Simple Customer Service Moves That Will WOW Your Clients

Big companies develop big reputations for their customer service – some brilliant in their success, some nightmarish in their abject failure.

The most epic customer service success stories become legendary in the business world: Nordstrom issuing a refund on a set of tires they didn’t even sell; Zappos tracking down a pair of replacement shoes in a local mall and hand-delivering them to the customer who’d lost her own pair; Southwest Airlines alerting a visually-impaired passenger that his brave guide dog had been seriously injured, then saving the companion animal’s life by rushing him to the vet

couple holding hands over their corgi puppy by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Astonishing feats of customer care may seem intimidating to small business owners who are fighting to make an impression in their little corner of the market. After all, you’re just the little guy – right? You don’t have money to throw at problems you didn’t cause, or time to solve problems you didn’t create.

So how do you – “the little guy” – craft an impactful client experience?

With insights into big business brilliance and tips from the photo industry’s own Cinnamon Wolfe, we’ve developed a series of customer service moves you can implement now – without breaking the bank or your back.


Be Responsive

Your response to a prospective client’s very first email or phone call sets the tone for your customer service relationship. Prompt response times make your clients feel seen, heard, and valued!

This doesn’t mean you should be glued to your computer or phone at all hours. What it does mean is that your communication process should be clear and consistent.

wedding invitation set on a wooden table with leaves by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Email

Set aside time every day to check and answer email. Consider implementing an auto-response so inquirers know their email has been received, and when they’ll hear back from you.

“Thank you so much for writing! You’ll hear back from me within one business day. In the meantime, check out my latest engagement session at the beautiful Cross Estate Gardens! – Cinnamon”

Phone

Treat your voicemail message just like an email auto-responder, and communicate to callers what they can expect after leaving a message.

“You’ve reached Cinnamon Wolfe; thank you for calling! Leave a message, and I’ll get back with you within one business day. Or send me a text for a quick-link to my website!”


Pro Tip: Using one phone for both personal and work calls? Google Voice offers a FREE additional phone number with a custom voicemail message that rings to your personal phone! Texts sent to your Google Voice number can also be forwarded to your personal cell phone.


fall engagement portrait by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Text

Do you prefer texts over phone calls? (Doesn’t everyone?)

If you’re using an Android smartphone, you can create text message auto-replies with apps like SMS Auto Reply Text PRO or Meeting – Do Not Disturb.

iPhones don’t currently offer any text auto-reply solutions, but this workaround can help you field oddly-timed texts and set response expectations:

Create A Text Replacement Shortcut:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings
  • >General
  • >Keyboard
  • >Text Replacement
  • Enter your message into the Phrase field:

“Thank you for texting me! I’ll text you back within one business day. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cinnamonwolfe.co. I look forward to chatting with you! – Cinnamon”

  • Enter your shortcut into the Shortcut field. This could be “ooo” for “out of office,” or “waytmsl” for “why are you texting me so late?” When you type your shortcut into a text message, the replacement phrase will automatically pop up!

For a video tutorial on creating a Text Replacement response, click HERE!


Pro Tip: Make email even EASIER with super-simple templates that live right in your email signature! Learn more: Efficient Photography Workflow: 4 Ways To Get Your Life Back.


bride with sunflower bouquet walking down the aisle by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE


Underpromise & Overdeliver

You know the advice, but how do you do it?

Most photographers get themselves into a pickle by promising the maximum they can provide, then straining to exceed that guarantee in order to impress their clients.

Rather than setting the bar too high at the outset, establish reasonable customer service expectations – ones you know you can exceed every single time.

“If it usually takes you 4 weeks to finish a wedding gallery, tell your client it will take 6-8 weeks – then deliver in 4. If you usually provide around 100 photos per hour of coverage, guarantee 50 per hour. Your clients will always be pleasantly surprised and never left wanting more.” – Cinnamon Wolfe

outdoor engagement portrait in navy and olive by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Identify Your Problem Areas

Where are you creating stress for yourself by overpromising?

  • Do you allow too little time for post-production and delivery?
  • Does your auto-reply promise a response time that isn’t reasonable with your lifestyle?
  • Are you so eager to secure new bookings that you’re guaranteeing an unreasonable number of locations or outfit changes?

Write A Reality Checklist

Create a list of realistic customer service promises, then pad those guarantees with some wiggle room. (What if you get sick, have a family emergency, or encounter an issue with a vendor?)

The next time you’re making a promise to a client – i.e., presenting a proposal or contract – refer to your Reality Checklist. Underpromise so you can overdeliver!

organic roses bridal bouquet by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE


Reward Loyal Clients

Cable companies are notorious for rewarding new users with incredible deals, then screwing over their old customers with ever-increasing rates and reduced services.

Don’t be like the cable company!

Show your loyal clients extra love with thoughtful surprises and incentives.

