Welcome to 2015!!!! I don’t know about you but for me 2014 absolutely flew by!
Lets pretend that you need to find the perfect outfit for an extra special event that you are attending, and you don’t just want an average outfit from the mall. So you decide that a boutique store would be able to provide you with the outfit you most desire.
The first boutique you come across looks perfect from the outside, you walk through the door, the shop assistants are too busy gossiping to even notice you, most of the clothes are so high up they are out of your reach, the clothes that are in reach have no prices on them, you don’t want to ask for help because you feel a bit embarrassed, maybe they think you don’t have the money to spend, maybe they just don’t care or don’t want to help you. So you walk out.
The next boutique you come to looks good from the outside, maybe not as good as the first boutique but, as soon as you open the door, you get a warm welcome, a glass of champagne and a personal shopper assigned to help you find the perfect outfit. Prices are clearly marked on all the clothes. All you have to do is enjoy trying on those beautiful clothes.
Ask yourself this, which boutique are you going to feel happier about spending your money at, number 1 or number 2? Chances are the second boutique. Why?
Simply because they made it easy, clear and fun. They knew what their customers wanted and delivered it.
So what is your customer experience like? Which boutique are you like? Do you give your clients a warm welcome and become an open book when they contact you? Do you hide your prices? You might be keeping your prices to yourself because of competition, and there is nothing wrong with that, but would you phone a photographer if they had no prices listed? Probably not, I am not saying that you have to list ALL your prices, because I personally don’t list everything, BUT I do have my session prices on my site and I give tell them what products and collections start at.
We often hear about knowing your target client, well do you know yours? Do you know what they are expecting when they are looking to hire a photographer? This is so important, if you don’t know them, HOW are you going to offer them the experience they are expecting.
Have you set your goals for 2015? Maybe your customer’s experience is something you are making your focus this year. Here are some tips that I have discovered about customer service while in business and in past employment.
Let’s start with the don’ts
DON’T make your client jump through hoops
What do I mean by “jumping through hoops”? Are your processes complicated? Do you make it difficult for customers to book with you, eg. do they have to follow several steps to book a session? Do potential clients have to “dig” through your website to find the information they are looking for? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you are making your potential clients jump through hoops. They may not contact you to book if they can’t easily find the information they need. if they have booked with you but your processes are complicated, they may not come back to you again.
DON’T ignore your clients
Are you replying to your clients within a timely manner or are you letting their emails sit in your inbox for a week or so because you are too scared to reply? You might be thinking “Don’t be ridiculous, why would I be scared to email them back.” Well I have been there, I was too scared to email them back because I was scared to have the business. If you lack the confidence in your ability, then that can hold you back and you might ignore clients, DON’T. You need to stop ignoring them TODAY, it will be hard at first but trust me, your confidence will grow if you just push through it. People are contacting you because they like what they see on your website, or because they have been referred to you, so take that as a compliment and BE CONFIDENT!
DON’T confuse your clients
Like with making your clients “jump through hoops”, it is important that you don’t confuse your clients. If they can’t understand your pricing/process, they aren’t going to book you or come back to you.
DON’T make your clients feel undervalued
Let’s look back at the example of the boutiques. In Boutique 2, they showed that they valued their clients, with the extra services and effort they provided. We all want to feel valued, so make your clients feel valued!
Now for the do’s
There are a lot of things that you can do to improve your customer experience, but I have found these have helped me the most………
DO make it easy for your clients to contact you
You should have a page dedicated on your website for the client to contact you, give them the option to submit a contact request via your website, provide them with a phone number in case they would rather call you. Some websites have the contact section pop up on the page that the user is currently on, putting that information exactly where they can see it. Can they contact you through Facebook/Google+ ? Double check that you have not blocked messages from potential clients.
I get that it might not be convenient to always answer the phone. You may be driving, with clients or even in the middle of a project that you just can’t stop but, make sure that you have a recorded message on your voicemail, so that they know you would take their call if you could. DO NOT ignore the message, call them back as soon as you can.
If they call while you are out and about, but you can answer the phone, let them know that you will call them back, and do so in a timely manner.
DO be clear and set expectations from the first contact
Whether it is over the phone or via email, take them through your process step by step. Answer any questions they might have. If you set expectations from the beginning, there will be no surprises along the way, this means you will be keeping your client happy. We all want happy clients!!
DO be friendly
This might sound obvious, but you might be shy and find it hard. You might naturally be a blunt person, and there is nothing wrong with being straight forward. But it is important to remember that your potential clients don’t know you and they might get offended. Keep it light and friendly but be professional at all times!
Do know your target client
Take the time to research your target client, it might seem like a waste of time, but it really isn’t. You might already have had your perfect client and didn’t realize it. Take time to research them (don’t stalk them) but think about who they are, did you do their session at their home, what was it like? What kind of car do they drive? What type of clothes were they wearing – a specific brand?
Once you sit down and start you would be surprised how easy it is to get to know your ideal client.
DO value your clients and show them you do!
What do you do to show your clients you value them? Do you take the time to get to know them?
I know that this might sound like common sense but sometimes we get overwhelmed and forget the little things.
BONUS TIP: Always be honest and open with your clients, keep it professional, trust me your clients will appreciate it!
If you are worried about your customer service, make 2015 the year you blow your client’s socks off!
I would love to know if you are already doing any of the above and what do you do to show your client’s you value them? Tell me in the comments below.
Sales in Plain English Instructor for The Photographers Element
Photographer at Erin Freeman Photography
Feel like you need more help with improving your customer experience, well then your in luck because Registration for Elizabeth Halford’s Sales In Plain English is now open!! Click on the image to find out more information and how to be part of this class!
Originally from Canada, she upped sticks and moved to England 13 years ago, where she started a new adventure with her British husband. Her love of photography was ignited over 20 years ago when she travelled to Moscow, Russia aged 14, she hasn’t looked back since.
She started her business nearly 3 years ago, she soon realized that to offer her clients the best possible service, it needed to be personal, so she started looking into more ways to create this service, when the opportunity came to meet with Elizabeth Halford to take the Sales in Plain English class, she jumped at it.
When Erin isn’t working, she enjoys hanging out with her son at the British seaside and camping (or glamping as her son calls it). She also loves a bit of crocheting and sewing in the winter months.