Y’all… it has been SO long since I released a Friday Chatter educational post, and I am beyond excited to be bringing it back! A few weeks ago, I asked my Instagram friends what they would be interested in reading about on the blog as I get back into the swing of consistently sharing “article style” posts with you! Your feedback was SO beyond helpful, and I can’t WAIT to share some helpful resources with you soon! Today, we’re diving into a topic that many of my industry friends wanted a resource for… client experience!
Please remember as we dive on in: client experience and the way you interact with your clients is SUCH a personal thing. I want to encourage you to take the suggestions in this post with your creative thinking cap on… can you make these topics and ideas true to you and your business? If so, how? If not, what could you do that is truer to you as a business owner and person?
This is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart because it is so important. I’ve chosen to create the client experience that I have because I genuinely love and so appreciate my clients. With that being said, it is also important to note that your client experience should be the number one way that you market your business. The truth is, your clients are investing their trust and hard-earned money in your services, and they deserve all of your love and care for that reason alone. In addition, their glowing experience is worth its weight in gold and holds more marketing power than you may realize. People talk, and you want to make sure that they are sharing a story that you will be proud of!
Word of mouth marketing has been a huge way that my business has grown and has been a huge way that I have attracted clients that I absolutely love and adore (and that love and adore CKP!). Remember: one ideal client is most likely friends with another ideal client! People talk, and they love to be the one to share great things with the people that they love. How many times have you texted your group text about an incredible product or podcast that you found?! (I know I’ve done this countless times!) The same thing applies here, and how EASY (and cost-effective!) is that marketing?! By having an incredible experience with your business, you can nearly guarantee someone will share with people in their lives.
Why is this important? I did some research, and 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising (Tap here for the source!). This means that this person is SO much more likely to turn into a client from their inquiry because their trust in you is stronger. They’ve heard about the incredible experience you give your clients, and they want to experience it for themselves!
Now… how do you provide that experience? That’s exactly what we’ll be diving into today!
Today, I’m sharing three intentional tips that can apply to nearly every type of photography and service-based business looking to improve their client experience! However, the examples provided will be geared more towards wedding and portrait photographers. I encourage you to dig deep to see how each of these could apply to your business! Let’s do this thing!
You may have heard the saying “under-promise, over-deliver,” and I think that is a great place to start when crafting your client experience. (I just like to phrase it a little differently!) The simplest things can make the biggest difference for your clients. Keep in mind, if you are a wedding photographer like me, your clients are making a huge financial and emotional investment AND this is most likely the first time that your clients will be hiring a wedding photographer. They are looking at you as the pro, and this puts you in such a valuable place to love and serve them beyond what they may expect.
As a wedding photographer, my job technically is to provide images from someone’s wedding day. My contract and service outline is for wedding day coverage, engagement session, an online gallery, print release, travel/mileage, and other wedding day logistics. However, when clients officially become a #CKPCouple, I also offer style tips and tricks for their engagement session, timeline planning, vendor recommendations, an online community with exclusive content, sneak peeks, blog posts, planning resources, and so much more. I’ve looked for ways to make my clients’ experience a little more special while also making both of our lives a little easier!
The truth is: as much as I love exceeding client expectations and making life easier for them, oftentimes, these things make my life a lot easier too!
An example: creating a timeline for my clients is an easy way to take the load off of their planning process, but come wedding day, I know I have enough time to love and serve my couples well!
Now… what are you going to do to exceed your clients’ expectations? Grab a notebook and jot a few ideas down! Here are three examples to get your brainstorm started!
- Share pre-session style tips and tricks
- Arrive at a wedding day 30 minutes early
- Carry an emergency kit with you on wedding days, including things like sewing kits, safety pins, bobby pins, tissues, and snacks just in case!
This one ties into exceeding expectations and is arguably the most important part of your client experience! Your communication with clients, potential, current, and past should be efficient and consistent. This includes online website/text copy, communication in person, and email correspondence! To keep things simple, we’re just diving into efficient email communication today.
One really easy (and free!) way to please clients and to make yourself stand out is to answer emails efficiently and in a timely manner. It sounds so simple, but I have been surprised to learn that so many small business owners don’t place as much of a priority on communication as they maybe should.
