What Your Customers Can Do For You…

Because I own a small business that has only been around a short while, I have found that I must find ways to generate business. Expensive marketing tactics won’t do it for me. I learned very early on that one must keep the business expenses quite separate from the household expenses, therefore, I cannot dip into the grocery budget to pay for that pretty postcard and the direct-mail campaign that comes with it.

I am lucky, in some respects, in that I have a “regular day job” that pays the bills until such time as my photography studio can do that for me. In the meantime, I network as much as I can as time allows, rely a lot on word-of-mouth referrals, and get exposure wherever I can.

I also know that customer service is so important, and possibly even more so in this economy when everyone is watching their expenditures. Doing something that will cost me a potential client, or driving away an existing one is something that I keep in my mind at all times.

While we, as business owners, constantly ask ourselves, “What can we do for our customers,” how often do we ask ourselves what our customers can do for us? I learned a very valuable lesson in what our customers can do for us over the weekend while doing a portrait session.

I was very fortunate that my customer was a woman I’d worked with some years back who needed portraits of her two beautiful girls. I had just re-worked my entire pricing schedule to be less intimidating, and a little more budget friendly, and this was the first session that I had done using the updated pricing. After the shoot, we reviewed the RAW images. This is something I would not normally do, because, like a lot of photographers, I’m kind of funny about letting people see the raw images because of the potential for over or under exposure, and I would normally let a customer see the color corrected proofs, after they’d gone home. At any rate, she had asked me if there was any way she could see the images before she left. So, not wanting to send her away unhappy, yet worried she would be critical of the untouched images, I went ahead and pulled them up. We went through all of them, applying a rating system to them so that she could narrow them down to her favorite 30 or so images. She didn’t notice the white balance, and really didn’t pay much attention to the exposure. She was looking at expressions and interaction between the girls.

After we went through all of the images and she’d made her selection, I asked her to be honest with me because I was really interested in her opinion of the session. She stated that the review of the raw images was a wonderful bonus, and made the selection of her images much easier. I had been worried about the technical side (and the possibility of wasting her valuable time) for nothing.

Long story shorter, I have learned that there is nothing wrong with asking your customers for feedback, and even going a step further and asking them what would have made their experience better.

I know that I am probably telling you all something that you already know, but in this dog-eat-dog economy, putting your financial wants aside and focusing on your customers wants and needs may put you ahead in the long run. I understand that I will be taking the baby’s 9 month photos in a couple of months, and she is going to be passing out my business cards at her office while showing off her prints.

That little extra time spent gained me valuable insight into what makes my clients tick, and you can best believe I will be incorporating all of her suggestions into my sessions from now on.
‘Till next time….