How is the customer experience for your customers

Nov 9, 2023 | Business

“Show Notes”

Marcus talks through his customers’ experience
Marcus’s customer journey

Marcus likes to respond initial enquiries quickly, ideally within an hour. He then
moves on to trying to setup a Zoom call. As photography is visual, having a visual
call is really

important. That call is all about listening not selling. Zoom also means ideas can be
shared visually.

After this Marcus will send out a quote, which is done automatically using his
CRM. So Marcus doesn’t really talk much about pr that initial call, that
comes in with the quote goes out.

If the job goes ahead Marcus sets up another Zoom call before the shoot. This is a
very creative call, talking about clothes, props and locations. It’s also a great way
to get clients used to working you before you even meet.

People don’t like being photographed.

Marcus think in the UK people would prefer to go to the dentist than have their
photograph taken. That means photographers need lots of…

Techniques to relax people

Chatting to them
Ask them about what people do, what they did at the weekend etc. All the classic
questions to try and engage people.

Get people involved in the process
Shooting tethered means subjects can see the results of the photographs on the

screen. They can then engage much more actively with the photography.
Ask them about clothes, props and angles.

Things Marcus does
Observe

Marcus observes people intently. He is looking for things
they naturally do and then asks them to do those in the photos. It might be a way
they hold their head or a way they hold their hands.

Mirror

This is either you showing them something and ask them to
follow it. Or even better if you can quickly build rapport you can get them to just
automatically copy you. So for example if you cross your arms they do it to.

Direct

This is the classic of the photographer telling the subject
what to do.

After the shoot

Initially Marcus narrows the photos down to about forty or fifty photos that he
sends to the client via an online platform. He has found sending more than this just
confuses the client. These photos have had alight edit, but not much more. From
then what happens depends on the client. Some keep all the images, some make a
selection.

“Show Trabscription”

Sam: Hello, Marcus. Welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Marcus:  I’m good, thank you, Sam. Very well indeed. Yeah. How are you?

Sam: Very good. Excellent. So today we are going to talk about the customer experience. So Marcus is going to kind of take us through right from the first time a customer speaks to you till after they’ve left. They’ve got their photos and they’re happy bunnies. How do we make sure they’re happy bunnies with their photos and how do we make it the best experience for them on the way through? So, Marcus, over to you.

Marcus: Thank you, Sam. Thank you for that great introduction. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to be talking about, the customer experience. But I’m also going to be talking about how as photographers, we can maintain our creativity throughout this whole process. So what I’m going to be looking at is talking about how we deal with initial inquiries, how I take that through my pipeline. I’m going to be talking about dealing with nervous customers or nervous people in front of the camera, which I think most people would agree is nearly everybody. And then we’re going to be talking about, I’m going to give them some tips about how you can work with your client in the studio and get them to come up with ideas.

Sam:  Marcus. Marcus just kind of quickly. Marcus, you know, this show is normally up 15 minutes, not 2 hours.

Marcus: Yeah, I know. I’ve got it condensed. I’ve got it condensed.

Sam: If we’re going to get thorough, I’m amazed. Marcus, I’m ready now.

Marcus: Okay, here we go. Okay, so look, I’m a branding photographer and I would like to think I offer a premium service. I charge good money, my clients get a good service and that’s what I aim for. But as we talked about on other shows, there are different models. You might be doing a model that is quicker turnover, lower price, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m just talking about my own experience. So with the initial inquiry, I try and get back to my customers really quickly.I think they value that people are short on time, people are looking for answers straight away.

Sam: What do you mean by quickly?

Marcus:  I would probably say within an hour. I try and get back within an hour,

Sam: Even from email. So you’re like keeping your own emails?

