What's the difference between good customer service and a good client experience?
Why is a good Client Experience so important?
A good client experience will not only build trust between you and your client but it will also build loyalty and with loyalty comes repeat business. We’ve all heard the old rule of how it costs 5x more to get a new client than it does to keep an existing client. However, we need to consider more than just cost of client acquisition. We also need to look at the lifetime value of a client and how much it takes to retain clients. It can be a balancing act of costs when it comes to acquisition and retention but by investing in your relationship with good clients, they can be worth their weight in gold.
2. Be Remembered, Be Referred
If you give your clients an experience they’ll never forget, not only will you have the opportunity of having a client for life, but chances are they’re going to be raving about you to their family and friends and this is THE most valuable marketing you can get.
Referral marketing is a stand-out winner when it comes to ROI (Return On Investment) compared with other marketing tactics. Not only does referral marketing cost little to nothing, it also delivers very valuable, warm leads. When someone is referred by a friend, there is automatically a built in level of trust and that is invaluable.
Client experience has a big impact on willingness to pay (WTP). If the client experience is positive, their willingness to pay increases. Conversely, if their experience is negative, their willingness to pay decreases.
A client who has an exceptional experience will not only be happy to pay a higher price, they’ll actually expect it.
Say for example you walk into a restaurant. You are greeted at the door, your coat is taken from you and you are seated at your table. A smartly dressed waiter wearing white gloves comes over, removes the napkin from the table and places it on your lap while another waiter places a small stool beside you for your handbag (so it doesn’t have to go on the floor); the menu is explained to you in perfect detail while the sommelier makes an expert recommendation from the wine list based on your preferences. What is your impression? Do you think this place will be expensive?
Then think about another type of restaurant. You walk in and find that you have to place your order at the counter and you’re handed a number. Then you look around hoping to find an available table (that’s somewhat clean!) to sit at. 5 minutes later you hear your number shouted across the room and hurry to collect it on its plastic tray. You eat your food, dump the remains in the trash and leave. Would you expect to pay a high price for this?
Ok granted, these examples are at each end of the spectrum but the point I’m trying to make is, it’s difficult to charge high prices with a sub-par client experience. Chances are you won’t stay in business for very long. But with an excellent client experience, people will be happy to pay the prices you need to have a long-term profitable and sustainable business.
4. Happy Clients, Happy You
At the end of the day, giving your clients a wonderful experience will result in happy clients, a sense of satisfaction for you in delivering it, not to mention a happy bank balance 😉
How To Create a Great Client Experience
And don’t forget, we’re not just talking about their experience at the photoshoot itself. It’s everything before, it’s everything after, and everything in between. It’s a lot of little things and ultimately the “feeling” your client gets when interacting with your business.
Make a plan of the exact experience you want your clients to go through from start to finish. Then you need to work out how to implement each step and to make sure it is repeatable and sustainable with the resources you have.
Top 10 DO’S (actually make it 11…)
- Make things EASY:
Make it easy for people to contact you (more on that in a sec), make it easy for people to find the info they need, make things easy to read, make things easy to understand, make things easy to remember. It can be little things like having your contact info clearly visible on your website and giving people multiple ways to contact you (email, phone, messaging, chat etc), make your pricing easy to understand, make it easy for your client to find you, make it easy for your client to prepare, put them at ease in front of the camera, make it easy for them to order, make it easy for them to pay, make it easy for them to refer you. Everything must be as EASY as possible!
- Build TRUST:
If possible, do either an in-person consultation (might not be the best option right now with COVID) so a phone call or Zoom meeting is the next best thing. Clients want to ensure that they click with you and have a good rapport. Answer any questions they might have to get past any “objections” they might have and build trust and confidence. You can also discuss any ideas they might have for their upcoming photoshoot; who’ll be involved and a little bit of background/personal info to help you get the most from the session and to ensure it as enjoyable as possible. For example, if it’s a newborn shoot, ask if there are other children so you can prepare a little “activity” bag with their name on it for when they arrive. It will keep the other children busy, not to mention happy, and it really shows that your listening, attentive, and thoughtful – something that will be very much appreciated by the (no doubt stressed out) parents.
- Make it easy for people to CONTACT you:
People have different preferences for how they want to engage with businesses. Some people might prefer to pick up the phone while others would opt for email first or maybe a messaging platform. There are so many options available now and the key is to make it as easy and cover as many preferences as possible.
