Houston Portrait Photographer, Sarah Borchgrevink Photography, shares how to set your business apart through the best customer service driven experience.
9 Effective tips For Creating An Amazing Client Experience. Be the top ranked photographer in your service area.
Greetings and good morning to you! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read how I create a top notch customer service driven experience for my portraiture clients. My name is Sarah Borchgrevink and I'm a Houston Photographer specializing in gorgeous posed newborn baby sessions. While I love working with dreamy newborns and sweet parents, I recognize this is the "fun" part of my job and running a successful full time business has a lot more to do with customer service than it does with taking pretty pictures.
I've been in business for over 4 years and have worked full time during this time. I average around 20 clients per month, year around, and truly enjoy my interactions with them! This customer service flow is how I retain clients long term and provide a fantastic experience for everyone! It's all about managing clients, their expectations, and answering questions and concerns before they're ever asked. From start to finish, your client should be comfortable, at ease, and know exactly what's going to happen. It's your job to do so.
Please note this is how I personally like to run my own portraiture business. You're free to take this advice with a grain of salt or even implement it into your own work flow. If you notice this works for you, I'd love to hear your own results.
Customer service is important because:
- This is the best way to promote word of mouth referrals for your photography business
- Creates balance in your business
- Creates a superior business plan
- Builds successful relationships with clients
I am happy to say I am the top rated newborn photographer in Houston, via Google, and I set my business apart by providing an amazing experience for my clients.
Nothing puts a smile on my face more than receiving a fantastic review! As a small business owner, these are the ultimate feedback and help you know what you're doing right, wrong, or perhaps can tweak. For example, many of my clients are long term customers and I delight in working with them throughout family milestones such as celebrating their baby bump through a natural light, maternity session, posed newborn portraiture in studio, updated family photos, or a baby plan membership for little one. Reviews like the following are the greatest joy!
“Sarah has photographed our family 7 times in the last 10 months."
We LOVE Sarah! She is phenomenal to work with, so amazing with kids AND our entire extended family! Even at times when I am stressed to the max trying to get our twins to cooperate, Sarah always keeps her cool and gets beautiful shots of our girls. We love Sarah’s style, and her laid back sessions translate into breathtaking digital memories that we will have forever. I cannot say enough positive things about Sarah, we look forward to having Sarah document our family’s milestones for years to come. She is the BEST!
However, you may be wondering, "How do you retain a client for numerous yearly sessions? What makes them return? How do you set yourself apart?" Customer service is key, my friends! Do so with a joyful, giving heart. Love what you do.
1) UP FRONT & TRANSPARENT PRICING
One of the number one things my clients tell me is they love how open and transparent I am about my portraiture investment and collection options. Photography is a luxury service. However, parents often make a decision based on the collections you offer and how open you are with your pricing. For instance, my sister in law is currently pregnant and asked a few questions about booking her own newborn photographer. She lives in another state; while I would love to photograph her sweet baby, I am not able to travel since I myself am about to have another baby, ha! However, I explained a few things she can ask such as if the session fee includes digital files or heirloom prints. Many photographers will list their initial session fee on their website, however, they do not list the cost of products such as full resolution digital files or heirloom prints and products. While every photographer *should* run their business how they see fit, I can attest many of my parents book simply because they know exactly how much their session is going to cost up front. It helps them plan for the investment and know exactly what to expect. I like to make the booking process as easy for parents as possible and knowing what I offer, how much the sessions cost, and if I offer payment plans is a great way for parents to connect with me.
2) PHONE CALL & CHAT TO HEAR ABOUT THEIR NEEDS
Once the client has contacted me through my session inquiry form, I respond to them typically within a few hours or so, however, 24 hours or less is fantastic turnaround time! I invite them to set up a phone chat and consultation so I may hear about their family, child, pregnancy, or what they're looking for. This helps me see if I'm a good fit for them and also allows me to hear their needs. Are they looking for digital files? Are they perhaps interested in heirloom wall art? Do I have availability for them? All of this works together as a song and dance so they're able to select the best option for their portraiture needs. Moreover, it's okay to not be the perfect fit for each inquiry that you encounter. Sometimes you do not offer what they're seeking and that's okay. A quick phone chat immediately lets you know if your client should move forward with booking. If you're not a good fit, it is also great customer service to refer them to another local who you know encompasses what they're looking for. Not only does this promote community over competitetion within the photography field, but best serves the potential client.
3) Studio space tour
After the phone chat, at the very least, show your client photos of your studio space or better yet invite them in for a studio tour. These take about 20-30 minutes and is a great way to connect with your client! It puts a face with a name or voice and helps you get to know them better. I offer this to my newborn clients so they may see the props I have on hand, the types of wall art and prints I offer as an option, as well as getting to know me a little better. Don't forget how nervous your client may be about commissioning someone. It's a big step for them and this helps put your client at ease and make the experience better for them. It also gives them the opportunity to ask any questions, voice concerns, or look over your contract in person. Ultimately, you are providing the best customer service by listening to their needs.