Marcus: Yeah. Well, I start work at seven. I finish at seven. You’re doing your business aren’t you really? So it’s quite easy to keep on top of things with notifications. And so when they’ve made that unlisted inquiry, the first thing I really like to try and do and encourage them is to get on a zoom call with me, just a 15 minutes call. But the reason I like doing that is because it’s visual. We’re talking about a visual thing, so I can start seeing people, I can start judging their confidence, how they might be in front of the camera, and it starts giving me ideas. My creative process starts right from that point. And zoom just works really well for that. So ideally a zoom for call. And basically that is really spoken to me, listening to them; I just ask one or two questions and really listen to what they want. So I’m not selling or anything, just listening, taking in information.

Sam: Does that work for, you were talking about nervous people. Does that work for most people, or does some people need kind of more pushing than others in that kind of initial call if you want them to talk about people, happy to talk. Does some people need some encouragement or do most people, they turn up and they’re happy to talk about themselves?

Marcus: No, they’re coming to me. Look, they’ve already got know what. They know more about their business than that. I do at that. They know what they want. And so, no, people are very happy to talk. I just give a few questions. And what’s great about zoom as well is that because you can share the screen, so we can start sharing ideas that way as well. Way better than just a phone call, I have to say. Way better. Okay, so then let’s say the job is going to go ahead and I’ll send them a quote and I use my CRM. So that’s all done automatically. I just put in, I’ve got a certain parameters and the quote goes out really quickly, so I don’t really need to spend a lot of time in that. Back in the old days, putting a quote together was really painful, but now with CMRs, it’s a lot easier.

Sam:  So you don’t talk about pricing or much commercially in the zoom call, but then you send them a quote.

Marcus: Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And if it’s a package like we’ve discussed in other shows, they might have a choice where they can pick which different package they’re going for. And then let’s say we’re going to go ahead with the job, near with the date. I’m going to book in another zoom call, and this will be a creative call. This is where we really start talking about styling, what clothes they’re going to wear. And zoom is brilliant for that. We can talk about locations and they might show me around their house with zoom or their office space and yeah, those kind of things, location styling and any props that they might bring or that I might have that will add to the photo shoot. Such a very creative call and I really enjoy doing that. And this is also part of the process, obviously, of warming the client up, getting to be less nervous, explaining to them what we’re doing, telling them the outcome. So this is all part of that preamble before the studio.

Sam: So you’re getting them comfortable with you as a person. So when you meet them, although it might be the first time you met in person, they’ve actually talked to you a lot. They’re feeling happy with you, they’re feeling confident with you, which presume makes a massive difference when you step into that studio, into that photography space.

Marcus: Exactly right, Sam, this is all part of that process. It’s psychological. And photographers as portrait photographers, psychology plays a big part in getting a good. Obviously, you know there are variations or differences and they’re not all branding suits. And we talked earlier about clients nervousness and I know that it seems to me, having been in a fashion background where people are very willing to be photographed coming into branding space, commercial photography, people don’t want to be photographed. They do not like it in this country. In the UK, I think in other places it’s a bit different. In the UK, I think people shouldn’t go to the dentist then have their photo taken.

Sam: That fact.

 Marcus: I think I would have been more popular if I’d have been a dentist. How about that? So, and I, this I really notice in when I’m doing headshots, because when I’m doing headshots, obviously I’ve got a very limited time with the people. I might have to do 20 shots in one session over 3 hours or whatever it’s going to be. You got ten minutes with each person. So I have to get all this preamble about getting people relaxed is out the window. You got to do it really quickly. And the way I do that is by getting people involved in the process. Even I’ve only got ten minutes, I get them involved. So immediately I start looking at what they’re wearing and I’ll be saying, oh, what you have preferred this jacket, that one, whatever it’s going to be. But the main way I do it is by shooting tethered and that means my camera is connected to my laptop, which the client can see or almost see. I sort of turn it away so they can get too into are acting, but they see their images. When I say, well, what do you think of that? And I say, oh, I don’t like it. Or they might think, oh, I really like that. It’s way better than I thought. And then I sort of tweak the lighting and think, well, we’re looking great now. And then I do different things to make them look better in every shot. So I’m building their confidence within a very short time.

