Client experience IS your brand, right?! So when it comes to unpacking your photography client experience and creating one that treats your clients like royalty so they rave about you and come back again and again, there are many touchpoints and steps to outline and walkthrough.
At the end of this, I’m going to give you the opportunity to do just that with me in a free, 7-day challenge, but before we do that, I want to dive into some of the most important questions about the client experience that you’ve likely never seen rounded up in a blog post.
Imagine we’re sitting together at a live, in-person masterclass. The microphone is being passed around the room and I’m addressing the top client experience challenges that are keeping you from serving your clients the way you want to or from operating from a place of authority and leadership in your business when it comes to your client experience.
Okay, so we’re imagining the microphone is on. I’m smiling at you from the stage and the floor is yours. Let’s dive into the Q&A action.
When it comes to communication, we all have “been there, done that!” Each one of us is guilty of responding outside of our normal business hours and then continuing the conversation long after the initial response.
While the most important thing for us is to respond to our clients so they feel heard, understood, and prioritized, we have to set the boundaries (and communicate those boundaries!) on when they can expect a response and when we will be “on hand” for a call or a conversation.
The very first time that we respond outside of our business hours, we give our clients free access to us at any time of the day or night and we do not want to be tied to our phones and missing out on our own lives for the lives of our clients. Treating our clients like royalty does not mean we have to respond to every beck and call.
So how do we fix this? I have two simple fixes for you:
This means that every time your client receives communication from you, those hours are front and center. Your client won’t be surprised when you don’t respond right away or feel like you have abandoned them.\
While we all know our clients will always have questions, we can outline our process, detail how we will keep them informed, when they can expect to hear back from us, and answer questions along the way.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your clients will only reach out during your office hours, but it does mean that you are not expected to respond to messages outside of the hours you have provided— and if you do—that’s on you! What this does communicate is that you will be accessible (within reason) and that you’re an expert who runs a really refined and structured business.
So many of us business owners think that going “above and beyond” to serve our clients means that we have to respond instantly or be “always on” for them. That’s simply not true. When your business hours and response times are part of your initial and ongoing communication, you can serve your clients effectively and outline more effective ways to go “above and beyond” that don’t involve 24/7 access to you or your team.
For example, if you’re a photographer and a mom texts you at 8pm with the outfits she’s considering for her family session, you don’t have reply at 8pm, but you can reply at 8am or whenever your business hours our with a fun and cheery message that lets her know it’s now your office hours and you wanted to get back to her first thing regarding the outfits.
When it comes to my own business communication, Honeybook is a huge part of it. All of my client correspondence takes place within the platform, my signature includes my office hours and communication turnaround, and all communication is in one place keeps us organized and super efficient.
Okay, on to the next question…
Well, here is a hard-hitting question—did you give them both the same experience?
I think the best way to answer this question is to be completely honest with yourself. Did you drop the ball anywhere? Did you love on them both the same? Did you go above and beyond for each client? We all make mistakes, but the way for us to combat feelings of letting people down is to have a strategically planned out client experience where we know that we are providing everyone who works with us the exact same experience every single time. From the initial inquiry to the final thank you, each client deserves to feel like your one and only.
Clients want to know you are invested in them and not just squeezing them in where you can fit them. By planning out each step in your client experience, you will have a detailed flow to make sure you are sending each client:
When your photography client experience is laid out, you’ll know exactly where you are with each client, how you need to plan your days, and have the confidence that you’ll earn repeat business and clients for life. Bonus, creating a detailed workflow in Honeybook is exactly how I know where I am with each client and that I am providing the same experience for everyone!
Right, let’s dive into the next question…
If the same question is being asked by each of your clients, then there is a HUGE opportunity for educating them on this topic in your client experience. This could mean that if the same question is included in your initial inquiry every time, it should be added to your website copy OR you could be sharing about it organically on social media.
If the same question is popping up after your clients have booked you, that’s a good indication you need to create some brand collateral that can educate them on this topic and arrange to have it included in your workflow at the right time so they are provided the information as needed and not bombarded with a million things at the beginning.
It may also be as simple as blogging on the topic and including your top three most popular posts in your email signature or on your services page on your website. The secret here is that they might not be your most popular posts, but they are the most important and you can guide your clients to read these in many different ways (i.e. including and sharing links in emails), positioning them on your website so it is organic and helps clients come in with the knowledge ahead of time, or recreating a guide (or separate page on your website) to email to your client at a point during your process where that information is needed.
You can have your client experience and workflow already set up in Honeybook, so you’re literally serving your clients with information, education, and support automatically. When it comes to providing the right information in the right places, Honeybook is the best!
I know exactly what you are saying. It is hard as a brand experience designer to even know what to include in my own packages because I want everything to be used and well thought out.
