Customers form an impression of how you did before you even deliver a single photo. While we all hope our photography is one of a kind, it is either enhanced by a positive client experience or harmed by a bad one. And that’s just one of the many reasons customer service might be your most important photography skill.
From there, your client might write you a raving review or tell their friends how great you were, all leading to more clients hiring you. The snowball effect of referrals can help build momentum for your business and the time it takes to do this sort of marketing is time you’re already spending with your clients. So spend your time well and make your client experience great.
Customers that don’t know as much about photography as you do would probably rather have a pretty good photographer that’s awesome to work with than an amazing photographer that’s terrible to work with. What if you set your goal to be an amazing photographer that’s awesome to work with? You’ll probably attract clients that are awesome to work with in return and truly value your amazing photography.
Why Customer Service Might Be Your Most Important Photography Skill
When you think of photography skills you might think of various aspects of shooting such as composition or posing or understanding light or even using your gear effectively. Then you might consider different aspects of the post-production process such as selecting the best images or editing them well. The soft skills are often overlooked, soft skills such as being a good listener or clear communicator, when in fact they are your most important photography skills.
Let’s talk about some of the benefits of great customer service that make it your most important photography skill. As you’ll see after going through the list below, good customer service can make your business soar so you could extrapolate that bad customer service can make your business tank. But let’s not find out.
- Customers that are happy with your service will view your work highly too.
- Those customers will write raving reviews and send referrals your way.
- Those customers will all come back to you for future work.
- As it turns out, if you treat your customers well, they’ll be more fun to work with.
- If you do great work and offer great service, customers are more willing to pay the prices you want to be able to charge.
Responsive, Reliable, and Consistent Communication
One of the easiest ways to improve your customer service is to be responsive and reliable in all of your communication with them. That means answering queries and questions within a reasonable timeframe. It also means doing what you say you’re going to do, fulfilling your promises, and being trustworthy.
Being trustworthy is actually an easy one. One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to be yourself. If you build your business around your values and in ways that compliment your personality, then you’ll naturally build consistency into what you do which builds trust with your customers.
When you’re consistent and trustworthy, your customers have faith in what you do before they’ve even seen a single photo. Then, after you already have them wanting to work with you again, you deliver awesome photos too and your fate is sealed.
Connecting With Your Customers
Start by listening, if you don’t know how to listen then start practicing and it will help you in so many areas of your life. The simple act of listening allows us to hear what the client wants so that we can serve them well, it also allows our customers to feel heard which kicks the relationship off in a positive direction. The more you treat the customer like a person who you value, the more they’ll do the same for you, and the more you’ll be able to connect with them.
Remember that your customers are the ones that are hiring you and paying you, so your job is to serve them. I too want to be hired for my creativity and vision, and the best way to make that happen is to connect with your customers. If they trust you, believe in you, and enjoy working with you, then they’ll trust your creativity too.
Some customers are impossible to connect with or treat you poorly no matter what you do. My goal is not to have customers walk all over you. My goal is for you to connect with the right customers by being yourself and thus building a whole client list of the right kind of customers. That way the customer is always right but because you have the right customers for your business.
Fulfill Promises and Exceed Expectations
If you make promises, you should keep them. And if you set expectations, you should exceed them. The easiest way to do this is to have clear policies and promises that you make to your customers as well as a workflow that allows you to deliver above and beyond.
This means that you need to actually have a calendar and a to-do list. Set deadlines for yourself and meet them. While I’m suggesting this because it will make your customers happy, staying organized and on track will actually make your life easier too because you won’t get bogged down by a workflow backlog that gets so big you can’t ever catch up.
Setting expectations from the get-go is part of the clear communication that you’re providing to your clients. If they know when to expect their photos, then they aren’t sitting there wondering why they don’t have them yet. Meeting expectations adds to your trustworthiness, which boosts your customers’ perception of you, leaving them satisfied, loyal, and passing your name along to other potential clients. Not to mention, if your clients are happy you don’t have to deal with mad clients which makes your life a lot easier.
In conclusion, hopefully I’ve convinced you of at least one reason why you should up your customer service game. And then, perhaps you gleaned a few action steps you can take to improve customer service in your own business. If you write down your entire customer journey from marketing through the shoot to delivery of the images and beyond, you can find places to practice the skills we discussed.
Where can you employ your responsive, reliable, and consistent communication? It starts with responding quickly and clearly to a client inquiry and continues through setting expectations in your contract and with the on-time delivery of your promises. It may even go beyond that to following up, keeping in touch, and asking for reviews.
Connecting with your customers is also something that should spread throughout your business from your branding and marketing to those in-person meetings and into the shoot day. It helps if you actually care about serving your customers because then you’ll want to fulfill your promises and exceed their expectations. Put all that together and you’ll allow your photography to be seen in the best light possible.