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Chris Bechtold
Chris Walters Photography

Humble, TX

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The Total Customer Experience

Your customers’ experience with your studio has a lot to do with your success, more so even than your products and pricing. The most successful studios produce great photographs, but so do many mediocre businesses. The difference? The Total Customer Experience.

The Total Customer Experience may go by other names, but the idea is that each and every contact you have with your customers significantly impacts the value they receive from your business. If done correctly, the Total Customer Experience will become your long-term secret to success.

Creating High-Value Contact Points:  Every time you interact with your customer throughout the Total Customer Experience process is a contact point, whether it’s a simple session reminder, or a lengthy ordering appointment.  Gather your employees together and start discussing how to provide value to your customers in every one of your contact points. We’ll break down the main contact points, along with some suggestions.

New Lead:  Whenever you have contact with a new lead, whether they call, email, or walk into your studio, you should have a plan with a goal in mind as to how you will treat them and how this will convert them into a life-long client. Find out why they contacted you, listen actively to their wants and needs, and show interest in them. When talking about your studio’s services, use a descriptive vocabulary that shows you are excited about your work, and they should be too. 

Always leave the ball in your court – get their email address to send them a link to your site, get their address to mail them a packet, find out when they want to come in (the wedding date, birthday, or time of year for a family portrait) and create a reminder in your phone call or task list. And keep notes about them so that when you call them back you remember who they are!

Booking: Once a customer is ready to book a session with you, don’t feel like your job is done – it’s not! Let them know how happy you are that they've decided to book their session with you. As you get their information entered, continue to ask them about why they are booking and what they hope to get out of the session. Take good notes, as you will refer to these dozens of times throughout the process. Make sure your customer understands what the next steps are going to be, and that by the time you're off the phone they feel comfortable with you and excited about their upcoming session.

Confirmation Call: A booked customer is no better than a prospect, unless they actually show up. Confirmation calls are critical to limiting the number of cancelations and no-shows. Depending on the type of photography, you may actually have multiple confirmation steps, mailing out a session confirmation, emailing information, calling, and sending a text message, even doing a consultation may be required. As in all of your contact points, keep your communication professional, courteous, valuable, and exciting.

In-Studio Experience: When the customer arrives in your studio on the day of their shoot, remember they have spent a lot of time preparing and thinking about the session. They excited and probably a little nervous. Before they arrive at the studio, review all the notes about this customer. When they arrive, great them warmly, reassure them, and continue to show your excitement about their shoot. The greeting is actually a very critical time for the customer. Review their session with them. A great touch would be to have the studio owner briefly meet them (whether they are the one photographing them or not), and continue to convey excitement and positive energy. Walk them to the studio, introduce them to the photographer, and stay with them for a few minutes until they are comfortable.

The Shoot: The transition from the greeter to photographer is very important. Print out a session confirmation or photographer confirmation from Spectra so the photographer can review the information before the customer arrives. As the photographer, being able to make the customer comfortable is critical to their experience and quality of the images.

Sales Presentation: The first time your customer views their images is very important. This first impression will determine how successful the sale will be. Make sure you build up this process, affirming the customer and building the excitement with statements like, “I think you’re going to be so pleased,” or “The photographer really captured some fantastic images.” Remember, you may have seen that pose or background 1,000 times, but this is the first time they’ve see it. Use a slideshow with images to boost the emotional experience. Don’t dwell on images they didn’t like, spend time on the images they do like. At the end of the order process, continue to affirm their images and their choices. They are looking to you as the expert, your guidance and opinion are very important.

Order Pickup: The final time your custom enters your studio is very important. This is when they will see their final images and get their last impression of your studio before their next session, which may be weeks or months away. As you prepare to present the final product to your customer, continue to build the excitement level, commenting how excited you are about their images, how they will look great wherever they are going to be displayed, etc. You may bring the customer into the presentation room, having already prepared the order for review, and heightening the emotional impact of the first time they see their images. Make sure they know you are pleased with the work, and that they are pleased. If at this point you plan to present them with more options, such as framing, have your examples already picked out. Above all, make sure they leave your studio feeling excited about their images and thrilled with the entire experience so that every time they see their images they remember how they felt at your studio.

Follow-Up: After your customer has picked up their order, it’s easy to think that you’re done with them. But you’re not! You need to follow up with your customer after they go home, making sure they continue to be excited about their purchase and know that you value them as a client. For larger customers this should be a phone call or a hand-written "Thank You" note. For smaller customers it may be a simple email. You may even send them a survey to rate their experience and then use these results to improve your Total Customer Experience.

You can think of these contact points as a cycle – the goal is to move your customer from one to the next, and finally to re-book a new shoot. Add your own reminders, phone calls, emails, text messages, or letters throughout the process to help move your customer through each step and increase their overall satisfaction with your studio. 

Insiders Tip: Spectra is the only Total Customer Experience-based software. Every contact point can be recorded and tracked. All of the customer's information and history is at your fingertips, even the images from their last session are right there for you to review. It's easy to create and maintain your Total Customer Experience using Spectra!