Client Experience | Business Tip Tuesday
Andrew and I met with our two interns a few weeks ago and we discussed one of our favorite subjects: client experience. We remember attending United in 2014 and being blown away by what we learned about client experience. From branding, to serving your clients, to how you e-mail and interact, it is all a part of the experience you are providing. We believe this part of your business is single-handedly the most important. You could deliver your best work and totally kill it creatively and technically, BUT if you gave them an awful experience it wont matter! Here is what we have learned when it comes to this area!
First! Before you can plan anything in this area it all starts with your mission and why. Make sure you have a FRESH vision statement every year. Also, ask yourself WHY you do what you do? What is it that you want to leave? What is important to you? When you know these two things you can use them as a filter for making decisions for your business.
Here is our mission and why for an example:
“Our desire is to not ever let this “business” become a business but rather an avenue to serve others. We believe that our skills and talents were given to us for the purpose of providing for us but more for the purpose of giving to others. We desire that when our services have been completed that we actually left some type of LIFE change more so than a great photo. We want to do things with excellence, serve to our best ability, and work within a healthy balance of life. We want people to remember us for more than our work, we want them to remember who we are and that we cared.”
So for us, we spend a lot of time asking ourselves if the gifts we are giving will be just a gift or if they will know we CARE and love them. We want our experience to show that we are SERVING them. So we go the extra mile on their wedding day and make sure we are being personal with them. This might not make sense for your business, but based off of our mission and why, it is very easy for us to know if something is good for our business or not.
Second! Remember that your business is a representation of YOU. The truth is anyone can buy your exact gear. It is not your equipment that makes you different. Also, there are HUNDREDS of talented photographers all around… Sometimes talent isn’t always it either. Why is YOUR business different? YOU! Your branding and experience needs to be built around who you are and what you LOVE because the only difference between you and everyone else is… YOU. You ARE your brand! So do not be shy. You might not want to share all the personal details of your life, that is not what we are saying. What we are saying is if you love romance, nostalgia, and honesty.. than those things should be incorporated into your business and brand. If you love adventure and adventurous couples.. show it, brand it, share it. Be you and you will attract clients who LOVE you and not JUST your work! The easiest way we have found to do this is to pick THREE WORDS that define YOU and most likely they define your style as well. Ours are honest, fearless, and bold! We use these three words to represent us and as a filter for many things.
So, now we can talk the nitty gritty since the foundation is laid! Here is our full experience from start to finish:
- Website – Carry your vision and WHY through out everything on your website, both in your words and photos. Filtering images by asking if they align with your three words helps to know what to show and not to show. If a photo only represents ONE word do not use it. Make your vision clear! Use your three words on the front page and reiterate YOU through out your blog and about section. Make sure your about section sounds less like a resume and more like a friend. People want to know who you are and want to connect with you. They could care less about your resume.
- Response – Once you receive an inquiry be quick. We try to respond with in 24 hours. This sets you apart! Make sure your responses are branded and personal. Try to include your three words and tell them a little about who you are. Ask them questions and be personable. From there, remember that every email and response should be timely. Have boundaries though and communicate to them when your office hours are.
- Client meeting – When you meet with your potential clients for the first time focus on serving. Find a gift to give them that doesn’t beg them to book you but lets them know you care. Ask personal questions and get to know their story, LISTEN! After you have talked all things personal and got to know each other, THEN talk business. During this meeting you should UNDER promise so that later you can OVER-deliver. We never tell our clients all the gifts they are going to receive and our process completely. We want them to be surprised! Use some scarcity, let them know you don’t take EVERY wedding and you really want to make sure you guys are a good fit. Let them know how fast you book or that you will make them aware as soon as someone inquires for their date. Some scarcity is good so they understand you are a business and you are not just waiting and desperate for them. The truth is if they don’t book you, it is ok!
- Booked – So they have booked you? Be sure to send thank you note, a booking gift and/or a personal email.
- Top of mind – Do not let too much time go with out talking to your client. Schedule emails, texts, etc. This is important especially as it gets closer to their wedding date. Staying top of their mind will help them remember you care and also keep you on their mind so if they have friends who just got engaged they can share their experience so far with them.
- Gift-giving – Throughout their engagement until their wedding date, Andrew and I schedule out times to send surprise gifts. We have sent date night boxes with a movie, candy and popcorn. We have also sent relaxation boxes with soaps, candles, cigars, and more. These gifts almost ALWAYS get shared on social media because the couple is blown away we sent something that has nothing to do with pictures. We again, focus on showing we care for them and we aren’t just photographers.
- Help – Andrew and I take great joy in planning the timeline and providing resources along the way to all of our couples. We send out e-mails with tips, pin on Pinterest for them, send our favorite blogs, and more. I typically will e-mail or call and see if they have any questions with planning or need help. Letting them know you know the wedding industry and not just photography helps them build trust and solidify you are a professional.
- Confirm – Be sure to confirm all of the details before the wedding. We recommend making a personal phone call to see how things are going. Trust us, as things get closer plans change and sometimes they DON’T think to let you know. You never want to show up to the wedding and realize they changed their getting ready location. Andrew and I always confirm where we are supposed to start, where all the details will be, and run over the timeline.
- Wedding Day – We recommend to show up a little early! Go in and say hi and be personal. This also helps you relax a little more and it SURPRISES them that you gave them more coverage. Ahead of time, think on ways to take special photos that represent their story. We always try to come up with one really special photo for our couples. Be sure to be friendly, greet everyone especially parents. Go in with the attitude to serve and not that everyone should listen and respect you. Get water for whoever needs it, help move things, be more than a photographer. When posing through out the day be sure to reiterate encouragement as you provide gestures and posing. Try to use their names when you can and make sure your organized with the timeline and have a plan. Be flexible but work quickly when crunched. When the timeline gets altered, remain calm. When you lose your peace, so will everyone else. Serve vendors, and guests as well by taking pictures for families and couples.
- After – E-mail them a day or two after and thank them again for choosing you! Deliver photos earlier than you said you would. Send a surprise gift after that’s not included! This should include a picture from their day. We usually pick this by seeing what they made as their profile picture or shared. Give it some time and THEN collect reviews. Blog about their story and why you liked them so much rather than just the technical. Again, we are just letting them know we care. Couples love to know they were on our blog and it is definitely a part of the experience they look forward to! Try to get the blog up with in a week. If that is unrealistic make it a goal to get it up as soon as you can.
- Other – After their wedding, events can come up where you can still let them know you are thinking of them. Christmas gifts, a new baby, they bought a house, etc. Another way we let our couples know we still are thinking about them is by hosting events. We do #accouple events where we all meet at a restaurant and we buy dinner for everyone. We also have had them over for a cookout, wine tastings, etc. These events have been HUGE in our experience and the couples love meeting each other.
Tools that help our client Experience:
- 17 Hats – workflow, online invoicing, organization
- Pass/Pixieset – digital delivery, album communication, can see their favorites etc.
Ok! So we have shared EVERYTHING with you! Why? Because so many people have shared EVERYTHING with us! There is a lot here and some things we say so fast but this is a rough look at what we focus on through out our wedding experience.
Sharing, serving, and celebrating,
Andrew + Chrissy