NICE inContact found that “90% of consumers are more likely to consider doing business with a company that offers multiple ways to communicate.”
There’s nothing more frustrating that having a query or an issue and not being able to find a way to contact the business on their website.
The key channels that people expect to see are:
In-person (48%) (if possible)
Consider having an online chat feature available on your website. You can install the Facebook Messenger widget absolutely free and it’s very simple to set up. We’ve already written a blog post with a step by step guide on putting it onto your website. You can read it here: https://tinyurl.com/yysssv2z
- Be RESPONSIVE:
Communicate clearly and often and make sure you respond to people promptly! Be consistent and reliable in your communication. It’s one thing to provide lot of great ways for people to connect with you but if it takes you 3 days to answer a message then your clients or potential clients aren’t going to feel too good about their experience with you. No matter what study you look at, getting a quick response tops the list of what people require for a good customer service experience.
According to SAP Hybris, 52% of customers chose quick replies as the most important customer service attribute. In another study by Forrester, 77% of people said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company needs to do.
So make your clients feel like they’re your first priority and work on shortening your response time as much as possible.
- Be CONSISTENT and RELIABLE:
“Consistency sets expectations and creates predictability. And that leads to trust. When a brand earns a customer’s trust, the relationship is solid.” – Blake Morgan
- Be ATTENTIVE, Caring & Friendly:
In PWC’s Future of Customer Experience survey, 80% of Americans said friendly service was one of the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
Over 80% of consumers report that they want companies to understand them better. Your clients want to feel emotionally connected to your business. Make eye contact when you’re talking to them. Do everything you can to connect with them on an emotional level and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure that it’s always about THEM… they don’t really care about the awards you won last month!
- Make it EMOTIONAL:
The emphasis should be on creating experiences that elicit visceral reactions and emotions. If you think about it, what experiences stand out in your mind? No doubt you’re thinking of your wedding day or the day your child was born… all emotionally driven experiences. The same goes for experiences you have with a business. It can either make you feel valued and special or it can make your blood boil!
As humans, a lot of the time we make decisions based on how we feel and deciding whether or not to do business with someone is no different. The aim is to make people WANT to do business with us over and over again and people will want to do business with companies and people they like.
Also, people tend to buy on emotion and will spend more if they’re emotionally charged. That’s why we recommend using a beautiful slideshow set to music to kick off the ordering session. It’s a great emotional primer! Make sure the experience helps you to capitalize on positive emotions.
- Show your APPRECIATION:
Show them that they’re not just a number in your sales book. Small gifts go a long way. A simple “thank you” note does too! It’s more about the thought, time and authenticity than the monetary value that gets noticed and it goes a really long way.
- Avoid FRUSTRATION:
13% of unsatisfied customers share their unhappiness with 15 or more people. However, most clients won’t offer negative feedback if they’re unhappy. In fact, only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers actually complain. Conversely, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.
- Pay Attention to APPEARANCE and Aesthetics:
Pay attention to your location’s atmosphere and layout. It needs to be clear and inviting and somewhere that people feel both excited and comfortable to be in. Something as simple as having the place smell nice can be a huge thing (think of the unmistakable scent that hits you when you walk into an Abercrombie store.... mmm). Make sure your space is neat, tidy and clean, and your personal appearance should reflect your brand, your personality and yet be professional at the same time.
- Build for the FUTURE:
The relationship shouldn’t end the moment the client walks out the door. Make sure you stay in touch. Acknowledge events in your client’s life like Birthdays or Anniversaries (friending them on Facebook really helps with this!). It not only helps to build the relationship but it also keeps you top of mind and increases your chances of repeat business and referral opportunities.
Find out what it’s really like to be the client – if you’ve never booked a professional photographer, why not give it a go and put yourself in the client’s shoes for a different perspective. See what’s great and what could be better. Perhaps you could even team up with a fellow photographer and compare and contrast each other’s experiences and help each other out. Make sure they're willing to both give and receive constructive criticism for the benefit of both your businesses!
As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” It’s a combination of lots of small things that creates a truly exceptional client experience and will keep your clients coming back for more with plenty of referrals too.
Many things can impact your client’s perception of your business from your own personal appearance to your studio to how easy it was to find your studio or even a parking space. It’s a multitude of things that adds up to the entire experience and leaves your client with a lasting impression. Don’t underestimate the little things.
If you want to catch a glimpse of someone who really has her Client Experience nailed, click here to follow this link and scroll down to watch the video of Wendy's Studio Experience.