Ad image

PPA Today: Customer Service Archives

Recently in Customer Service Category

A family portrait session can be a stressful affair for the clients. They're trying to look their best. They're trying to wrangle their kids into the studio on time. They're trying to get everyone to behave somewhat normally. They're trying to get past the fact that a professional image maker will be examining their every move. Add to these factors the nagging knowledge that they're investing a bundle of money in the process, and it's not hard to understand why clients are a bit on edge when they show up for their family portrait.

So how do you, as a pro photographer, deal with all of those conditions and still figure out a way to make the experience enjoyable for everyone involved? (After all, you'd probably like your clients to return or give a referral.) Take a look at how this portrait studio makes it relaxed and fun!

Ever feel like the year went by too fast? Seems like that happens every year! To help you get ready for 2012, PPA would like to give you a moment--or perhaps two--to reflect on some past Vital Signs articles.  Maybe you didn't get a chance to read through all of them, or maybe something new has come up in your business since you did. Regardless, here's a few that might be worthy of a second look.

Remember: Whether you need a refresher on marketing and sales strategies or have questions related to copyright infringement, PPA's comprehensive list of resources can help as you build an even better business. So, read on and have a happy New Year!

Lisa-Crayford-headshot.jpgHow do you build great client loyalty? "The most important thing is to honestly and whole-heartedly care," advises Lisa Crayford, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI. "Your clients will know if you do."

Of course, it helps to have a few strategies up your sleeve to go with that caring! So, tune in December 13 to learn some of the tactics that have helped Lisa build up to 1,000 sessions annually (with many, many returning clients)--via her PPA online class, "The Building Blocks of Client Relationships."

It all starts with prospecting for new clients. For example, one thing Lisa has done since Day One of her business is to be at her four local county fairs (all within a half-hour from her studio). She has fair attendees fill out a survey to win a session and 16x20 portrait. On the survey, they fill in their names, addresses, emails and phone number.

But prospecting can be kind of tricky, as Lisa says. "You want to get good, paying clients in your door, not the bottom feeders if you know what I mean!" That's why--to bring the best prospects to the top--she also has those who fill out her survey indicate their level of interest in her studio (1-5, with 5 being the most interested). She even offers them a choice of winning the portrait or the cash equivalent--"that rules out a lot of people," she explains.

Ready for more detailed tips, advice and techniques on prospecting and what really works to build those client relationships (like charity, sales incentives and customer service)? Join Lisa online December 13 and start building!

You wake up and your head is swirling and your fever could fry an egg. You get halfway to your on-location session, only to get caught behind a 10-car pileup. You get a calendar reminder at 3:00 p.m. that you missed a 10:00 a.m. session. What do all of these situations have in common?

Aside from being just plain bad luck, they're all reasons you might have to back out of previously scheduled photography sessions or events. Even though we all hope to avoid such situations, it's important to know what to do should the need arise.  And it's equally important for you to communicate this procedure to your clients.

Canceling the Appointment
Whether you're sick, sidetracked or experience a last-minute emergency, know ahead of time what you can do to still satisfy your contract. Planning for a last-minute emergency may sound odd (you can't anticipate everything!), but it will help you put your best foot forward and keep your client's interests at heart.

Read the complete article: Canceling on Your Client...Last Minute

Dear PPA Member,

Let's begin by saying that I was a good kid--or at least I thought I was being good. When I was five, I had long hair that my mother loved to curl, pop into pigtails or braid. I didn't care what my hair looked like, but I did want to help my mom. So, I tried to save her time the night before our portrait session.

I cut one braid off. Just one. (I would have cut both, but she walked into the room and realized that I found the scissors and would never have a career as a hairstylist.) The next day's photo session would have been a disaster if not for the photographer who kept my mom cool despite her frazzled nerves, me giggling, and my brother entertained--all while capturing images I still adore. I rocked that Florence Henderson / Mrs. Brady short hair flip.

My point? As a photographer, you will meet every kind of child--the good, the bad, and the well-intentioned. So, remember the power you can have over the little ones in your lens (and the parents who are behind you). This week's Vital Signs will help with some tips and tricks to make even the initially difficult sessions joyful.  

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Dear (First Name),

Have you ever witnessed the moment a child has gone from "I am so happy that I can barely stand it!" to "There are no earplugs in the world that will muffle the screams coming from me"? If you're a photographer, you may have actually captured that moment through your lens. However, it's often not a pretty image, and it probably won't be the one the parents choose to grace the wall above the mantle.

If you can keep a smile or intrigued look on a child's face, it's money in your pocket. How can you do it? This week's Vital Signs will share tips and tricks from PPA members to get your littlest subjects (and their parents) in the right mood for perfect portraits...no earplugs required!

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Dear PPA Member,

The phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword," needs to be updated for the 21st century. It's now the mighty keyboard.

Social media and online review sites can impact your business when unhappy clients decide to take their comments to the Internet rather than to you first. Sometimes, it's a misunderstanding that you didn't realize had occurred...or worse, a false statement from an anonymous poster. While we recognize that we can't make everyone happy, it's important to address those less than stellar comments made about you or your business. And you need to do so as a professional.

This week's Vital Signs discusses how to handle clients with "keyboard courage" (those who say things online rather than dealing with someone face to face) and the steps that you should follow to right any perceived wrongs.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Dear PPA Member,

It may sound strange, but I love to make plans. While I'm all for spontaneity, there is something comforting about being prepared for almost anything. I also develop contingency strategies because I know that, sometimes, things don't go as...planned.

When you add clients into the mix, planning becomes even more complicated. You don't know their thoughts, and you don't know what will happen during the course of your relationship. That's why you need a game plan that will, from the very first meeting with a potential client, clearly express expectations. And sometimes, you need to be able to adjust it with the end goal in mind: a happy client who makes a wonderfully large purchase.

Sound impossible? It's not. You just need to put a little thinking into it, and this week's Vital Signs can help.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Dear PPA Member,

Say it with me:  "No."

It's often one of the first words that we learn.  When we're young, we scream it from the top of our lungs. As we get older, we learn to temper ourselves and even find that we forget how to say it.

Still, how to effectively say no is one of the important lessons you can learn--not just in business, but in life. Successful businesspeople understand that saying no can help their business. It's hard to do, though, when you think that you must put your client first and always say yes.

This week's Vital Signs is a lesson in learning how to say no. Think of it as a refresher course, as I'm sure you had no trouble saying no to lima beans, or nap times, or...

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. Congratulations to Kimball Nelson of Colorado--the winner of the first iPad giveaway for participating in PPA's Benchmark Survey! Learn how you can participate and possibly win the next iPad: www.ppa.com/benchmark

Dear PPA Member ,

Have you ever had to cancel a doctor's appointment? It's not unusual--schedules change and the unexpected happens. But do you know what your doctor's cancellation policy is? A business usually expects a certain amount of warning if you are going to cancel an appointment. It allows them time to try to fill that empty spot and not be out business (or money) on their end.

The same can be said for your photography business. While you may not have appointments every hour like a doctor, you still work with clients who may, for whatever reason, need to cancel their sessions with you. That is why this week's Vital Signs article reviews preparing for and handling cancellations. Understanding how to work with a client and creating and enforcing a cancellation policy can help make the most of an unexpected situation.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Live Chat is closed