How to create an amazing client experience during the holidays.

October 23rd, 2021
mother and daughter at tree farm

Turkey specials, yard inflatables and a sea of glittery decor are once again gracing stores, which can only mean one thing: The holidays are upon us. 

The holiday season is an exciting time for photographers. You may already be scoping out the best Christmas tree farms or collecting hay bales to amp up your family photo shoots. But aside from adding an extra layer of creativity, the holidays also provide the perfect time to improve your client experience

From providing holiday discounts to staying top of mind with friendly messages, the holiday season offers ample opportunities to add value for new clients and remind existing clients of your services. 

Check out our customer service tips below for ways you can ramp up your client experience over the next few months and beyond.

Before the shoot.

woman having zoom meeting

New clients often have an impression of you before they even book your services. They already know by scrolling through your online portfolio that your photography is impressive, and it’s important to stay on par with their high expectations by following suit with your customer service. 

There are several actions you can take to “wow” them before the day of their shoot.

Schedule a free and quick photo consultation.

Offer to connect with your client prior to your scheduled shoot to talk through what they hope to get out of the shoot. Ask them how they plan to use the photos, whether they plan to bring any props and if they prefer candid shots or portraits where everyone is looking at the camera. If they chose the shoot’s location, ask them why they chose it and if it has any special ties to the shoot’s purpose.

Consultations are a great way to figure out what style of photography your client is looking for and what expectations they already have. It also provides insight into how you as the photographer can achieve their vision and allows you to get to know them on a more personal level that may inform your interactions during the shoot. Allowing clients to schedule these quick conversations is well worth your time, and can be done over the phone, via video chat or in person, if the client is local to your area.

By offering to check in with them for free, you’re showing your client that you’re invested in doing whatever it takes to make sure the final photos are exactly what they want. Answering any questions they may have will also make them feel more comfortable when they arrive at the shoot, allowing you to capture more authentic pictures and create a positive client experience.

Be open and honest.

Setting expectations in advance is key, and that also means discussing what aspects of their vision you can’t deliver on. For example, if they ask you to shoot in a location where you’re not permitted to shoot, it’s important to clearly state what your restrictions are and offer realistic alternatives.

This openness also applies to your rates and delivery process. If they ask for a price or a turnaround time that is below your comfort level, don’t be afraid to say no. Good customer service doesn’t mean you have to sell yourself short or stay up all night to finish culling, editing and uploading a photo gallery. Your pre-shoot consultation will be helpful in spotting any potential disagreements before they turn into a problem down the road.

During the shoot.

female photographer with camera

Once you’ve set yourself up for a positive client experience with a little prep work, it’s time to deliver during the shoot itself. Little things such as arriving early, scoping out the best photo locations in advance and coming prepared with a range of pose ideas can make a world of difference in your client’s perception. You want to create a fun and comfortable atmosphere for your client, but not at the expense of your professional edge.

Stay consistent with your brand.

When you begin shooting, it’s important to stay consistent with your style. Remember that your client booked you because they liked what they saw in your portfolio. Those are the types of images they have in mind and hope to see when their final gallery is delivered. 

Your personal style is also one of the things that sets you apart from the competition. Image consistency is important in establishing a brand that will allow people to recognize a photo is yours before they read the credit line.

Communicate with your client.

Two-way communication is key for staying on the same page. Consider sending a pre-shoot text reminder the day before your shoot. When your client arrives, engage them in conversation that’s not related to the shoot to help them feel more comfortable and to get them to open up. This will help build their trust in you while also getting rid of any stiffness or anxiety that might show up in their photos.

You can also consider bringing along a small gift to give them at the end of your shoot to thank them for supporting your business. This could be as simple as giving them a photo frame, key chain or a $5 gift card so they can grab a coffee on their drive home.

Your client will appreciate these personal touches, and the gesture is more likely to leave a memorable impression.

After the shoot.

brown kraft paper envelope and pen

Your exceptional customer service shouldn’t end with the shoot or the delivery of your client’s gallery. If you want to remain on their radar, it’s important to stay in touch through follow-up communication. This will ensure they keep your name in mind for any future photo needs while also enhancing your client experience.

Send a thank you card.

Mail your client a handwritten note immediately after the shoot to thank them for allowing you to capture moments they can cherish for a lifetime. Make it personal by noting anything that happened during the shoot. A little genuine flattery never hurts either, so feel free to throw in how amazing they looked.

When possible, the note should be written on branded greeting cards that include your name, logo, website URL and contact information. Consider ordering some branded cards now to make sure you have plenty to carry with you through the holidays.

Stay top of mind.

Your bookings shouldn’t be thought of as a one-and-done service. Once a client has booked with you, be sure to keep their name and contact information on file so they receive future marketing communications as a reminder of your exceptional work. 

Send holiday greetings each year to encourage a refresh of their family photos for holiday cards. Market special offers and discounts – including a client referral program and discount – that will make them want to book again. Send them a free print from a previous shoot with a personalized note, just to let them know you’re thinking of them. Don’t sell yourself as affordable, but highlight your value to help them remember why they booked with you the first time around.

Your client experience goes beyond the specific service you were booked for. By taking little steps to improve your customer service this holiday season, you can create a strong base of recurring clients that will keep on giving all year round.

Cheryl is the Director of Customer Engagement at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. She has worked as a professional photographer for more than ten years and her images have been published in several national magazines. She has guided countless new photographers who are looking to build successful photography businesses.

*Promotion valid until November 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new ProSuite annual plan will be automatically applied at checkout with code PROSUITE75. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion. Portfolio, Portfolio Plus and ProSuite plans are currently available to customers in the United States and United Kingdom only.