So in all of my experience as a client and a designer, the most important thing I can say is to take the time to plan it all out. Sit down and map out how you want your experience to go and what you need to provide to your clients. When you have this mapped out, you can easily go in and mark where you can add brand collateral and how this will elevate your photography client experience with your clients.
Then, create a checklist and work on them one by one. When we head over to template shops and purchase big packages or “pretty” templates they might not be exactly what we need. Then we waste time customizing them, waste money purchasing them, and can even waste our clients time by sending it to them “just because.” BUT when we have well-planned, well-thought-out brand collateral, we will save money, time, and our clients will be informed and taken care of because you have delivered just what they need, remained top of mind with brand recognition, and you know you are providing an experience that leads them to want to work with you again and again!
We have to provide what is relevant to our own custom experience and NOT just send items and information because it looks good or it is what everyone else is doing. BUT—I will put this little birdie in your ear, I firmly believe that all businesses need to have a Welcome Packet that they include in their initial inquiry response. This makes you so much more professional by answering questions clients might have, providing any information about how you work and what they can look forward to, and creating that connection from the start so they know you are going to provide this kind of elevated experience throughout your time together.
Setting the tone is so important but carrying it through is where the money is at! I do want to also say that creating a welcome packet that includes everything and the kitchen sink is not going to help you either. We all know that these days we are all so busy. Not one single person is going to sit down and read through a 50-page guide to working with you. So you have to be strategic at what you include, send collateral out in steps or pieces so it is digestible, and provide only what they need to know at the time and then build on it. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and theirs because you know they will respond with questions because they didn’t read it and you will then have to take the time to educate them all over again. Big mistake – huge! (as says Pretty Woman)
Awesome, let’s get to the next question.
Can I get an amen for everyone who identifies with the “Champagne taste on a beer budget” analogy?! So many of us want to do more, but are limited by funds (or if that’s not currently your business, you’ve been there).
The truth is that providing an elevated photography client experience doesn’t mean spending money, it means providing clients with an experience that makes them feel loved, delivered as promised, and at home (you know what it feels like to be at home—sitting all curled up with a cozy throw and a big mug of something warm and delicious?).
So how do you make your clients feel this way? With a planned out process that provides all of the information they need, when they need it, giving them a level of support and comfort one experiences in a warm and loving home environment.
One way to make your clients feel loved is to thank them graciously and generously, which means showing your appreciation more than once in more than one way. A personalized thank you right after a session, detailing a heartfelt moment that happened is a great way to be generous with your gratitude. Sending a handwritten thank you note at the end of your time together is super powerful and even better when it’s mailed (who doesn’t love getting real mail, right?!)
If you can’t afford a small gift, include a referral card with a small discount for another session or a discount for a family member or friend so they can then tell everyone about you and your service. Seems simple right? But when it is branded, personalized, and from the heart, it makes people feel warm, cozy, and filled to the brim.
Even if you don’t have a large “client gift giving” budget, there are many opportunities to send personalized gifts that won’t break the bank. Tax law currently limits client gifts to $25 for a deduction; but fun gift certificates from local businesses, personalized products with a photo from your session, or even a quick little Starbucks gift card are perfect. “Thank you for choosing me!” gifts sure make people smile.
I send small personalized gifts to my clients after we wrap up our time together and believe me—my clients love it. Not only are they surprised and touched by the thoughtfulness around it, but more times than not they share an image of it on social media and tag me, because I include a handwritten note with my social handles on it. So, sending some client love also doubles as free marketing, which gets them talking and sharing about how much they love you! Win-Win!
Now, before we wrap up this mini Q&A session, I do want to share one extra bit of wisdom.
This means that instead of just automating the heck out of your process, be sure to include real moments where clients can connect directly with you. Creating a connection with your brand and website so visitors know who you are from the start is only the beginning. By continuing the connection with clients before they work with you, you ease some of those “new client nervous nellies” at your session because clients feel like they already know you.
When you create that connection, however, it’s important that it’s an authentic one. Showing up as who we really are on the day of the session is so important. If you pretend to be someone you are not online and via email, clients will sense a big disconnect and leave confused.
So, when you create personalized touchpoints and show up as yourself, you truly show your clients that you have integrity and are invested in them. And, integrity and investment are two great pillars for a royal client experience.
If you want to create a better client experience that truly serves your clients, communicates your heart of gratitude and commitment, and attracts more clients to book you, I invite you to sign up for my free “7 Days to an Elevated Client Experience” challenge.
In this 7-day challenge, I’m personally delivering a daily tip to your inbox with small actionable steps you can take that day to improve your photography client experience.
Hearts and Hoorays!
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