back to you. Well done for putting this out there xxxx

  10. Someone needed to say it. As a bride to be I’ve been left in tears when the wedding band I desperately wanted took a MONTH to respond to me… it’s not easy either as a newbie feeling like small fish when someone ignores your email etc, especially when it’s one that’s well thought out and written with care.

    However, I’d also love to point out the amazing suppliers out there, there are some who are so prompt it puts me to shame, who have time for me regardless of how busy they are, who listen and ask the right questions. They set the example by which I will always endeavour to run my business.

  11. This is so true. As a photographer, I may not always be available but I do pride myself on how quickly I do respond to calls, texts and emails.
    My suppliers offer me excellent customer service – when my sample album started to unravel after a fortnight, the suppliers picked it up, fixed it and returned it within a week. Brilliant!
    I’d be mental not to offer that level of commitment and service, basic politeness to my clients!

  12. What a wonderful post. I wonder what the slacking suppliers are thinking when they don’t put their brides & grooms on the top of thier priority list. Shouldn’t these suppliers be GREATFUL for their business? Out of all the suppliers out there they are interested in YOU. It’s an honor, isn’t it?! That in its self should be worthy of something! And you wonder if they don’t worry about reputation? Maybe your post will give a few of em a little kick in the pants 🙂
    Thank you for such an awesome write up!!
    Good luck to all you brides out there!!

  13. Totally agree with all you say ! What’s more .. and yes I am now going to blow our pen trumpet ..we pride ourselves on answering all client and suppliers emails within 4 hrs ( (maximum) and mostly it’s within the hour!
    We have been running weddings here at The Great Hall at Mains for over 20 yrs and I personally train all my staff to provide the absolute best service possible . Couples are spending a lot of money on what is ostensibly the best day of their lives – the least we can do when taking their hard earned cash is provide every assistance in delivering exactly what they want – answering that first email or telephone enquiry is the first step on that road taken together to achieve that dream wedding ! Your right – if they can’t even be bothered to answer your email then how on earth could they run your wedding expertly ?
    Rant over lol !
    Adele Yeomans – proprietor
    Sorry for the long waffle – it’s something I feel very strongly about !

  14. I completely agree – at the end of the day so many of these wedding suppliers seem to have forgotten that the customers (and potential customers) are the ones who are supporting their business and allowing them to put food on the table!

    I try to answer emails the same day – if I have a lot on I at least send a courtesy message just to say ‘Sorry but I’m away from the office today, I’ll read your message properly this evening and will get back to you as soon as possible, Thanks.’ – It takes a couple of seconds and seeing as most suppliers have phones with email access its just pure laziness that they don’t.

    I’m glad that Kat from RocknRoll Bride commented on here because she is one of the most efficient and positive person when you get in touch via email. Unfortunately so many bloggers don’t realise that when a new(ish) wedding supplier emails them a wedding they have worked on or asks about sponsership and recieves a quick ‘copy and paste’ style reply to say ‘thanks but not thanks’ it can be upsetting and deflating!

    With any other company – be it a high street store, a corner shop or a huge chain – all of the employees are trained in customer services, and are expected to maintain certain standards – why should these companies be any different?

    As a bride to be I recently had a florist laugh in my face when I told him my budget for wedding flowers! I had an awful dress shopping experience the first time I went – the way I was treated was as if I was a silly little girl who didn’t have a clue – yes I may not be an expert in dresses but I do have an opinion and being forced into a dress that I repeatedly said was awful and just being told ‘we’re experts its perfect for you’, and ‘of course you won’t be wearing your glasses on your wedding day’ made the experience completely harrowing! I may just be one person to them but like others have said this is meant to be me preparing for the best day of my life!

    We aren’t just a conveyor belt of money – we are customers and individual people who deserve to be treated with respect and have our queries responded to promptly and politely – if some can do it so can everyone!

    Alex (sorry about the rant!) xxx

  15. Great post, Some suppliers need to give better customer service , if you do not love what you do I think it reflects in your work and attitude…I would like to think I give good service but would welcome some suggestions on how I can improve….and then again some brides to be a little more polite….I am a small wedding boutique who design and make gowns to order for some fantastic brides. We have to work on an Appointment only basis…not because we are being snooty but because the way the shop is set up we only see one client at a time and give them our undivided attention for thier time with us. Saturdays is our busiest day and we can only do a max of 7 appointments, but at least 1 or 2 of these appointments do not bother to show, do not ring to let us know, despite us asking them to let us know if they cannot make it. By which time we are not able to offer the appointment to someone on the “waiting list”. I know other designers take deposits (that are refundable if the appointment is kept) but I really don’t want to go down that route, but I cannot think of how else to do it. Any suggestions? I too find it a little( a lot rude) when I have spent an hour with a bride, trying on, coming up with ideas and then spent another 30 mins working out costs and options for different price brackets, that I do not even get a response to my email….even if it is to say Thanks for you time on saturday, but I am going to think about it, or its out of my budget or whatever reason…It doesn’t matter..its just polite

    • I tottally agree that it would be nice to get a thanks but no thanks from those clients that you’ve spent time with. You’re investing in them and their weddings and it wouldbe nice for some acknowledgement of that, even if you’re not right for them. Thanks for your comment. x

  16. Great post.

    Yes, yes and yes.

    I try very hard to respond to emails in a timely manner but I don’t have a team of people helping me and sometimes things slip through the gaps. I hate it when it happens.

    As a bride I had some very shoddy service. It does paint you as a bridezilla. It’s just not true. When my husband asked for things to be done. They just got done. So frustrating.

    • Thanks for your comment, Anna. I do agree that it’s hard when you don’t have any help. I don’t get anywhere near the volume of emails you bloggers do and I struggle to keep on top of them.

      I’d not thought of setting Husband to Be on the naughty suppliers… I’ll get on the case! x

  17. Clare @ The Beautiful Wedding Company

    It can be a few people in any industry who let it down for the rest of us. True professionals are passionate about the wedding industry and nothing is more vaulable than dealing with an industry professional.
    Working with a wedding planner can often alivievate any of this stress as they will put you in contact with people they know and trust, ensuring your wedding experience is the exhilarating fairy tale journey that you deserve to experience.

    (Recently married and have gone through the entire wedding planning journey, including establishing it as a business!)

  18. Pingback: Rock n Roll Bride · Thursday Treats – 3rd November 2011 + Preview of the Claire Pettibone 2012 Collection

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: