Client experience, it’s vital to your photography business. Let’s plan your client journey!
I thought that this topic would be really helpful for you, especially as we close out one year and start preparing for a new year with our clients. Today you’re getting some insight into how to build out your client journey step by step.
For those of you wanting to go a little bit deeper & pair your client journey with branding and organic marketing strategies, definitely go check out the blueprint program.
Today we’re talking about eliminating your competition with an exceptional client experience.
I love this quote: “people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. And I bet every single one of you are nodding your head and can agree with this quote from Maya Angelou. Yes, absolutely we can all relate to this.
This is really important in the business world as well. If you can think of an experience in particular, where you, maybe you went shopping, or you went to a restaurant, or you’re trying to do business with someone, and they treated you horribly, or they kind of just neglected that you were even there, you remember that.
I bet if you had a negative experience, you probably told yourself, you were never going back.
This happens in our industry every single day.
Your client experience is very, very important to your business. People don’t typically rave about a good or mediocre experience. They rave about an exceptional experience, and they talk about a bad experience.
I want to talk about reviews for just a quick second; I don’t have a problem having my clients tag me in their photos, I’m not having to beg my clients to leave me a review or to talk about me or to talk about their experience with me. They just do it.
I believe it’s because they are walking away with an exceptional experience with me.
Now do all of my clients do this? No, but a good majority of them do.
If you are right now struggling to get people to shout you out, leave a review, talk about you or refer you to their friends and family, it might be because they only had a good or a mediocre experience. Or maybe they’re not even really having the experience that they should be, maybe they aren’t having their expectations met in a way that they thought that they would.
Today, I want to turn that around for you.
What is a client experience?
A client experience is the impression that your clients have about your brand as a whole throughout every single step of their client journey. Your client experience is basically how you are making someone feel. It’s not just how they feel about their photography session, it reflects back to how you’re making them feel about your photography brand as a whole.
What I love about client experiences is that you are able to tweak it depending on what your niche is, you are able to tweak your experience to directly meet that ideal client.
Do you guys to really dig deep and really go all in with one type of person?
It’s really hard to create client experiences for five different types of photography.
You can absolutely brand yourself and create a client experience when you know exactly what path you’re about to walk down.
A happy client is one who will likely become a loyal client.
If you can impress your clients, that is how you get loyal clients. You don’t need a client per day, a lot of us are really working between 10-100 clients, MAX. That’s all we really need in a year.
If you’re really good at what you’re doing, or you’re in a niche where you can have repeat clients (which is something that I also teach) then you will be able to have loyal clients and you won’t have to work so hard to market!
Can I get an amen for that?
Amen for not having to market so dang hard on the internet. The best marketing strategy for your business is a client who will promote your business for you, the one who is loyal and advocates for your business freely without having to be told, without having to be asked.
This is your number one marketing strategy.
How do you create loyal and raving clients like this?
Well, you’ve got to create your client’s journey.
Let me preface this with how you create loyal and raving clients, you have to know your niche, and you have to specialize, and you have to know your X Factor, and then you’re going to create this beautiful client journey.
It starts a little bit before the inquiry even happens and happens at the first touch point. It starts as soon as they see your images or when someone else shares about their experience with you, and showcase the images that you took, it could be a social media post, maybe they found you on Instagram, or Facebook, it could be a Google search, or they came across your website.
It’s very important that you understand that your brand + your client experience, they matter.
When you’re planning your client journey out, there are three things that matter:
We’re going to break all three of these things down because they all tie in together.
Do you want clients who rave about you, you’ve got to earn their trust.
If you want clients who really feel taken care of, there has to be communication.
If you are wanting to have clients that really say you go above and beyond, you’ve got to literally go above and beyond their expectations.
Communication is so important. I don’t know about you, but in my relationships (especially my marriage) communication weighs heavily because where there is poor communication, there is less trust, and from there the letdown of expectations.
Using dating metaphors or marriage metaphors for when you’re working with clients because it really is a relationship, they really do need you to communicate with them.
If you’re getting disappointed that your clients are not showing up to the session wearing things that you wanted them to wear, it’s probably a lack of communication or a lack of trust. It’s one of the two.
How are you currently responding to your leads and inquiries?
Are your leads waiting an extended period of time for a response?
One of the factors that someone is going to use when deciding to work with you or not, is how long did they have to wait to hear back from you. I recommend having an auto responder for all of the leads that come in via your contact form and your email.
An auto responder does not necessarily mean that it has to be like a robot and no personalization, it literally just means that when someone inquires, you’re sending them an email that gives them a reasonable expectation for when they can receive a response from you.
“Hey, Amber, just wanted to let you know that your inquiry has landed safely in my inbox, and you can expect to hear from me [insert your business hours], I can’t wait to get to know you and potentially work with you”.
Another thing that I do in my autoresponders is: “in case you missed it, here is a link to my investment guide, feel free to look it over, if you decide to go ahead and book with me from there, here’s the link to do that” [insert a button to your calendar].
Clients literally book themselves on autopilot all the time. Just because clients book without us being involved does not mean we can’t reach out & communicate further. If your clients are booking on the weekend, you should be sending out a text or email (whichever is your preferred method of communicating) with a personal response, “hey, Amber, I saw you booked a session with me on [insert date + time], I can’t wait to get to know you more! Here’s what to expect next from me”.
You need to be responding within 24 hours on your workdays.
This does not apply to the weekends, we’ve got to normalize not working on the weekends. If you have crazy, difficult clients that literally can’t wait for you to get back to them on Monday, they shouldn’t be your client anyway.
I use Iris Works for my autoresponder + booking calendar. If you’re looking for a system to help automate the backend of your business, check out Iris Works! If after your free trial, you end up loving it, I have a discount code that will get you 20% off for a year. Code: BROOKE.
Trust. Trust is huge, huge, huge in your business.
You are always trying to gain your clients trust, this happens long before the session ever takes place.
One thing I want you to check yourself on is this: if you say you’re going to do something, do you do it?
What I mean is, if you tell the client, you’re going to send them a styling guide, do you actually do it? If you tell the client that you’re going to send them your calendar, or like a 20-minute time to book a styling session with you? Do you do it?
Or do you keep forgetting and you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I got busy.
You’re going to break your clients trust if you’re not actually following through with what you’re saying.
This happens a lot. This happens to me, as a photographer, booking photographers. A lot of times they’ll say that they’re going to do certain things, and, yet I feel like I get the short end of the stick because they just assumed because I’m a photographer I don’t deserve, need or want their full-on client experience.
I want you to be thinking about that. Do you do what you say you’re going to do?
There are two reasons that a client will choose to leave you & never come back to your photography business and use you again.
That is because A: you dropped the ball & didn’t manage their expectations. Or B: another photographer is doing it better and making them feel more special. Let that sit for a second.
I want to tell you a flip side, I really want this to sink in. Someone is always doing it better. That is not meant to make you feel bad, that is not meant to make you feel shame and guilt and have anxiety like you can never do it as good as someone else. That’s not what I mean by this. It’s just the truth.
Let me tell you this from a photography standpoint: I am that photographer that is doing it better than others in my area. Here’s how I know: I hear the clients that come use me after they’ve used somebody else. I don’t ask for their stories; I would never do that. I’m not out to trash other photography businesses. But I DO hear the horror stories. I hear the way they were treated or the way that they were ignored or how they felt in front of the camera, how it took 5 months to receive their gallery or how they never got their pictures.
I just want you to know, this is the harsh reality. Let it be motivation to take the time to plan & implement an exceptional client journey!
Expectations: this is by far, the number one area AND the number one problem I see photographers struggle with time and time again. This is the one thing that when students come into the blueprint & I get my eyes and hands on their business, I find a way to help them make sure that they are able to manage those expectations.
The majority of your problems are happening because you fail to set the expectations throughout your client’s journey. If you’ve had a client that you did not enjoy before, or a client that ended up not being happy, it literally goes back to expectations. Hands down.
Have you ever had a client who was unsatisfied with their images? A client who asked for a refund, requested a different editing style, complained about how they looked in the pictures, or showed up in hideous wardrobe unfit for their pictures?
We all have that nightmare client; you will all have a nightmare client in your business. It doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel; however, if this is something that has happened more than once, we need to fix that.
What if I told you, it was completely your faults?
Or 99%, your faults? Would you believe me?
It truly is.