4) FULL GALLERY SAMPLES
Whether you do an in person consultation or e-mail consult, be sure to show your clients full gallery samples of what they're booking. For example, I specialize in three newborn collections: the mini, petite or full session option catering to different budgets. Clients are shown a full gallery before they ever sign a contract. It's important your client see the exact product they're receiving. They should not just see a gallery of pretty newborn images, but instead, a specific collection so they're able to make an informed decision. Your client should never book without full disclosure of what's included. My sample galleries are my way of providing amazing customer service because it removes all doubts from their mind. The clients needs to know what to expect at every stage.
5) LET THEM KNOW EACH STEP IN ADVANCE
Now that you've established trust and a sense of ease with your client, start guiding them through each and every step in advance. The client should know where you're shooting if you're on location, how to find your studio, where to get their hair and make up done or if you offer this service, what type of clothing to wear or if wardrobe is included in your fees, etc. They should also know all of your policies, standards, and expectations in advance. This is where a new client welcome packet is absolutely invaluable! You can cater the packet to your business needs but mine, for instance, covers these topics:
- How/where to sign portraiture contract
- How/where to pay non-refundable retainer
- How/when final payment is due
- What to expect before/during/after session
- Digital file usage + print release
- Social media sharing
- Rescheduling policy at Sarah Borchgrevink Photography
- Tardiness policy
- How to order professional heirloom prints and products
- Retouching and editing policy
- Outdoor, natural light locations from which they may select
- Hair and make up recommendation
- Vendor list for wardrobe as well as sample galleries of nice options
- Contact form inviting them to voice concerns or ask questions
6) GUIDE Throughout SESSION AND ENCOURAGE CLIENT
It's important to remember your client is human and they may be a little unsure during the session itself. They are probably not a professional model. Don't be afraid to encourage your client and give clear direction. Show them what you're asking of them; ask if you can adjust their hair, or give positive feedback. Your client should never feel uncomfortable or awkward. Part of offering the best customer service driven experience is ensuring they have a positive interaction through each moment of the time with you.
7) KEEP TIMELY COMMUNICATION THROUGH CLEAR, CONCISE DEADLINES
This is by far the most important tip: keep timely communication through clear, concise deadlines. Your client is going to be excited about the session, so feel free to let them know the next steps at every point in the session. This is applied to the initial phone consult to when they hang their prints. It's important to let them know your business hours, when you'll be available for calls, when their images will be retouched, how to reach you, when they can expect to see their final product, etc. Keeping deadlines and having awesome communication will clear up any miscommunication before it occurs and will result in fantastic customer service because you're meeting their needs before they even realize they need something. Go above and beyond for each client! This is how you become the best at what you do!
8) FOLLOW UP E-MAIL AFTER SESSION TAKES PLACE
The follow up e-mail does go hand in hand with the clear concise, deadlines but this does warrant it's own explanation. After the session, it's helpful to your client to send a follow up e-mail. I typically do this the morning after the session takes place. It includes the following information:
- Thanking them for their business
- Expressing happiness/joy at working together
- When you can expect a sneak preview and what social media platform it may be found
- What exactly their session includes
- When gallery will be complete
- What you may expect in the gallery
- When you can order prints/products
- Invite to ask questions or voice concerns
- Give a direct link to their contract in case they have any additional questions
- Thank client again for their business and end with your business hours
Since implementing this e-mail, I have really enjoyed my client interactions and have served my clients as well as I possibly can. It clears up any issues that may arise and lets your client know you care.
9) WRITE THANK YOU NOTE AFTER FINAL PRODUCT IS DELIVERED
After the final product is delivered, whether it be digital or prints, write a hand written thank you note. I include this when my clients pick up their prints. Since all of my collections do include a professional set of prints, this is my way of expressing my gratitude and writing about any highlights from our session together. It takes a few minutes only and is a wonderful way to add an intimate gesture to their customer service experience. You can also invite them to come back for another session and perhaps let them know how much you value them! Our clients are everything - the back bone to our business and they deserve to be treated very well.
Thanks for stopping by my blog to read 9 great ways to provide the best customer service! You may also enjoy reading about:
Specializing in posed baby portraits, Sarah Borchgrevink Photography is a Houston Newborn Photographer serving the surrounding areas including Houston metro area, Cypress, Katy, Spring, The Heights, Sugar Land, West University, Bellaire, and The Woodlands, TX. In addition to breathtaking newborn images, Sarah also offers stylish natural light family photography as well as dynamic outdoor maternity sessions for expecting couples.