Confession time: while I love photography, I love branding and business more. After two years in the photography business I’ve discovered that while being an amazing photographer that consistently works magic with your camera is huge, creating a memorable brand just might be even bigger. Don’t shake your head yet; hear me out!
There is a photographer in my area that takes beautiful pictures. She has a special superpower that she uses to make even the most challenging toddlers smile, her newborns are always sleepy and peaceful and her wedding images are stunning. She is always booked solid.
There is only one problem. While her clients love their images, the customer service/business end of her business is seriously lacking, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
I actually attempted to book a family session with her last year and was turned off when I had to send two inquiries that never were responded to. Finally, a month later I messaged her on Facebook, she got back to me and we setup a session. A couple days before the session that we’d scheduled 9 months prior, I got an email from her assistant saying there was a scheduling mixup and I’d need to reschedule. No apology, no attempt to make my promised date work. Unfortunately, the makeup date she suggested instead was during the day in the middle of the week, when my daughter was in school (mind you, she knew it was a family session and that my daughter was old enough to be in school). Since I couldn’t do date they offered, the next available evening session would be a few months out.
Needless to say, I did not schedule another session. I spoke with friends that had used that photographer before, and they all said my experience was totally normal. Emails often go unanswered, communication gets muddled and it can be a big hassle.
I was shocked that this photographer I’d admired seemed to be so unprofessional when it came to her business.
Granted, this particular photographer has a lot of business, and people love her work (plus, I’m sure she has plenty of clients that have never had an issue with scheduling a session), but imagine how much more people would love her if she stepped up and got her business in shape!
If you can wow your clients with your work AND your business practices, you will create raving fans every single time. Check out a few of my favorite tips for making your clients feel special by delivering knock-their-socks-off customer service!
- Check and respond to emails frequently. I designate certain times each day (once in the morning and once in the evening) to check emails. This allows me to ensure I don’t miss anything, and nothing sits in my inbox for more than 8 hours. That mom that emailed you three days ago that you just haven’t had time to answer yet, she likely emailed a few other photographers, and by tomorrow, her session is booked with someone that bothered to act like they wanted her business. Remember: you want every person you work with to feel like they are the only person you’re working with.
- Send hand written notes. I am kind of old school. I’m obsessed with stationary and if you have a baby shower or wedding and don’t bother to send out thank you cards, I will notice and judge you a little (sorry!). When someone books a session, I immediately send out a thank you card with a little note and a reminder of their session date and time. I put a couple business cards in and off it goes. I’ve gotten great feedback, it is amazing how far a small action like that can go! I find that most photographers don’t do this, so it is a little way to make yourself stand out! Try to find stationary that matches your brand!
- Welcome guides. The more information you can give your clients, the better. Answer their questions before they get a chance to ask them. Welcome Guides are a great way for your clients to get to know your business, and leave them feeling confidant about their upcoming session. They’ll also be blown away that you took the time to create the guide, and they will appreciate all the information! FYI: wedding guide templates make for great welcome guides!
- Under promise, over deliver. Seriously, this one is key. If you get your clients their images 3 days after the session, tell clients it will take a week. If you plan on giving them 15 images, say they’ll get 10. Include extras (a print, a product, whatever) with their orders that you don’t mention up front at all. Leave them saying “wow!” at every turn! Bonus: if something comes up and you take an extra day than normal, they client will never know the difference!
- Send a thank you gift. Each of my clients gets a hand made thank you card from me that includes a cute magnet with one of the images from their session. It takes me a little time to put together and costs a few bucks to ship, but it is well worth it! If crafting makes you cringe, buy some great stationary and send thank you’s with a gift card for Starbucks or something with a note about how they can enjoy a drink while checking out their images. Remember, the gesture is what is important here!
- Stay in your clients minds after their session. Send out a monthly newsletter, birthday cards, holiday cards, anything you can think of to keep your brand in the clients mind. Don’t give them a chance to forget about you! Be careful- you don’t want to pester them to death! Find a good balance and make the content fun.
Have I convinced you to invest a little more time in your customer service game yet?
If you don’t believe me, put my tips to the test! For the rest of the month, implement these tips in some way, shape or form with each and every client and see if your clients seem happier. Do you get more positive feedback? Do they thank you for getting back to them so quickly? If you don’t see any change let me know, and I will send you my absolute best apology card!
Psst: One of my favorite stationary companies is Rifle Paper Co. – check them out here and be prepared to fall in love!