Going the extra mile
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Going the extra mile-a doctor on his rounds in the UK. © John Robertson.

From guest blogger (c) John Robertson for the PhotoBizCoach

The photography business is just like any other. What brings clients and customers back for return business is satisfaction and a job well done. Whilst the creative side should be a given, photographers should not forget to also concentrate on the customer experience.

Put yourself in the shoes of your client. Imagine how they would rate you as a professional. Did you deliver on time? Were the results creative and the best you could possibly deliver? During the shoot were you helpful and friendly? Were you appropriately dressed? My last comment may seem a bit strange but some wedding photographers turn up in jeans and t-shirt.  I’ve personally witnessed news photographers that were turned away from events where a suit and tie were requirements of entry. Going the extra mile means checking out the dress code before the job and going with it rather than resisting it and standing out as an ‘arty luvvie’ or ‘very artistic.’

We all have bad days and some clients can be a pain – but during a shoot we must be professional meaning we need to be helpful and enthusiastic. Nobody is going to remember a grumpy photographer or consider us for future work so remember to smile now and then! Practical example? This month I shot a video of a guy practicing for his crossing the Irish Sea on a home-made ‘hamster wheel’. By the time he had finished he was pretty worn out so I helped him and his team to disassemble the contraption and gave them a hand with loading it up on his trailer. I could have just left him to it and not considered it part of my job, but that wouldn’t have resulted in him thanking me by e-mail next day and remembering me most likely for years to come as exceptionally helpful.

There are thousands of photographers out there. You have to stand out from them and make the customer choose you for repeat business. No job should be considered dull and boring even if it is! Make those boring shoots more interesting by using your creativity – it is after all the reason you were hired. One of my simple tricks that adds a little incentive is to set myself the goal to get a photo good enough for my portfolio from EVERY job, however difficult that may seem.

Above all else,  be a people person and responsive to your client’s needs. Here is another recent example. Last night a regular client thanked me for the photos I took at a conference and award ceremony where “the photographs produced in the past were often deadly dull and boring.”  This is not an event that I’d covered before, but following my self imposed challenge I managed to get shots showing an animated response from the audience to the speakers. In addition I used a little clever lighting trick (if I may say so myself) to get an unusual photo of the winner. The photos were interesting and not dull and boring.

It’s all about walking the walk and then talking the talk. This past weekend I covered a wedding where the registrar laid down the law to me because she had in the past suffered from a bad experience with photographers. With that stern warning in mind, I took the trouble to investigate what the problem had been and went through great length to ensured it didn’t happen this time. I made sure that connected with her and thanked her after the ceremony once again so that she would have a positive encounter to remember. The bad experience from before? A photographer who ordered the wedding guests around as the boss of the place and even rested his camera on the registrar’s shoulder as a kind of makeshift tripod while she did her job!

The customer experience doesn’t end after the shoot. You need to conclude the job AND follow up by phone or e-mail to check they are happy with what you delivered. Or even better, use one of my tricks, a simple ‘Thank-you for your business’ card with a nice image, possibly from the shoot. Paying attention to details and great customer service will make your photography business more successful.

Let me know what you do to ensure that your clients have a memorable experience with you on your shoot. I’d love to hear about your examples!


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