Hi! I’m Megan Gibbons, and I’m a wife, mom, and a custom portrait photographer. I started my photography business 2 years ago, shortly after we moved across the pond from Northern Virginia, USA to Oxfordshire, England. Once a year over the summer holiday (or “hols” as the locals call it 🙂 I travel home to Northern Virginia, USA to visit with family and serve my growing clientele in my home town of Leesburg, VA, USA; where we will relocate to permanently in the Summer of 2016.
After completing a branding exercise last year, the two words my husband used to describe me were “relational” and “emotional”. Those words caused quite a furor on my end that evening, but I’ve come to embrace them as positives and channel them into my work and relationships every opportunity possible.
Your #1 and Best Differentiator in a sea of photographers.
How many times in the last month have you thought, “Nailed it! I’m really getting good at this!” only to have your spirits dampened the next day when you realize there are 10 new photographers in your town, and guess what, they are using the same equipment, taking the same classes, producing similar images, they have an awesome website (just like you!), and darned if you don’t kind of like the photographer and their images too! The good news is, they.are.not.you. You have an opportunity to separate yourself from the pack by finding the #1 thing that makes you, well, YOU.
How do you figure out what that is? Think about why you got into this business in the first place. For me, and a lot of other photographers, I wanted to feel good about what I was doing and also wanted to feel like I was making someone happy and giving them an amazing experience. Sounds pretty simple right, but how do I put that into practice? Like most, I send the handwritten thank you notes and small gifts once a year, but for me, every single day and every single interaction, customer service is my #1 priority when I’m working with a client. Yes, I want my clients to love their images and the whole experience I provide; and smile, gush, or giggle when they get my handwritten note and small gift, but more than anything, I want them to feel like I treated them like gold.
The best part about this? Amazing customer service is, for arguments sake, 100% free. It’s provided in your general attitude and tone, your response time, your ability to properly set expectations that align with your business model and execute against those expectations, and maybe the most important part of amazing customer service: how you handle feedback and criticism- ouch, always a tough one!
Not convinced that this could be your biggest differentiator? Have a look at these statistics:
- It takes 12 positive experience to make up for one negative (Source: Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner)
- A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related versus price related. (Source: Bain & Co.)
- 3 in 5 Americans (or 59%) would try a new brand or company for a better experience. (Source: American Express)
- 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (Source: McKinsey).
Now think about your customer service model. Is there anything you could be doing differently? How are you capturing your customers experience? Through surveys, a phone call, is the data quantifiable (i.e., 100% customer satisfaction rates)? How do you handle client feedback, both positive and criticism? If you decide that customer service is your #1 differentiator, make it known to the world! Make sure it’s amply implied on your website, your marketing materials, and all client communication. And lastly, consider developing your own set of customer service principles.
Here are mine 🙂
Customer service. That is my #1 differentiator in a sea of photographers and what separates me from the pack. What’s yours? I would love to hear from you!