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How Photographers Can Guarantee Customer Loyalty in Their Photography Business: Part I

Intro by Skip Cohen

Satisfaction is a rating. Loyalty is a brand! Shep Hyken

One of the things I love about working on various projects with Bryan Caporicci is his ability to walk the talk. Although he’s a writer, educator, blogger, podcaster and developer, he’s also a full-time photographer with a healthy business, primarily in weddings. So, when I find a post I like in Bryan’s archives it’s because it’s already tried and true with Bryan’s clients and his business.

So many of you fail to realize the opportunities you have every day to build a stronger brand and in turn, customer loyalty. It’s about exceeding client expectations and making yourself habit-forming. You want to become so habit-forming that your clients not only keep coming back to you but insist their friends use your services.

You’re working hard to create the finest images of your life, but you need to build on great relationships and keep your community talking about you!

By Bryan Capporicci

We all want happy clients. As photographers and entrepreneurs, it makes our work so much more enjoyable to have satisfied clients, but is satisfaction enough? The #1 authority on sales and best-selling author, Jeffrey Gitomer has a book called “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless. Customer Loyalty is Priceless” and he’s been quoted as simplifying the concept to this:

Would you rather your spouse be satisfied, or loyal?
– Jeffrey Gitomer

Even though it has a comical undertone to it, it couldn’t be truer! Customer satisfaction isn’t enough – we need to make a point to have loyal customers and ecstatic customers – satisfaction itself should be assumed.

How can we have customer loyalty? How can we over-deliver on customer expectations and ultimately deliver what I like to call “delight and surprise” to ensure that we are creating customers for life? Well, that’s the topic of today’s discussion!

Quick aside, here are three related articles about the customer experience and setting expectations that you may find of interest if you want to dive deeper into some of these areas:

What is customer satisfaction?

Let’s explore the idea of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this, meaning that if we have customers who are satisfied, then it means that we’re meeting their expectations and needs. The only way to start looking at how we can exceed those expectations and needs is to identify what they are in the first place.

What are the customer expectations and needs for us as professional photographers? I believe that for a personal and professional service, there are three main “dimensions” of the customer’s expectations and needs.

  1. Product
  2. Service
  3. Personality

If we look at what the “basic expectations” are for each of these “dimensions”, we can conclude that in order to have a satisfied customer and meet their basic expectations, we must:

  • Create quality photos
  • Deliver the photos on-time
  • You must be agreeable

Exceeding customer expectations

You may be surprised to hear that in order to merely meet the customer’s expectation, you must deliver on these three promises – quality photos, on-time delivery and an agreeable personality. Many photographers stop at this thinking that they’ve “done their job” but then wonder why they aren’t getting repeat business or creating raving fans. You must learn to “up” your game and fill the gap between these basic expectations (customer satisfaction) and what it means to deliver delight and surprise.

The difference between customer satisfaction and delivering delight is the difference in each of the three dimensions (product, service and personality) and therefore, in order to effectively deliver delight to your clients, you must:

  • Create exceptional photos
  • Over-deliver on service
  • Be extremely friendly, fun and professional

These concepts really just scrape the surface, but it gives you the framework that will allow you to adopt specific practices in your own photography business to exceed those basic expectations.