How to Create the Best Client Experience
Do you greet each and every client by name? Greeting your clients by name creates a very meaningful and treasured experience and adds greatly to the way they will experience doing business with you.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
Is your goal to build up your client base and have that client base tell everyone they know how awesome you are? Was that a yes? Me too. Our goal should always be to engage and retain our existing customers, and if we do that right, then we can count on them to continue to come back to us, and to bring their friends with them.
DO YOU LOVE DETAILS?
When was the last time you loved something so much you told everyone you know about it? Think about it a minute, was it the last time you had a great meal, a customer service experience that was really stellar or what about a service like a great haircut or manicure? Have you thought of it? Good. I bet I know what made it awesome. Was it the little details? The things that somehow were no big deal but yet made you feel extra special. Let me ask you something, do you pay special attention to the little details when dealing with each and every client?
DO YOUR CLIENTS LOVE YOU?
How much do you actually know about your clients? Do you know where they like to hang out? What their birthday is, or how about their anniversary? Do you know what kinds of things the children like, are they dancers or ball players? Do you dialogue with your clients when you are not taking their pictures? Do you send cards to them if you find out they lost a family member or a pet? I know, I know, lots of questions, but let me ask you this, if your hairdresser sends you a card because she remembers your birthday, would you not think she’s great?
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
It seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? All these questions and information, you just want to create a fun time when they are with you and in front of you, do you really need to know everything about them? The short answer is no. You don’t need to know everything about them. The question is, how do you stay top of mind in a world that is not personal? A world in which texts and e-mails are the norm and hardly anyone picks up the phone anymore. How do you stand out from the crowd?
I don’t know about you but I love to go to my favorite Starbucks where they know my name and when they see me coming ask, would you like the usual? There is nothing more comforting to me than knowing I can count on something to be consistently the same, just the way I like it given to me with a smile and occasionally with a free sample of something else they think I might like. I believe it’s customer service at it’s finest. Since I am a Starbucks gold card member, they frequently send me e-mails letting me know that my next drink is on them and if there are any seasonal specials I’m the first to know. These experiences add value and they also instill an enormous amount of loyalty.
CONSIDERATION AND APPRECIATION
Do you ever help carry purchases for your clients? Do you open doors for your clients? If you are photographing an older couple do you make sure they can sit comfortably without having to bend down? Do you have chairs that are a little higher with comfortable arms that are easy to get in and out of? If your client purchases cards from you, do you ask if they need any additional envelopes?
What specific thing do you do for your clients to show them that you appreciate them? I’m sure you know that there are plenty of other photography businesses that do what you do, how do you show the customers who choose you that you value and appreciate their business? Feeling appreciated is a wonderful feeling. It’s that thing you say to yourself after another perfect cup of coffee, “yes!” I love this place, I want to come back here soon. Have you thought about having a customer appreciation event that is just for your customers? It could be an invitation only event, one with an actual paper invitation and then ask them to come without expecting anything from them in return. Be sure to let them know that you are extending this to them because they are a valued customer and you want to let them know that you appreciate them. Send them a handwritten thank you note on your personal stationary, and let them know how much you enjoyed seeing them.
When you put a smile on your clients face, you also put a smile on their heart. Doing the little things for them, their children, their parents or pets will often be more rewarding then sending them coupons in the mail. If you know a card or a little gift will make them laugh, send it. Thank them in a showy way for a major purchase, have a contest or drawing for something fun that they could share with their family and close friends. If you are going out on a hot day, bring extra bottles of water, if it’s chilly bring a blanket, if you know they are heading to a park early in the morning, why not get them a cup of coffee. Bring something for their child, a little game a huge balloon or something you know they will love. Remember, it’s the little things.
Do you follow up with your clients? Have you asked them how they enjoyed their portrait session, or having you there to photograph an event or even their wedding day? Have you ever asked them what you could have done to make their experience outstanding? Why not? Do you like it when someone serving you asks you how your experience was? Do you tell them the truth? I find that if we don’t ask, we don’t get. You can always improve something. If you ask your client specific questions such as, “Mary Jane, did you find the before session e-mails I sent you helpful?” more often than not your client will tell you the truth. Once you get an answer though, ask more questions. What specifically was helpful? Was it “the what to wear guide, the what to expect at your session information or something else?” The goal is not to ask a billion questions but to find out if what you are doing is working well, and of course what you could do better.
The goal of the best client experience is for the whole experience to be not just fun but meaningful and memorable. Unusual and unexpected experiences influence the way your clients perceive you and they way they feel about you. These little details are easy to overlook, many times you might think they are unimportant. However, when you add up all of these minor details you end up with something of far more value than you would without them. It’s these little things that build loyalty and keep your customers coming back to you again and again. Loyal clients who love you know it’s the little details that make them feel like they are getting more. That’s what makes them talk about you to their friends and family and tell everyone how awesome you are.
Monika Labbé’s is the owner of Creative M Photography Inc. & Creative M Studios. She loves to capture whimsical moments of babies and children, the love between couples and families and your life’s biggest milestone moments. She leads workshops and mentors a 600+ group of professional photographers on Chicago’s North shore. To see more of her work visit her website.