by Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API As…
Intro by Skip Cohen
Beverly Walden is back and sharing one of my most favorite topics – creating customer loyalty. I also love the way Beverly wrote it in the first person, giving you the client’s perspective.
Keeping clients happy and building loyalty is all about relationship building and exceeding expectations. In the same way, you have special stores where you like to shop, you need to create a good experience right from the beginning.
We’re coming up to the end of the “slow season” in photography, and the start of a new sales year. As you read Beverly’s post, think about what your clients might say about the experience of working with you. Are you giving them all the kind of response needed to build loyalty and make yourself habit-forming?
By Beverly Walden
1. Acknowledge my presence
Even if you’re with another customer, at least give me a signal that you know I’m there. If you are working in a back office and you hear the door, come quickly to greet me. It lets me know someone is aware that I walked in.
2. Remember something about me
When you remember my name or what I ordered the last time or the name of my kids or anything about me, you’ve paid me the ultimate compliment. You said I’m worth remembering and I just love that.
This is the beginning of building a relationship.
3. Offer a refreshment
Even if I don’t take you up on it, at least offer me something to drink. We always offer our custom-labeled bottled water and we also have a self-serve coffee/tea/hot chocolate area where clients can make a cup of coffee or tea using our single cup coffee maker.
4. Do something unexpected
When I make a significant purchase or go through an important event, or if my kids are part of something that is important in their lives, a follow-up call, email, or handwritten note communicates that you’re thinking about me, and this creates a win-win situation.
Forwarding a news article that’s pertinent to me or to my business lets me know that you don’t just think about me when I’m spending money with you, you’ve got my best interests in mind. Knowing that you’re looking out for me puts you on a whole new level of favorite businesses that I will be loyal to.
Our program we named RAK, or Random Acts of Kindness, tracks important events in our clients’ lives and we send “random” gifts from companies where we already have accounts set up. We limit the gifts to a max of $30.00 and have a monthly budget so it doesn’t get out of hand. For the kids, we buy gift cards at McDonalds or Fazolis and put them into cards along with Laffy Taffy which is flat and ships inside the card just perfectly!
5. Return phone calls and emails immediately
Few actions more accurately demonstrate how important you think I am than how quickly or slowly you get back to me. That return call or email response that comes minutes (or even seconds) after I left the message tells me that you respect me enough to show a sense of urgency.
One of the greatest loyalty-building statements your customers can say is, “Wow! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!” AMEN!
6. Help me with my decisions be gently steering
There are a lot of things I think I know and don’t, or I know just enough to do some real damage, but you’ll never win by making me feel stupid. When I feel stupid or embarrassed, I just want the interaction to end; which isn’t a very good customer loyalty strategy.
Yes, save me from myself, but keep my dignity intact. The most skillful salespeople gently nudge in the right direction while always respecting the customer. Make me feel good about myself; it makes me want to see you again.
7. Understand that my time is valuable
Time is the only resource I can never get back. When you do something that saves time or helps manage time, you’ve separated your organization from just about every other one out there.
Since we deal with photographing so many children, we MUST run our appointments on time; we don’t want our kids worn out before we even start the session. We now offer our Design Consultations in the home to save busy moms an extra trip into the studio. We work quickly in our sessions and do everything we can to maximize everyone’s time. We hate it when our time is wasted; so do your clients!
8. Pamper me
I struggle with many hard tasks during the day and if I can step into a business that will pamper me a bit, I am a happy camper! Hold the door, help me with my bags, hold my purse, help me get my kids in without them running into the parking lot and in general, just be a second set of hands.
We work by appointment only so that we can pamper our clients by staging the area they will be in.
For example, for a photography session, we stage the dressing room with chilled, bottled water, a hand-written note to the kids, and a goodie bag for them to take home. For our high school seniors, we find our their favorite drink and have it in the dressing room along with suckers and chilled bottled water. We prep a swag bag for them with grad card samples, gift certificates from area businesses and t-shirts.