Following up on last week’s post in the dangers of “above and beyond” service, I’ve been thinking about how a related concept, that of discounts/freebies/”extras,” can affect a client’s perception.
I see and hear comments all the time from vendors who have received a bad (or just lukewarm) review. These vendors can’t believe that in spite of all they did for their client — discounting their rates because the client couldn’t afford them, delivering much farther than the vendor’s normal service area, throwing in something extra just to make the wedding that much nicer — the client still isn’t grateful and has the gall to complain.
I think that, especially in a field as emotionally-driven and creative as weddings, it’s very natural for vendors to want to be generous. That approach sometimes benefits the vendor as well — for example, the designer who spruces up a basic decor concept beyond what the client has paid for may then be able to show off that design to future clients. Everyone wins, right?
The problem is this: people generally do not value what’s free. The extra unpaid hours a wedding vendor puts into his/her services do not automatically mitigate any problems that the client perceives; in fact, sometimes clients who are gifted the most upgrades end up the least happy. I’m not sure exactly why this is. It could be that the vendors who feel the need to give the most away are (perhaps subconsciously) aware that their service has some very real shortcomings in terms of quality, consistency or value. It also could be that, by throwing in the extras, these vendors feel they’ve earned some latitude that later irritates the client: perhaps the vendors suddenly feel it’s not a problem if they take days or weeks to respond to an email or fail to arrive to client meetings on time.
I personally am not a believer in giving things away to some clients and not others; I’ll be writing about consistency in a future post. However, if you are going to throw in free upgrades, be sure you’re doing so for your own reasons, and not as insurance against a client’s unhappiness. Sadly, the latter just doesn’t work.