Managing a good photography business does not rely solely on having excellent photography skills. As I've discovered in my time around Roanoke and Raleigh, offering and maintaining exceptional customer service is a key part to running a business in photography. Even if you have a well organized business, take great photos, advertise, and manage your finances, you really won’t see growth in your business until you learn how to have relationships with your clients. This is not hard to implement into your business, but it does require effort and a focus on putting your client first. In the following paragraphs, I have listed a few ways to improve your customer service.
Communication with your Team and Client
This is perhaps the most important factor in your client relationships and customer service. How you communicate with clients will either make or break your customer service. First, remember that your communication with clients should always be timely and consistent. If you receive an email from a client, try your best to respond in a timely manner. You shouldn’t wait longer than 24 hours to email someone back. Create consistency in your customer service by emailing and following up frequently. You don’t have to overwhelm your customers with a ton of emails, but find a good way to stay in contact.
In addition to being timely and consistent, always remember to be considerate of the client’s needs when communicating with them and focus on how you can best fulfill those needs. If you have this mindset, it will show through in the way you talk with a client. In a world full of photographers, you need to distinguish yourself. Genuinely caring and putting your clients first is a great way to stand out in a crowd of photographers.
Set Expectations on Deliverables
When communicating with clients, make sure you set their expectations well so there is no miscommunication between you and your customer. If you assume a client knows something and you don't communicate something well, then your client’s expectations won’t line up with your expectations. Be very clear and tell them exactly what they should expect upfront so there is no confusion. In particular, focus on explaining your timelines, prices, availability, and the finished product. If you have a website, you can explain your policies so that potential customers visiting your page can have a general idea of what you have to offer. When you communicate personally with a client, go over all the details in those four areas to avoid any miscommunication. Always remember that clients will already have preset expectations from previous photographers or their own opinions, so be sure not to leave any details uncovered.
Go the Extra Mile
Going the extra mile is a great way to show a genuine care for individual clients. It doesn’t have to be much, but show an effort in what you do and go above and beyond their expectations. You want this to communicate that you care about them as people, and not just customers. Think about applicable ways you can go the extra mile in your own photography business. For instance, if you set a timeline expectation of two weeks to edit and send a client their photos, try to do it in one week. Surprise your customers with your willingness to go beyond their expectations.
Always put yourself in the shoes of your client. Try to understand what they need and try to meet those expectations in exceptional ways. Doing this will set your photography business apart from others and ultimately start to increase your client base. These are only a few ways to increase the quality of your customer service, but putting these into practice will drastically help your business.