Phone Calls: How quickly do you return a call to a client? A few years ago Gene Ho, a terrific photographer in Myrtle Beach, told me how his system works for responding to clients. If he's on the road and unavailable, an assistant catches the message and texts Gene or gets back to the potential bride directly. Often his studio has locked in the event before many of his competitors have even opened their email.
Checking Your Email: Things really do get lost. Remember to check all your email boxes. Some of you not only have exclusive business email addresses but you're on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Messages can sit there for weeks with many of you. Also, don't forget the "other" box on Facebook messages. Plus, don't forget to check your spam folders. Remember that people will always assume the worse when you don't get back to them promptly.
Direct email requests: How quickly does a potential client get a response? What I worry most about is how slow many of you are to answer emails, especially when you're using a template contact form on your website.
Customer Service Problems/Challenges: Do you resolve challenges quickly or let them drag out? The key to great customer service is to handle each problem as quickly as possible. It's so easy to build a strong reputation. When there's a problem all you have to do is call the customer and ask, "How can I help?" Then, just kick back and listen.
Appointments: Are you always early, just on time or a few minutes late? There's a story I heard years ago about author, Tom Peters. As the story goes he was speaking to a room full of airline executives and arrived ten minutes late. He stepped up to the microphone and said, "By all of your standards this was an on time arrival." Every client has to feel like they're your most important account.
Product Deliveries: Are you early, on time or late? Nothing beats delivering early and exceeding client expectations, but nothing can hurt your reputation more than having a client wait longer than anticipated.
Your Attitude: This is a tough one for all of us. It's hard to be upbeat all the time, especially when you're flat out trying to catch up and the phone rings. Just remember one easy pointer I was given years ago...if you smile on the phone it comes out in the tone of your voice. The same goes for face to face meetings. Every now and then I meet a photographer who just forgot how to be happy. It seems so basic, but we all have to be a little Hollywood now and then when we're dealing with some of the challenges of running a business. It's like the old Ban deodorant commercial..."Never let them see you sweat!"
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon)