Good Morning Everybody,
At least it's morning here in Las Vegas. Boy, will I be glad to get back on schedule next week. I was going to do another "The F-Stops Here" post today, but decided to hold off till next week to post it.
Here's why. Last evening, I was reading a copy of Success Magazine that my buddy Bruce Hudson gave me at the WPPI trade-show. I had subscribed years ago and had always enjoyed the magazine so it was a nice surprise to see a copy again. While reading an article in the issue it reminded and struck me as to the real importance of customer service we provide our clients. Give today's post a read and let me know what you think.
Hit the "Read More..." link for the rest of the story.
Customer Service Or Customer Appreciation?
Here is a quote from the article, "Every single person on this planet has an invisible sign on the front of them that says; Appreciate me and make me feel good." That quote caught my eye right away and I started wondering how well I appreciate my own clients. Was I doing a good enough job at it. Sure, I thanked them for their business when they picked up their order. Sure, I thank them for a referral when I saw them the next time, which many times was several months later or even worse never. Sure, we would send them our promo pieces asking for more business - but does that even qualify as a Thank You? I think not.
Let me ask the question differently. Is thanking your client part of your marketing plan or simply the end of the transaction? Unfortunately for most of us I think the latter. For too many businesses or those wanting to grow their business, a customer out of site, is also a customer out of mind.
For too many businesses, marketing is simply getting their name out there, offering some kind of special, and hoping the customers will come to them. Folks, I DON'T believe this is the wave of the future when it comes to building our business - I think it's the wave of the past. Look how many businesses, large and small, are using Facebook to connect and build relationships with their clients. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Facebook should be at the heart of your marketing plan, but I suggest you take a peek at it.
I've been driving the same make of car for over 25 years which means that I've seen many levels of service and more importantly, appreciation for my business, from a number of dealers I've experienced over the years. The dealer that stands out for me is my current dealer that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to rectify a few service issues with my car when the warranty was long since expired. It was the personal connect that made a difference to me.
Let me try a little test. Also, let me preface this by saying I'm not necessarily picking on any one company here.
Think if you have felt appreciated as a customer in this situation:
1. Getting tech support on your computer - almost any brand.
2. Even getting through to tech support at Symantec for Norton's Anti-virus. I've never gotten through.
3. Paying the extra "BAG" charge to get on an airplane.
4. Dealing with airline "Customer service" if there was a change of plans. True story - I was trying to change travel plans last year when my mother was dying. After offering not many alternatives for my travel plans, the "customer service" rep told me to have a nice day! Did she hear me? My Mother was dying -- Unbelievable!
5. Having your EULA - End User Licence Agreement tell you that you are eligible for only two installs when you have a work, home, and laptop computer. Their solution... just buy another copy for the third install. That only doubles the price for the last install, doesn't it.
6. Being told the software won't work on a MAC / Being told the software won't work on a PC. I heard them both this week at WPPI.
7. And lastly, trying to buy a new cell phone. True story - LaDawn and I just last week visited a Verizon Store, or more correctly, an authorized Verizon reseller. My advice - avoid the Verizon resellers like the plague and only do business with a Verizon corporate store. The two guys working behind the counter looked like they should be working for Jiffy Lube with their frayed ball caps and less than professional appearance.
The first guy made it seem like we were an inconvenience to him because we were asking too many questions. We were ready to buy the phone for a savings of $50 off the $199 price. I offered my Amex card and they said they didn't take Amex - red flag #1. The other guy - the store manager - made a snotty remark that lots of stores don't take Amex - red flag #2. He may be right, but national corporate stores surely do.
Even though, we nearly sealed the deal, the red flags on their lack of customer appreciation made us walk out of the store and drive the extra 3 miles to the corporate Verizon store where we picked up the same phone for - get this -for only $30! By the way, we spent 3 hours in the corporate store as they finally managed to undo the lock on the account the Verizon authorized reseller had levied on the account.
Whew! What a day, but you get the point. An unappreciated customer may never return. So folks, it's not always about having the best product or the best price. That may get them to make the first purchase. But it's about appreciating your customer on a regular basis that keeps them coming back.
So how well do you appreciate your clients? Do you send your wedding clients anniversary cards every year? Do you send birthday cards to the kids you have photographed? Do you send random Thank You or Thinking of You cards to your clients just - get this - just to say Thank You or I've Missed You without including a pitch or a new offer to buy your product?
Let me say this, "A client that feels appreciated will help grow your business much more than a client whom you just say Thank You." OK, I've gone on for quite a while here, but let me wrap by having you think about this. How often do you get to appreciate your client from the time of the first phone call? Let me count the ways.
20 Ways To Show Customer Appreciation
1. Sending a Thank You note for initially contacting you.
2. Mailing then directions to your studio for their first appointment.
3. Monthly or maybe bi-monthly, before their wedding letting them know how much you are looking forward to spending their wedding day with them.
4. Calling the week of the event just to check in verify schedules, adjust for any last minute change of plans, secure immediate family names and relationships and wrap any loose ends.
5. Showing some of their wedding images at their wedding reception on your laptop.
6. Telling them and the bride and groom's parents how much you enjoyed spending the day with them as you get ready to leave for the evening.
7. Dropping them a note within the week telling them how great their pictures look maybe even including a 4x5 image from the day. They get to read the note when they get back from their honeymoon.
8. Posting a short show, maybe with Animoto, to let them and their families share in the "preview of coming attractions."
9. Thanking them for their order after it's placed. Thank them for referrals.
10. Dropping them a note while their wedding album is in process letting them know how great it is going to look.
11. After delivering the album, follow up with yet another personalized Thank You note with your own personal message.
12. Send out Birthday cards on their birthdays - you asked for that info during the booking process.
13. Send them an anniversary card every anniversary.
14. If you hear they having a baby give a call or send a note. We include a free sterling silver frame with an invitation for complimentary Mom/Dad and Baby shoot.
15. Give them free family portrait session for life, maybe include photographs of the new baby.
16. Send birthday cards to the baby each year, and don't forget mom and dad too.
17. Send holiday cards every year.
18. Make the occasional phone call just to say HI and/or you were thinking about them.
19. Be sure to ask and then let them know if you are going to use any of their images in your promo materials and be sure they receive a copy of the promo material with a complimentary photograph used.
20. Pick a few of your clients randomly each month and just send out a little gift, say something as simple as a brownie or cookies. This will really get the buzz going for your studio.
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28......... Continue to add your own - you get the idea.
The truth is that if you constantly work at building client relationships, you will have a customer for life! Sure you have to go the extra mile, but as Roger Staubach said, "There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."
A quick note - my Digital WakeUp Call - A New Dawn kicks off in only 5 weeks. This post is just the tip of the iceberg - I'll be covering several other business building ideas at the program too. Here is the link to the Digital WakeUp Call website - see ya' there!
Hey gang, that's it for me today. We head back to Cincy on Sunday, so I'll see you on the flip side of the weekend. Have a good one and I'll see you Monday. -David