When working towards a business goal like improving your editing, rebranding your website, or hitting a sales benchmark, it is easy to have blinders on when it comes to client relationships. However, this can be a big miss. Staying on top of your client’s experience and getting feedback can go a long way toward helping to keep people happy and getting referrals. It’s important to know how your customers feel about working with you? Are you easy to work with?
People hire – and rehire – photographers who produce great work and who are easy to work with. A clients’ experience is just as important as any imagery or professional wedding album that you deliver. Confusing contracts, challenging communication, and long wedding album cycle times can disappoint, even if your work is stunning. So ask yourself, “Am I easy to work with?
Creatives can sometimes struggle to align their passion for art with best business practices. Running a successful photography business doesn’t mean abandoning your artistic sensibilities. However, it does mean having great client communication with a strong commitment to achieving customer delight. You are the talent in your company. You’re also the customer service agent and the public relations manager. If you avoid the responsibilities of the last two roles you may be missing out on some customer love.
Look in the Mirror
If you struggle with getting booked, getting clients to commit to purchasing, and frequently deal with pushback or complaints, you need to evaluate your process. It’s not fun to be put under a microscope but it’s healthy to allow for critique.
Seeing things from your customers’ point of view is fairly easy to do. A customer survey or follow-up phone call can really be enlightening. Here’s a simple script.
Hi John and Jane,
Happy six-month anniversary! We are reaching out and thank you again for choosing Lilly & Luke Photography to capture your wedding day. You guys were so great to work with.
It was such a great celebration!
We wanted to be sure that you were head-over-heels-happy with your experience, the images and your custom-designed wedding album. We love feedback and if there is anything that you can share to help us to better we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please take a moment to answer this quick survey and add any comments below.
By using positive language in your request, you are opening a safe space for feedback. Remember this is a learning tool, so don’t be defensive. If you personalize constructive criticism you won’t be able to grow. So buckle up buttercup and stay open-minded.
What’s Broken & How to Fix It
You need to know what works and what doesn’t in your business. Are you easy to work with or are clients struggling? Finding out where you fall short can lead to great solutions for pain points in your business.
Comment: “I didn’t really like the fact that we had to wait 3 months to see our images,”
This doesn’t mean that you are a bad photographer, lazy, or that you don’t care. You’re probably busy and doing your best to get things done. However, happy couples full of wedding bliss want instant gratification so they can bask in their newlywed buzz.
Question: What can you do to improve your editing turnaround time?
Answer: Hire an editor, use a culling and editing service, change your workflow to prioritize editing, and outsource something else in your life.
Comment: “We wished it was easier to get a hold of you when we didn’t understand how to make revisions to our wedding album design.”
Oof, poor communication will get you every time. This doesn’t mean that not answering a DM at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday makes you a bad communicator. Creating a plan for communication from the start of the relationship is key, and will improve customer service expectations.
Question: What can you do to establish realistic communication?
Answer: First off, prepare customers with instructions, verbally, written, and even recorded to help them navigate any process.
Next, let clients know the best means of communication and when they can expect a response. “If you need to reach out to me for any reason, my business hours are XXX . You can use my email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx and I will get back to you within one business day.” You’ll also need to stay committed to this. Don’t procrastinate and don’t overcompensate. If you fold up faster than a lawn chair when your policies are challenged you’ll be endlessly frustrated.
Comment: “It was so hard to pick out 75 images from the 2,000 we received. We were a little frustrated at times. ”
They loved their images but not the experience. For many clients, this is their first time selecting images for a wedding album. Without any guidance, picking out 75 favorite things from 2,000 sounds searching for needles in a haystack.
Question: What can be done to take this workload off the client?
Answer: Cull down the images you provide, give them your professional opinion or use a Selecting Service to give couples suggestions about which images are best for their wedding album.
Comment: “We love the flush mount album and it was nicer than expected.
Wonderful, they thought the album was nicer than expected, but what were they expecting? Did you meet with your client and show them studio samples? It is really beneficial to let couples see and hold samples. It helps establish value in your products and services.
Question: How can you communicate about the professional albums and products that you offer?
Answer: Have a collection of studio samples and carry them with you to client meetings. Also, photograph your sample albums to display on your website and social media.
Taking Ownership of the Relationship
When first meeting with potential clients, listen more than you speak. When you do talk, educate customers and present options and wedding albums that match their needs. Be helpful and be a problem solver. This is your role in the relationship with a customer. Within this relationship, you should be able to accept a “no thanks” and be able to make other suggestions or accommodations without defense.
If in the process of helping, you realize that a potential customer has a laundry list of exceptions and obstacles, know when and how to bow out. No one likes to think of turning away business, but save your energy for a more fruitful match. You can’t help square pegs into round holes no matter how hard you try.
Are you easy to work with? Are you positive, do you listen, do you communicate clearly? Or are you set in your ways and committed to process any policies that work for you, regardless if the clients are less than thrilled? The choice is yours. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” is a familiar phrase, because it’s true – and so is the opposite.