Intro by Skip Cohen
The fun of following Shep Hyken is how he presents each idea and concept – all under the Customer Service umbrella. I found this article in his archives, and as I read it, I found myself asking the same questions about my own business.
He’s not suggesting you should be charging for the privilege of doing business with you, only that you make your service so outstanding that people won’t consider working with any other photographer. Beverly and Tim Walden have stressed this for years in all their programs. Your relationship with each client isn’t just about the finished portrait but the experience.
Over the years for example, I’ve heard stories from senior photographers who have worked to make the experience of working with them so memorable that each subject helps spread the word. As a result, they don’t just want return business, but each client to insist their friends check them out.
Think about a senior session. For many kids, this is their first experience working with a professional photographer. There’s a common denominator with so many of the great senior artists – they listen to their subjects. Sure, what “Mom” wants is important, but to get those great expressions and capture the personality of each subject, they need to build trust.
And it all starts with building a relationship on a foundation of confidence, respect and trust.
Then comes providing excellent service – not just in keeping your promises but responding quickly, and exceeding expectations.
As we get back to a level of normalcy, it’s not your pricing that will separate you from the competition but your attitude and commitment to be the very best – at every step of the way.
Think about this … what if you were to charge a customer just to talk to you about what you would sell them? Or, if you own a retail store, a fee to enter the store. What would you have to do for your customers to be willing to pay for the privilege of buying your products or services?
I’m not suggesting that you should. This is just to get you thinking about how good you really are. How good you are compared to your competition. How good your customer service is. How good your people are. You get the idea. Are you good enough that customers, if you asked it of them, would pay?
That’s a pretty high bar. That said, I know people who do charge for the privilege of sitting down with them, just to discuss if you want to do business with them or not. I’ve met financial advisors, attorneys, and architects who will charge you for the first meeting with them. If you decide to do business with them, they give you a credit toward their future fees.
You may be thinking, “I could never do that.” And, maybe you can’t, but that’s not the point. Just play the “What If” game and pretend you could. What would you do differently? How would – or should – your employees act toward the customer and each other? What would your company or business look like if it were that good?
I asked a few of my business rock star friends about this idea and here are some of their answers:
- My customers would never have to wait on hold.
- Our customers would get callbacks and email replies within two hours.
- We would keep our customers informed throughout our project.
- We would do our best to anticipate our customers’ needs and call them before they called us.
- We would offer a lifetime guarantee.
- If the equipment we sold our customers ever broke down, we would come to them to pick it up and leave a replacement until theirs was fixed.
- I would only hire the best people and train them to take care of our customers.
- We would make them feel like they were a guest at a fine hotel or restaurant. Our service would be impeccable.
If you think about these answers, they are exactly what customers expect anyway. But I want you to think bigger and, for lack of a better term, crazier? What would be over the top? What would make your customers say, “Wow!” These ideas don’t have to be realistic. They just need to make you think. And the bigger and crazier you think, the more likely you are to come up with a smaller idea that can work.
Copyright © MMXXI, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission