3 Things You HAVE to do to ensure you don’t have impatient clients! A few questions that I have heard over and over from people waiting on their photographer are:
These are all examples of clients who are asking for advice about how to communicate with their photographer or when to communicate to their photographer that they really want their pictures.
Some may be impatient clients and some may really have had to wait too long. Some might feel forgotten and disappointed and some might just want the information so they have an expectation.
I LOVE professional photos and get them taken multiple times a year for my business and my family, so I completely understand. It is always so exciting getting new photos, that I am on pins and needles as soon as the session ends until the final photos are in my inbox and I can start printing them and planning where they will go in my house. I have experience and I know the process. But what I most often see is that it boils down to open communication from you, the photographer, explaining exactly when clients can expect their photos and what the time frame is. And then deliver on time.
As a business owner, we all have good intentions. Not one of us sets out thinking, hmmm, today I am just not going to work on “insert client’s name and project” because I would love for them to get upset and send me angry messages. And if you have thought that then BE SURE TO KEEP READING! However, the balance of our work life and our home life can get hard. I am sure you want to turn photos around quickly and deliver an amazing experience but you also have other clients to shoot, a family you want to spend time with, and a backlog of editing.
It can be hard and you can feel so torn, but I have some really practical steps you can take to proactively avoid this situation and keep your clients happy and singing your praises.
It’s important that you—as the professional directing this client experience—tell clients the form of communication you use (i.e. email, text, or both), how often you check your messages, and how soon they can expect a reply from you. If you don’t like being tied to your phone, don’t give out a phone number. If email is your worst nightmare, make it clear that you don’t answer emails regularly.
You need to lead the way and communicate your expectations so that clients aren’t taking to social media asking advice because they haven’t heard from you or wondering if they should call or text because they haven’t received a reply to an email.
Now, the key to this is that you STICK to the boundary you set. If you prefer email communication and check it twice a day at 9 a.m. and 2p.myou shouldn’t respond to messages and carry on conversations via an alternate method or at a time you don’t want them taking place.
If clients do contact you via another form, gently but clearly direct them to your email. You can politely say: “let’s carry on this conversation in my inbox so that I can keep everything organized and know exactly where I’m at with each project. I’ll shoot you an email now.” Just be honest about why you keep communication in one place and communicate how that benefits them.
In my own business, I use Honeybook to house all of my conversations. My branding and design clients receive the emails in their inbox or can log in to their account and follow along with all conversations surrounding the project.
When you set these boundaries, always provide a message on each social media platform that leads clients to your preferred choice.
For example, Facebook Messenger is a hard one for me. It gets messy with personal messages and my business page, so I have an automated message on my business page that directs people to my contact page on my website. This way they know I am not the best at communicating there. I tell them where I am and I give a brief why. Nine times out of ten people message me on my website after.
Photographer Pros: Doing this keeps you organized. You don’t have to try to remember if you responded to each message or where to look for the details you remember getting.
Client Pros: Clients don’t have to wonder when or if they will get a response when they contact you. The communication lines are clearly laid out and they will know where and when they can expect a response. Clients appreciate clear lines of communication.
Don’t send a 50-page download at the beginning of your client experience. Ain’t nobody got time for that! We live in a world of hustle, scanning, and barely paying full attention to anything we read. We are inundated with information at every turn, so if you send all of the information at once, your clients may not process it all or even read it.
Break up the communication into bite-sized chunks at specific times from the minute they contact until you deliver the final images so that your clients feel regularly communicated with and stay super warm and excited about working with you. Only provide them what they need to know then but always tell them more is to come.
So in your welcome packet, send them information on your communication practices and boundaries, office hours and response times, package details, and how they can book. This will be everything they need to make an informed decision.
Then, the next step is to give them the next round of information they’re going to need. Talk to them about the process they will go through, timelines, payment policies, and more.
Then serve them with education throughout the experience like what to wear packets, what to expect guides for each service that layout how sessions will work, and information on what they can do to prepare. You can make separate guides, blog posts, or hidden pages on your website to send to them throughout your experience.
Always tell them what comes next, so they’re not left wondering or jump ahead with a bunch of questions because you haven’t addressed that you’re going to send something that will answer all of their questions.
Photographer Pros: You will have fewer questions to answer and they will have fewer questions to send you. Plus, they’ll really think you have your ducks all in a row!
Client Pros: This allows clients to feel supported throughout their experience with you and really feel taken care of in an exceptional way.
So even if you make a mistake, if you get completely off schedule, or if you have no idea what you are doing, don’t ever just ignore the client. This is when he or she gets worried, freaks out, over-communicates, tells all of their friends what happened, and can ultimately lead to a bad review.
Open communication and vulnerability during the good and the bad times are what great client experiences are made of. At our best, we are always excited to communicate and at our worst moments, we can dread it and then put it off. This can leave the clients feeling like they are annoying us, like we have forgotten them, or even as if we don’t even care that they are our client.
What we can do to help this is having canned email responses ready for each step of the way. This allows you to have the same excitement with each client and with each email plus you can add in more personality when you want to.
I have a set of 15+ photographer workflow email templates that can be used in your workflow to clearly communicate throughout the process, and make clients feel super loved and important. Plus I even have an “I messed up” template so you can own any mistake, but keep it a positive step along the way.
Even impatient clients can respond with empathy as long as we are open and don’t leave them hanging 🙂 I have been there. I have been told my photos will be coming at 3 weeks, I have waited for 5 weeks to message, then nothing but air. At seven weeks, I’ve messaged again, then been told they are coming soon. Then, finally, after 10 weeks, I got them. THIS was torture, especially since I had plans for the photos and needed them at the original turnaround date. Under promise and over deliver every single time.
Photographer Pros: This will save you time, keep you prepared every step of the way, and never leave you stuck for what to say when you’ve dropped the ball or made a mistake.
Client Pros: Clients won’t feel like you’ve taken their money and ran, seriously forgotten about that, or don’t care about their concerns and expectations.
Now, how do you take these tips and make them a reality so you never have to deal with an impatient client again OR if you do, can kindly direct them to the timeframe you communicated from the beginning?
The first step you can take is to check out my photographer welcome guide and after-booking guide templates in my product shop. These beautifully designed, “made especially for photographers” guides are already templated (including professional copy you can personalize) with where to communicate your boundaries, office hours, package information, processes, payment terms, and more.
The welcome packet includes everything a new inquiry needs to know to book you with confidence and believe that you’ll deliver every step of the way.
The after-booking client guide includes everything your new client needs to know to STAY excited, informed, get prepared, and rave about you every step of the way.
Hearts and Hoorays!
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