Do know: there isn’t a right or a wrong way to efficiently communicate within your business. What is important? Your communion is consistent, your client gets the answers they need, and they know when they’ll receive a reply. I start training my clients to recognize my email patterns at the start of our relationship and do my best to ensure that each email I send them following their initial inquiry addresses and/or anticipates all of their questions or potential questions. This makes life so much easier for them AND for me! (Win, win!!)
An example: If I receive an inquiry over the weekend, I typically wait to reply to the email until Monday morning! In addition, when I do reply, I let them know when they can expect to receive their custom wedding quotes from me!
Let’s chat about implementing efficient communication in your business! Where could you work to improve your communication? Here are three intentional ways to get started:
- Set your goals surrounding email reply time… when will you be replying to clients? Stick to this! (Mine is 24 hours on business days!)
- Craft a consistent email schedule to ensure all clients have the same information throughout their experience with you (I’m a big fan of templates!)
- Use out-of-office responders if you will be delayed in answering your inbox
Let Your Clients Know You are Thinking of Them
I am a huge fan of surprises and love to treat my clients throughout their experience with me! Everyone loves to know they are loved and valued, and even more than that, everyone loves free things and happy mail. Yes, there is a financial component of this point, but there are also so many things that you can also do for FREE! First, we’ll dive into the financial part, and then, we’ll chat about a few free ways that you can let your clients know you are thinking of them.
I love utilizing gifting throughout my client experience. It is so important to me that my clients know how much I love and appreciate their business and that they know I’m thinking about them. For wedding clients, I send a gift at the beginning of their experience and at the end of their experience! Each time I send a gift, I also include a handwritten thank you note/greeting on branded stationery. This is just one simple way to elevate the entire experience for your clients!
When I’m shopping for gifts, I look for each of these three things:
- The gift serves to educate or intentionally enhance the client experience
- The gift will be useful to the client
- The gift will have a bit of marketing power for CKP
Yes, the cost of a gift plays a huge part in selecting client gifts, but I want to make sure that these three goals are met before I even begin to set a budget. After you decide on client gifts, it is so important that your gifting experience is consistent between clients. Remember, people talk and it would be so sad (and a bit awkward) for your couples to have inconsistent experiences.
A note on this point: my gifting experiences often differ from year to year as my pricing and/or business goals change. I do my very best to keep gifting experiences consistent from year to year.
Aside from gifting, there are other ways to let your clients know that you are thinking of them that won’t cost you a dime. I want to encourage you to think of a few creative ways that you can love on your clients without spending any money! How will you let your clients know you are thinking of them? Here are a few FREE ideas to get you started:
- Send email check-ins (Ask how they’re doing!!)
- Utilize an online community to share resources and recommendations
- Share, like, and connect with purpose on social media
Bonus: Match your Online & In-Person Experiences
We’ve talked a lot about consistency in today’s post, and I am going to bring it up one more time: consistency in your brand experience overall is SO important. This is something that your clients recognize without even realizing what they are seeing. As a wedding photographer, I communicate with my clients so much online (Think: emails, blog posts, social media, web copy, etc.) AND also work with them in person! Before we meet, they’ll formulate an opinion on who I am based on what they see online! Wouldn’t it be disappointing to find out that the positive and bright photographer you fell in love with online is actually overwhelmingly gloomy in attitude when you work with them in person?
That would immediately break your clients’ trust and would make for an awkward experience. Remember: It is okay to be who you are as a person, just do your best to ensure your online and in-person experiences are consistent with each other!
Wondering how you can get started with this?! Let’s think it through… how are you feeling about your online and in-person experiences? It’s okay to get real here! Do you feel like your experiences are consistent? Like your working towards consistency? Like you’re having an identity crisis? (We’ve all been there, myself included!) Journal it out and look for the big and small clues that will help you improve!
Just in case that feels a little overwhelming right now, here are three easy (and free!!) suggestions to impress your clients with consistency both online and in-person:
- Develop a brand voice that is true to who you are as a writer and in person
- Ensure your galleries delivered are true to your style and what you share online
- Exceed expectations in-person & love your clients well
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