The client experience is everything: Make them feel comfortable, cared for, and valued, and they’ll not only be your best customers, they’ll bring you new ones by gushing about you to their friends and family members. Our very own Chris Walters gives you his top tips for making your clients’ experience the best it can be. With years of wedding photography under his belt and his role as ShootProof’s Support Manager, he’s no stranger to making people feel comfortable both in front of and behind the camera. We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty with some surefire ways to make your business all about the customer!
Know Everything There is to Know
Just short of Facebook-stalking them, be sure you know your clients in and out before you work with them. This can be difficult if you’re shooting mini-sessions with clients you’ve never met or if you take on a last-minute booking, but it isn’t impossible. Make it a part of your process to send clients (or potential clients) a survey or questionnaire that asks simple questions like, “What’s your favorite coffee?” or “If you had thirty minutes to yourself, what would you do?”
Once you’ve got the insider info, do something with it! Prove to your clients that you were the right choice. Chris suggests sending a small booking gift (think a $5 gift card to their favorite coffee shop, a bottle of wine that was hand-selected, or movie tickets, candy, and popcorn for a date night out if they mentioned they’re movie buffs) to show not only your appreciation, but also your attention to detail.
There are ample resources for questionnaires that are simple to set up and easy to use. Shoot seniors? We love the Senior Portrait Profile from Design Aglow, which includes a questionnaire that tells you about hobbies and extracurricular activities. Want one tailored specifically to boudoir? Colorvale’s got it! Portrait photographers may like these (free!) ones from Photography Concentrate, and if you’re looking for one that’s interactive, the New Client Form from Galler.ee may fit your needs, because clients can fill it out and send it to you via email.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
A big mistake many photographers make is that they assume their clients know what to expect from their session. Prepare your clients from moment one about what they’ll need to do, bring, and have, and make it clear what your role is. Chris suggests giving a plethora of resources and information that your clients can use to begin to feel more comfortable about their big day:
– Let clients flip through posing options and communicate with you what they’d like to do (and what they certainly don’t want to do). We like the cards from Design Aglow; they can even be printed into spiral-bound books. (Pssst. Need some new ideas yourself? Check out the Posing App!)
– Be transparent about pricing and ordering procedures. Keep it simple, and share information early and often regarding how much prints and products will cost when it’s all said and done.
Be a Good Partner
When you’re organized, your clients are, too. Do the bride and groom have a wedding planner? Be proactive and work directly with the wedding planner well ahead of the big day. Lay out a timeline of the day and don’t be afraid to speak up about how much time you’ll need to create great imagery for your clients. No planner at this event? Take the lead! Work out a flexible schedule based on the shot list you and the clients have put together (Galler.ee has a nicely-styled one, if you’re in the market). Making someone’s big day run smoothly not only inspires confidence from your clients, but makes the shoot that much easier.
Now it’s time to break out your people skills. For your clients, this is a special moment, and you want to be a part of what makes it so memorable.
Get to know the client before snapping the first picture. Remember that questionnaire from earlier? Use it to your advantage! Engage your client in easy conversation about topics that are of interest to them, and take the pressure off. Use humor to cut any uncomfortable tension (especially if there are little kids involved). Need some more tips? Our friends at Cole’s Classroom have some expert tips on how to warm your clients up before and during a session.
Be the Expert You Are
You know that an 8×10 isn’t the right size to hang over the fireplace, but many of your customers have no concept of what size would be appropriate. Be your clients’ advocate for displaying their portraits wisely (and beautifully). Not only do you build your clients’ confidence by sharing your knowledge and skill, but you, of course, have the opportunity to grow your business when you sell larger items.
Consider investing in a customizable product guide, which explains what your products are and why they’re a good investment (we love this one from Hazy Skies Designs). Or, use a service like Swift Galleries to show clients their images in their actual sizes, right there on their walls. Remember: Making your clients comfortable can be the key to happy sessions. Your business’s foundation is built on trust, so focus on keeping your clients confident throughout the entire process!
Remember: Making your clients comfortable can be the key to happy sessions. Your business’s foundation is built on trust, so focus on keeping your clients confident throughout the entire process!
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