You probably got into photography because you liked taking photos.
And you probably started photographing people because you were bored with landscapes and close-ups of flowers. That… or someone offered to pay you.
But the more you photograph people (and the more you get paid for it), the more you’ll realize that this isn’t really a business about photography. It’s about customer service.
The sooner you accept that and embrace that little part of yourself that wants to make people happy, the sooner you can really make a living off of photography.
Customer service can delve up images of annoyingly-long service center calls, or having to ask to speak to a manager at a restaurant. Luckily for us, it’s really much simpler than that. Our clients just want to feel noticed, appreciated, and understood. Below are a few small ways you can make that happen.
Be Swift Like a Fox
Nobody really enjoys responding to phone calls or emails (if you do, just… go away). But every moment you don’t respond to a question or inquiry is a moment where your potential client could be contacting someone else.
When I was a bride trying to hire vendors, I felt really overwhelmed by all the options. Sometimes I was just looking for any reason to cross someone off the list. That reason might have been that they took longer than 5 hours to get back to me. Sorry, but in today’s age of instant gratification, speediness is key.
I try to respond to all inquiries, phone calls, and emails as soon as I see them. Even if I’m out of the office and busy, I’ll at least send over a quick email thanking them for contacting me, and giving them an idea of when I will get back to them. You wouldn’t believe how many clients mention this as one of the reasons they hired me.
Wondering about using an auto responder? Don’t do it. Seriously. Just stop. Nobody likes receiving those, and you’re losing out on the personal touch of a real email.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
In every moment and every client interaction, you should always be striving to put your client first. Try to think of all the little ways you can make their life and their wedding planning just a tiny bit easier, and you’ll be on the right track.
Is there one thing that always seems to be a problem on wedding days (like, nobody can ever figure out how to lace up the dress)? Do your research and become a master, so the next time the problem arises, you can step in and give appropriate guidance.
Are you sending a potential client home with a contract to look over? Try including a self-addressed and stamped envelope to make mailing it back a breeze.
Are you frustrated by summer photo shoots because the children quickly become hot and whiny? Think of items that might help, and bring them along. This could include a small snack, cold bottled water, and a fun activity (bubbles and hula hoops look great in photos).
Is your client unsure of where they’d like to do their photos? Try doing a little location scouting on their behalf and sending them some suggestions (with photos attached).
Oh, There’s More
You didn’t think I’d end it here, did you? Tune in next week for Part II where we’ll give some tips for dealing with clients during and after their session.
Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear about how you’re putting your client first!
*All Photos by Kelly Benton Photography.