There are so many relatively easy things you can do to fine-tune your business, but you get busy, and suddenly everything seems like a major project.
So, I started Fast Food Fridays to help you focus on things you need to do to make your business and presence stronger. After all, you know how to focus your camera. Why not your skills as a business owner?
Each week is a new brand-builder to help you build a stronger reputation and make 2018 your best year yet. I get that you're busy, but I also know just working on your skill set as a photographer isn't enough to make you a success.
Just like a diner with a daily blue plate special, I'm breaking things down into small "plates" of fixable challenges. This is the eighth "lunch special" in the series, hitting another easy to fix component of your business.
On the menu for today is a series of tips to improve your follow-up and develop a stronger sense of Customer Service, one of the very best ways to outshine your competitors.
Too Slow in Your Follow-Ups? How's that Working for You?
Anyone who contacts you, whether they're a client, potential client, vendor or associate, judges you on your response time together with the accuracy of your response, hopefully with a delivery that should match the sincerity of The Three Tenors!
Phone Calls: How quickly do you return a call to a client? A few years ago Gene Ho, a wedding 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 client before 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 people will always assume the worse when you don't get back to them promptly.
Email Templates on Your Website: I wrote about this in a previous Fast Food Friday. They're meaningless if you don't check them regularly. Also, give people every possible way to contact you. I understand if you work out of your home and don't want to publish your address - but you can still give them an email address and phone number. What's most important is how quickly does a potential client get a response?
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 say, "The buck stops here. How can I help?" Then, 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. They were aggravated that he wasn't on time. 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. 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. Now and then I meet a photographer who 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!"
With businesses, you go to the same places because you like the service, you like the people and they take care of you. They greet you with a smile. That's how people want to be treated, with respect.
That's what I tell my employees...customer service is very important.
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)
Missed any of the past lunch specials? They're just a click away!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.