Sam: Yeah, so kind of opposite of the school photographer approach, where they were like, there you go, come in, sit down. Put your hands there. Smile at the camera. Buy next.

Marcus:  Exactly. And I really do wonder if this fear of the camera did start in that process about your school photo. I wonder if it does anyhow. So that’s one way I get of dealing with nervous clients, is involvement, explaining to them what’s going on, saying what the lighting does, maybe finding a bit of common ground. We all know about that when we’re talking to them and all that and asking them what they do at the company, whatever. Okay, so let’s now talk about.

Sam: And do you help them with the hands at first? Do you help them with the hands as well? Often when you’re being photographed, people, that’s what, isn’t it? And then we all put our hands in weird places because we don’t know what to do with them and where to put them.

Marcus: Yeah, that’s a tricky one. I mean, when I’m doing headshot, when I’ve got a limited time, I don’t use hands. I mean, I use my hands to take a photo. I don’t employ the client’s hands. Exactly. I know that from working in fashion, hands are difficult. And in fact, you’d have to have a special hand model would come in if they were going to do. It’s a very tricky thing, hand Sam, very tricky in photography. But what you can do is I’ve got these, the studio on location. I keep saying studio. When they’re in front of the camera, there’s three things that I do to get the outcome I need. I observe, I mirror, and I direct. Okay? So i’ll just very quickly break these down. Observation is I’m going to be looking at people really intently, and I’m going to notice movements that they do that I think, oh, that’s really interesting. And I might say, oh, the way you put your hand to your. Could you do that? Or the way you looked over there, could you do that again, that’s obviously something.

Sam: So you’re looking for kind of natural characteristics and trying to capture.

Marcus:  Exactly, Right. natural characteristics. And I’m really concentrating on that, and that’s why it’s good to work with an assistant, and we’ll do that to another show. But work with an assistant, they can take care of everything else while I’m really focusing on my client and seeing any natural stuff that they do that makes them look interesting. Because just going back to what, this idea about creativity and how you bring that into the process, I have got a pretty good idea what I’m looking for with that client, how I’m looking. I’ve got one or two shots in my mind that I really want to try and get out of that session, and I will be really working hard to get those shots, but at the same time for making sure the client is comfortable and getting what they need out of it as well. That’s why I’m talking about that creative process. So observation is part of that. Mirroring is another one. Mirroring is a little bit like what you do when you’re dating. I know I’m always referring to dating, but there you go. It’s like, basically you can show something and they’ll copy it. Or even better, you do something and they’ll copy it. So if they’re very empathic or you’re connected, you might, like, cross your arms, and they’ll cross their arms and you think, well, that’s exactly what I wanted.

Sam: Yeah. So you can almost direct them without having to go, without having to do it explicitly.

Marcus: Yeah. Now, look, that is a difficult thing to do, and it’s something I’ve been working on for many, many years, but it’s an idea I got from the very famous fascimatographer Richard Avidon about how he used to work with his subjects. He’d basically be standing by the camera, not even looking through it, and he’d do something and the people would mirror his actions. Brilliant. I love that. The third one, of course, is the way we all know direction. And this is the one I think is the one that can look a bit forced. You could say, okay, look over here, do this. Or you might have a pin board of images. Or even I do see, what is quite popular these days is posing books, which I’ve never used myself, I must admit.

Sam:  Posing book. I think my daughter must have like thousands of those with all the selfies. Posing books.

Marcus: Well, do you know what? Young people are good in front of the camera because of that selfie thing. They know they’re very comfortable in front of that. Yeah, it’s not a bad thing. Okay. So those are three techniques that I use. But overall, the main thing is you really need to have a vision in your mind of what you want out of it. I think. I think that really helps bring it together.

Sam: Cool. And then we’re kind of getting. Sorry, we’re kind of getting low on time. So I’m wondering about if you can talk a little bit about the delivery. What kind of, what’s the customer experience? Like this. So you kind of talked about the beginning, the kind of middle, and then do you want to talk a little bit, quite briefly about the end? Kind of. What’s the expert? Is it just like, I’ll email you the photos, bang, they arrive on the desk, or is there kind of a bit more to it than that?

Marcus: Hey, look. Okay. And do you know what I’m going to do, Sam? I’m going to make another show out of the studio process because I’ve got some more to add to that. And yeah, I think it’s worth that. And I’ve also got a newsletter bonus for some of our listeners who have signed up to our newsletter, which is a really useful tip about getting people, making them look really authentic and real.

Sam:  So if you do want to sign up for the newsletter, you go to website4photographers.Co.UK. So websiteforphotographers.Co.UK Forward Slash podcast. You can sign up there, and like Marcus says, you get bonus content, you get access to get meetings, others, and all sorts of extra bits and pieces. Sorry, Marcus. So you were talking about what happens after the photo shoot.  

Marcus: Okay, let’s move on to that. So basically, the way I work is, look, when I’m working with a client, I might have, I don’t know, 600 shots I might have taken. Child, there’s no way I’m going to send them that many. I mean, back in the day, I used to send them loads and I found out it just get people confused and they didn’t like it. Nowadays I edit them down and by that means I don’t retouch them, but I make a selection down to around about 50 photos. 40 or 50 photos, depending on the package they bought, of course. I then send those on to the client via a platform where they can see them online and then they can select from there or have the whole lot. And if they some that they’re going to be using their profile photo for a really key photo, I’ll edit it, maybe more and do things like send them a PNG of it with no background in that kind of thing. But yeah, basically it’s a fairly simple process. At the end, they get to see the photos a limited amount and they can then choose the ones they want.

Sam:  Excellent. So are you saying you haven’t processed them at all before you show them to them?

Marcus:  I’ve done a light edit, Sam. I’ve not done an indoor retouch, but I’ve done a light edit. Color correction, definitely. Cropping? Definitely. Well, actually not definitely. And things like that. A light.

Sam: So, so just if I get the process right. So before doing any editing, you will dump most of them. You’ll just literally flick through, dump most of them, because this is obviously saving time for a lot of people. You then have a selection, which is most of the ones do you want, but maybe with a few extras that do a light edit, they then choose and then do kind of more of a heavy edit on Some and not others. Do you do more from there?

Marcus:  Yeah, normally I don’t need to, Sam. People don’t ask for it, really. I spend a lot of time getting it right in camera, the lighting, etc, etc. And I use different lighting for different skin types or different personality or different whatever. So I try and avoid doing too much editing.

Sam: Makes sense. Okay, yeah. Cool. Exactly. Brilliant. Thank you, Marcus. That is a brilliant end to end to end customer experience. Do you want to take us through each stage and just give us one key thing at each stage of the process? Kind of the beginning, the middle, the photo shoot itself in the end.

Marcus:  I mean, basically what we’ve got is the initial contact when you’re basically selling your product. And that I do prefer to do over Zoom if I can, because we can really talk about the nuances, et cetera. And that is part of the also, then I have another call with them as that’s part of the build up about getting them more confident and getting them more involved in the process, in the photo shoot itself. I’m looking for those key, three key things to move the shoot along observation, mirroring and direction. But overall, I do have an idea in my mind how I want this shoot to go. And even though I will bend over backwards to make sure my client is happy, I will always achieve my creative goals. That is very important to me. And then finally I send off a selection, a very tight selection of images for the client to choose from there.

Sam:  Brilliant. Thank you, Marcus. That is amazing. Another brilliant show. Thank you very much. I will see you next week.

Marcus: Thank you, Sam. And you’re right, I did go over, didn’t I? Sorry about that.

Sam: No problem. See you next week. All right, mate, next time. Bye bye.