“Surprises create a sense of novelty around your interaction with your client. And novelty lends itself to storytelling! We all want our clients telling stories to their friends and family about their awesome experience with their photographer!” – Cinnamon Wolfe

Surprise Sustainably

Elaborate packages are grand, but streamlined gift-giving is truly where it’s at! Find surprises you can send quickly and easily. If the task of delivering on a surprise is too costly or time-consuming, you might find yourself skipping it!

Consider these simple surprises:

Deliver Booking Gifts To New Clients

Flowers from The Bouqs are a lovely surprise for wedding clients. Greetabls are a fun gift for portrait clients – you can even customize them with your own photographs!

engaged couple standing in sunshine smiling by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Say Hi With Snail Mail

Handwritten notes go a long way! From “thank you” cards to “just because” post cards, hand-penned thoughts always garner a smile.

“Who doesn’t love getting a piece of mail that is personalized, handwritten, and looks nothing like the other mail in the stack? You know if someone took the time to write something by hand, it’s going to be meaningful.” – Cinnamon Wolfe

Make ‘em Smile With Mobile Apps

After uploading your client’s ShootProof gallery, invest five more minutes and create a custom Mobile App with up to 100 photographs! The app saves to your clients smartphone or tablet, and it never expires – not even if you delete or archive the gallery! With Mobile Apps, your clients take their favorite photos everywhere they go! Great for business, and fun for your client!

happy engaged couple walking through the city by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE


Make Your Client’s Life A Little Easier

Think about how you felt when your bank instituted mobile check deposits; or when you realized you could order paper towels through Amazon Prime. (Why even leave the house any more?)

Solutions that simplify our lives are often the greatest gifts of all. So what better customer service could we give our clients than a streamlined photography experience?

“People are busy! Evaluate every step of your workflow to ensure that whatever you need your client to do, they can do quickly and easily.” – Cinnamon Wolfe

Make Your Pricing Easy To Access & Understand

Whether you list prices on your website or direct new customers to contact you for rates, when you finally deliver your package information, it should be easy to access and understand!

Recognize that your clients all have different processing styles. Providing a variety of options for digesting information can help ensure that all your client-types feel connected to you!

bride and groom hugging with bouquet by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

“Include a picture of yourself – or even a video! – when you send your pricing information!” – Cinnamon Wolfe

Create clear package titles and totals, with more detailed information available for those who like fine print. Bonus points if you can make your pricing sheet visually appealing with photographs and graphics!

Go Paperless With Contracts & Invoices

If you’re still emailing PDFs and asking your clients to scan their signed contracts (or worse – snail mail them), it’s time to streamline!

ShootProof can jumpstart your paperless lifestyle with secure, online contracts and invoices that allow your clients to sign and pay all from the comfort of their couch!

If you’re looking for a fully-featured studio management solution, photographer-centric partners like 17Hats, Iris Works, Light Blue, Pixifi, ShootQ, and Táve offer additional features such as leads management, scheduling, and bookkeeping tools!

bridesmaids in pink dresses holding pink and purpose rose bouquets by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE

Build In Extra Shoot Time

You know you’ll need an extra 10 minutes to photograph that family, or an extra half-hour at the end of that wedding. Instead of nickel-and-diming your clients for small bits of overtime, allow enough wiggle room in your pricing that you can afford to invest some extra time for that customer service WOW impact.

Know what your max overtime is, however, and be prepared to draw a boundary at the appropriate time!

In-Person Ordering Gets the Ball Rolling!

If you’ve shield away from in-person ordering sessions because they feel too “salesy,” take a step back and consider it from your client’s perspective. The average Jane or Joe knows nothing about prints and albums and frames. They want and need your guidance in deciding what to order. Invite your client to place their product order with you there (in person or via screenshare) to guide their decisions. Don’t think of it as a sales pitch. Think of it as you lending your experience to an otherwise unfamiliar and overwhelming process.

Not only are you likely to enjoy bigger sales when your clients know what they’re purchasing, but they’ll have a better customer service experience as well!

wedding ring set and summer engaged couple by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE


Pro Tip: If in-person sales just aren’t for you, you can still show your clients an extra level of support! Take a few minutes to walk your client through their ShootProof gallery, so they’re completely comfortable with online viewing and ordering. While many clients are tech-savvy, some may be intimidated at the prospect of viewing their images online. Ease their worries and guide them through their first gallery experience before setting them free to do their thing!


Customer Service: “Treat Your Clients Like Human Beings”

Never lose sight of the fact that your clients are people just like you, with dreams and struggles and good days and bad days and families who love them.

The most carefully-crafted client experience workflow in the world can’t hold a candle to natural, spontaneous, caring interactions.

Listen to your clients with your whole heart, and respond thoughtfully and authentically. There isn’t a client in the world who won’t value that kind of customer service!

What do you do to make your client’s experience incredible? Tell us in the comments!

happy bride during first look by customer service whiz cinnamon wolfe
Photo by CINNAMON WOLFE


All of us at ShootProof take pride in giving stellar customer service! Sign up today and find out for yourself!


Here are MORE strategies for creating a GREAT client experience!