Something that we photographers tend to be fantastic at is focusing on our work and all of the things that can make our images better. We love investing in the latest and greatest gear, education to improve our photography, and editing tools to ensure the final product is perfect. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But I think all too often we miss out on the KEY FACTOR that makes couples fall in love (and STAY IN LOVE!) with our brand: and that’s the CLIENT EXPERIENCE!
Client experience (or CX) is one of those crucial components of business that involves every interaction you could potentially have with your brides and grooms. It is “your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle” (SAS, “Customer Experience Management). And like it or not, a client’s perception of you and your brand IS your reality!
Why is client experience so important? Well, in this day and age, companies that are investing more into their client experience are the ones that experience greater overall success! They report higher sales and lowered costs because, by creating memorable client experiences, they create advocates and cheerleaders! IE: WORD-OF-MOUTH REFERRALS! That is huge! And for us small business owners, doesn’t it just feel amazing having former brides and grooms singing your praises from the rooftops? Yes, it’s great for business – but it also just feels so wonderful having a community of loyal couples in your corner!
Start with YOU
Clients always want the best product and the best value – but they also want to invest in something/someone they can really relate to. That’s why it’s so important to market your brand with sincerity and honesty. Do you have a witty, sarcastic sense of humor? Use that in your Instagram posts! Do you love sharing photos of your family? People LOVE that! Whatever it is, make sure that your brand is uniquely and consistently YOU from the beginning to the end. The sense of personal validation that couples (and we!) receive from establishing a connection from the beginning sets the tone for the rest of your client experience.
Make it Easy Breezy
Everyone has crazy busy lifestyles these days, so one of the most important things you can do for your couples is to make their experience with you EASY and STRESS-FREE.
- Invest in a website with clear direction and call to action. Couples don’t want to hunt around for your galleries and pricing. Eliminate the work with clear direction on where they should go for details and contact information.
- Create packages that are simple and easy to understand. I personally have three collections, but I know MANY photographers who offer just one!
- Make the booking process a breeze. I recommend having your entire booking process online – everything from signing their contract to paying their invoice. They should also be able to access that information at any point without having to ask for it again. (Side note – if you are not currently investing in a client management system, such as 17hats – look into it now!)
- Provide assistance on engagement session planning/timeline planning before they ask. I’ve begun offering a printed Bridal Guide for all couples who book with me that walks them through the entire experience. It’s a tangible AND packed with helpful information! If you’re not ready for that step just yet, you could also create several blog posts with helpful tips and hints!
- Make gallery viewing and downloading easy. Self explanatory – but you don’t want your couples and their family being frustrated when trying to download their beautiful photos. Organize the images into categories, make them chronological…and my best piece of advice is to upload your favorites separately into the first section! This way, they will land on the favorites FIRST, making the first impression one that is beautiful and curated!
Positive Vibes Only!
This should probably be a no-brainer, but you want to be remembered for making clients feel happy, uplifted, and valued. The thing that I hear most often in my reviews from brides is how positive I was throughout the whole wedding process. To me, this is the biggest compliment I could receive! You could deliver a gallery of stunning photos, but if your clients remember you for being a Negative Nancy, you can guess how they’ll feel about their end product.
Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So with that in mind, we should absolutely strive to make our brides and grooms feel like a million bucks! Here are some ways to make your client experience more positive:
- All communication should be positive, encouraging, and carry a “can-do” attitude. I could go on and on about this! But with every email, phone call, and personal interaction, your couples should feel that you are on their team (both personally and professionally).
- Express your gratitude often. Allow your couples to hear how excited you are for their wedding and how honored you are to be working with them. I would even encourage a hand-written note or a thank-you gift, especially for those that send you referrals! Everyone likes a date night gift card!
- Remain positive and upbeat on their wedding day! I know that not everyone is super talkative/bubbly/etc. But no matter what your personality, YOU CAN be a source of positivity and calm on a bride’s big day! (On that note, MAKE SURE that anyone you hire shares your same energy. When I hire second shooters and associates, this is literally the first thing that I check off before continuing the conversation!)
Follow Up Often
It’s really easy to book a wedding and then move on to the next lead. I’d recommend being in touch throughout the entire wedding process to make the client experience more personal! Here are some easy ways to make that happen so that you’re constantly communicating with your brides and grooms!
- Follow up during the inquiry process. Wedding planning is busy and stressful, and brides get TONS of emails from vendors about various services! However, not all of them are following up! I recommend following up at least 1-2 times just to check in and make sure they don’t have any additional questions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been thanked for doing this! You want your couples to feel like you actually want to work with them (if you’re qualified for one another, of course!) and that can start from step one!
- Send an email or two depending on how far out their wedding date is. In addition to the preparation emails making the entire photography process easy, you can just check in every now and then to see how planning and life in general is going! This adds a personal touch, showing your clients that you truly care. (Sometimes you’ll have brides that rely on you a bit more for questions/opinions/advice, so maybe you don’t need to initiate quite as much.)
- Send prep emails prior to engagements/bridals/weddings. These are so helpful for couples! I send these about a week out from each session or wedding. Most of this contains information that we’ve gone over, but I like sending them just so that couples know they are fresh on my mind! To make it quick and easy, I recommend implementing Gmail’s canned responses in your workflow!
- Stay in touch via social media. This is so easy to do in today’s digital age! I LOVE connecting with brides and grooms on Facebook and Instagram. When it is all said and done, most of my couples feel more like friends! That said, I totally understand that some of y’all aren’t comfortable “friending” clients on Facebook. If this weirds you out a bit and that’s just not you, don’t force it!
Creating a great client experience can only be beneficial to all of us small business owners! I sincerely hope this post has you thinking about some ways you can improve on yours today! If you have any thoughts/suggestions to add, I’d love to hear about them – comment below!