I have a training inside of the blueprint program, it’s called How to Never Have a Nightmare Client.
It’s because you missed a step; you missed the mark on setting expectations, you did not communicate well enough, you did not take creative control, or maybe you lacked a little bit of confidence (the more you do this, the more confident you’ll get).
The more you take creative control and control of your situation, and really start putting your foot down and really leading your clients along, I promise you, you will have way less of those clients and hopefully never again.
Here are some red flags to look for:
Your gut feeling, ever had that feeling that someone wasn’t a good fit for you, but you couldn’t find any real reason to not take them, so you took them on anyway?
They’re difficult to work with. Are they asking for an over-the-top request, before you’ve ever even gotten into the client experience or to the session, maybe they’re not your style, or they’re asking you to do a type of a session that you don’t specialize in. If they are difficult to work with and are doing any of these things, it’s better for you to cut the tie than to move forward with them.
Late payments, slow communication, etc. Are they already pushing your boundaries by not paying you, by not signing your contract or taking days in between messages to respond? I’m not talking about they took the weekend off in my resume talking with you on a Monday, I’m talking like, it’s literally taking days just to get information out of them. Run the other direction.
Your client experience should be set up to help you gain your clients trust, allow ease of communication, and manage their expectations. That’s the whole point.
Client experience includes processes that can be implemented into systems to ensure every client is receiving the highest level of service. Your client experience is your systems & processes, the things you’re going to do over and over and over again, to ensure that every step is counted for every client is receiving VIP service.
There are three major sections that you need to have processes for in your business.
Let’s map out your client journey from start to finish.
This might be something that you’re always going to be tweaking.
The first thing you need: your niche, your right fit client, and you’re going to keep them in mind. With your specific niche. you’re going to begin planning your client journey: what are you going to do when someone inquires with you, what’s going to happen, write it down. How do you want them to inquire with you? If someone inquires with you over on social media, where are you going to take them? Where are you going to leave them? Do you want to get them to inquire with you off of social media? How can you get information in one place?
The next thing would be what do you do when they decide that they’re ready to book with you? They’ve already seen your investment guide your investment guide and now they’re ready to book. Do they book directly from your investment guide? Do you want them to email you? Maybe you’re going to have them go to your website? Where do you want them to go? What does that look like? Write down all the steps of your booking process.
Now they’ve booked it. What happens next, between the time they book and commit to their session? There’s a lot of little things to remember: do they need to sign a contract? Are you going over styling? Do they need to pay you up front? Is there a retainer?
What does communication look like? How can you go above and beyond, gain their trust and really get them ready for this session in between booking and the time you guys actually show up to the session? There’s nothing that irks me more than when people do all the hard work with marketing, get someone to book with them and literally say zero words to them until the day of the session. If you do that, right now, I’m not shaming you. I’m telling you, it’s time to change.
If you’re at your session, and you’re struggling with posing, or you’re struggling with getting people to feel relaxed and comfortable, you didn’t do enough prep work. If you don’t know what that is, prep work is where you’re going to get people to be excited & ready for their session! Write those steps down.
What does your session process look like? Literally envision your best effort, your perfect session? What does that look like? When do you meet? Do you get there early? Do they get anything while you’re there? Are you going to just immediately jump in? Are you going to walk around with your clients first? What does that look like? Write it down.
Finally, what does your post session process look like? Once the session is over, what happens? Do you deliver sneak peeks? How long after the session? How long can they anticipate waiting for gallery delivery? What is your editing and culling process look like? Is there any communication while they’re waiting around for their gallery? How do you continue a relationship with your client after the gallery delivery?
Here’s where a lot of you and sometimes myself, I’m not going to lie, we drop the ball. It’s like we did all the hard work, we got them perfect images, and then we’re like “see you later, can’t wait till next time”.
We need to be doing something in between, right? How do you nurture your clients to come back and book with you? This is something that I’m going to start teaching the blueprint students soon!
Want a more guided approach to your client experience & planning your client journey?
Tune into the Book More Clients Photography Podcast today!
If you’re looking to build a profitable photography business that will increase the money in your bank account & give you more time to enjoy your life, I’m inviting you to join the From Broke to Booked Blueprint Program today!
Be there when I start teaching how to nurture clients & get them to book a session right after another session!
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