I don’t normally do this, but I am starting off this blog post with a bit of a personal story. It more than helps with getting my point across about dealing with photography clients, and people in general.
I am not a doctor. I do not understand the medical field and all the processes that go into it. I do however, understand that good communication skills can go a long way when dealing with patients and people.
My daughter has been sick for almost 3 months now. To respect her privacy, I will just say she has had a tremendous amount of stomach pain for these 3 months. At first her primary doctor and GI specialist had been treating her for an ulcer. Nothing worked. We changed her diet, and myself and my husband have been eating the same things she has. Let me tell ya….when you go for so long not having pizza, you MISS IT! BAD!
Still, nothing we did helped. It was so inconsistent. There was a 2 week period at the beginning of the year where she felt great. No pain! We thought she might be on the mend, the meds she was taking was finally working, and our sacrifice of pizza was paying off! And then 2 weeks ago it came back. Worse than before. She has missed a lot of school. She has been able to keep up with makeup homework, but still concerning enough that I have had to discuss where we stand with her principal and teachers. This time the doctors ran a ton more test. She actually became worried that she was going to die because of how much blood they had to take over and over again for test :(. Of course I reassured her that would not happen. Unfortunately we have became locals at the lab, so she felt comfortable talking to the tech about how much blood they take each time, and they were more than happy to talk to her and me about any questions we had.
Along with blood tests, they have had to test other….things... as well. This is still a photography related post, so I am trying to spare a lot of details. With all the tests they are doing, myself and her running around between her GI, primary, and lab, the diet change and meds not working, nothing I as a mother can do to make her pain go away, the GI telling us, it's not an ulcer so we are going to treat for something else, the research I have been doing, her lack of energy and the pain, dealing with a few inconsiderate people that have made her feel bad because of this, (because they can’t physically see that something is wrong they think she should be fine). I’m spent. I’m exhausted. And I’m not the one with the pain. So, not once, but twice in the last week, the GI AND primary have failed to instruct me what to do on a few of the tests. Not just miscommunicated it, but didn’t even tell me. Why in the world did they just ASSUME I knew what to do?
So because of their complete lack of instructions, it resulted in extra trips to the lab (35 minutes away) to pick up items they were supposed to give us in the first place, redoing tests because they failed to explain that these tests weren’t like the ones we did before so it was a different process, and taking them back to the lab. I will go to the ends of the earth to do what I am supposed to do to help her get better. And I will deal with all of it. Not saying I won’t break down, and get pissed off like I have a time or two. But I will do it.
Now I know photography is not the medical field. But, the point of me telling you all of that, NEVER, EVER assume people know your process. Miscommunication is a leading factor in unhappy clients (and pissed off mothers). YOU know your process. It becomes habit and second nature. You are the photographer. Your clients aren’t. All they are aware of is they meet with you, pose, smile, laugh, you click a button for an hour, everyone goes home.
You know your workflow like the back of your hand. You can do it in your sleep. That is a great thing to have it down like that. If you are still struggling with your workflow and getting a process down, you can read this post The Ultimate Tell All Photography Workflow System.
Everything goes great at the session, you rocked their photos and you can’t wait to get them edited and sent back to them!
That day comes and you are super excited for them to see the final product! You send them their images (that is, if you use an online sharing option like Pixieset), and you can’t wait to hear how much they love them! Except, they are a bit unhappy.
They didn’t get as many images as they were hoping for. But it's in your contract how many they should expect to get.
They didn’t get a certain shot or pose they were hoping for. Did you explain to them that not all poses work out the way you hoped?
They didn’t know that a CD or a flash drive is not included and they have to fork out more money to purchase it.
They didn’t know that it would take 2 weeks to get their images back, and they had plans to do something with them and were hoping for a 1 week turnaround time.
(Also, clients taking your finished product and putting their own filters on them from Instagram or Facebook...did you communicate how important it is that they not do this?)
ALL of these things should definitely be highlighted in your contract. But how many people read every detail? What can make it worse is they say, “But I thought this, or that?” And you reply to them, “I’m sorry, but it's in my contract.” Well that would make me even more mad.
You should ALWAYS communicate the most important parts of your process. Don’t ever assume they just know, and don’t ever assume that they read every detail.
So how do you educate them on your process without making it awkward, or having to constantly repeat yourself?
A welcome sequence.
When they are inquiring about a session, you of course want to let them know every tiny detail that is included in your cost. But when they do book you for a session, its best to go into more detail about what they can expect from you, and what you expect from them, before and after the session. Almost like a summary of your contract.
You can use a welcome packet that goes into great detail about everything they need to know. Its like a magazine or a brochure that you can email to them, or print it out and snail mail it to them. You can use it for a what to wear style guide, tips for your clients to make sure the session goes smoothly and even FAQs (with all the answers filled in, of course).
Check out the ones from BP4U. They make templates for every niche’ of photography!
Or, you can go in a more simple route, and create a word document that you can either copy and past it each time you need it, or attach the document to an email.
You can download this free checklist to make sure you have included all the details that you need your clients to know about.
Again, NEVER assume they know. Its better to communicate every tiny detail, than to end up with an unhappy client because you forgot to explain some very important information to them. By the way, running a photography business is not just about your talent for taking pictures. Its also about your customer service as a business owner.
P.S. Izzy is getting better, we think. Her doctors are treating her for something other than an ulcer now, and it seems to be working. Only time will tell, but it looks hopeful!!!!
P.S.S. She found out we sneak pizza when she isn't here. Note to self: Put the left over pizza in a non see through container and put the pizza box in the dumpster.
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