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If your customer service has been lacking the past year, you aren’t alone. It can be really difficult to run a business right now, and it is especially difficult maintaining excellent customer service when you don’t actually know what next week could bring for your and your business.
Still, pandemic customer service tips are truly not very different from regular customer service tips you should already be using. So, we figured we should create a list of different ways you can implement customer service for photographers into your business in the new year.
Allow Customers to Do an In-Person Consultation
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Customer service is always best in person because you can actually cater your service to each individual customer based on their body language. Plus, a lot of customers still like to do in-person consultations with their photographers to figure out if the two of you will work well together.
As such, my first customer service tip is to still allow customers to meet you for an in-person consultation before booking with you. Now, I understand that in-person consultations can be difficult because you aren’t getting paid for them, which is why I also suggest you should set up one or two days a month (depending upon how busy your business is) to do all of your in-person consultations on the same day.
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As with all of the customer service tips on this list, this one is also multi-faceted because as we continue to conduct more and more business online, a lot of people are not interested in an in-person consultation. They may be okay not speaking to you at all before they hire you. This is why I recommend that while you should offer in-person consultations, you should never make them a requirement. In-person consultations, when they are required, feel a lot more like a sales pitch.
Besides, with the pandemic gripping the world, in-person meetings might not even be allowed in your area. A good alternative would be to “meet” virtually on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or some other video platform.
Invest in Good Face Masks
You want to ensure that you're being as safe as possible when working with clients, and one of the best ways to do that is to have a good face mask to help mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
f-stop makes a superb mask called the Dyota AG+ Ion that is washable, reusable, and has three breathable layers. There's a soft nose guard and adjustable ear loops to improve comfort, and the outer shell, which has a water-resistant treatment, wicks moisture away to help keep it dry.
The center layer is a non-woven poly that protects against particle and liquid penetration, and the innermost layer has a SILVADUR treatment to help prevent odors that result from frequent wear.
These masks are available in a variety of colors and are priced right at $19.99!
Send Automated Reminders
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With all of the customer service technology available today, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be sending automated reminders about sessions. These automated reminders do a couple of jobs.
Firstly, they make sure your client shows up. Depending upon the way your contract was written, this could save you time and money. Secondly, they get your client excited about their session with you.
While there are a ton of automated text message reminder apps available for business owners, I use SuperSaaS, which is free so long as you don’t book more than 50 sessions per month.
A “Thank You” Goes A Long Way
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This is one of those customer service basics that I feel like a lot of people neglect. You should be thanking your clients multiple times while you’re working with them, particularly after they’ve booked a session with you and then immediately after that session.
But, you should also be thanking them more formally after all of your business with them is done. Now, I have written an article all about how you should be giving your clients a free gift after your sessions (and how it shouldn’t cost you a thing) here, but you don’t have to implement this sort of a procedure in order to send a sweet thank you email.
Stick to a Schedule
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Customer service, just like nearly everything else in your business, relies on your ability to stick to a schedule. You will never learn how to attract photography clients if you are unable to keep a calendar, because you will inevitably accidentally blow off an important meeting, and you will never be able to keep existing clients for the same reason because you will likely promise them something on a timetable that you can’t stick to.
Whenever you give a client a date that they can expect anything for, you need to immediately put that date in whatever calendar system you use. If the deliverable is something that you need to prep for, then it should also be in your calendar a few separate times leading up to the date so you don’t forget about it.
Ask for Feedback
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You can’t work on your customer service if you actually don’t know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, so you need to ask for feedback.
Now, I understand how daunting it is to ask clients, especially new clients, what they thought of working for you in person. Likely, unless you have an ongoing relationship with that client, they won’t be honest in person anyways.
So, to get around this customer service roadblock, you should take 15-30 minutes out of your schedule right now to create a survey that you can shoot over to clients after you’ve finished working with them.
You need to put honest (and negatively phrased) questions on it if you hope to hear the good, alongside the bad. You also need to be prepared to hear some negative reviews. But, if you’ve been working in the photography industry for a while, you likely already know what this is like from reading Yelp.
Only Work With Suppliers Who Also Have Great Customer Service
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This is one of my favorite photography business tips and it’s also one of my favorite customer service tips: only work with people who care about customer service as much as you do.
Think about it, if you’re trying to stick to a schedule for a deliverable for one of your clients, but you had to outsource that deliverable, if the company you’re working with doesn’t have good customer service, then it could really come back to haunt your business.
This is one of the reasons why I started working with CanvasHQ a couple of years ago. CanvasHQ specializes in creating high-quality canvases, but their customer service team is one of the most responsive I’ve ever worked with.
Not only is there a countdown on their website which lets you know exactly how long the production time on your canvas would be if you sent it in today, but their customer service team is always a click away via the LiveChat text box on their website.
I’ve never particularly liked working with mega-corporations because I’ve found their customer service to be lacking, so when I found CanvasHQ and started working with them, I immediately knew that they were a small, family-owned company because of the great attention to detail they pay to every one of their pieces.
Great customer service. Timely deliverables. Beautiful prints for your clients. What’s not to like about that?! It’s no wonder that CanvasHQ is our reigning best canvas print company two years running!