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Customer Service

Lesson 26 from: Baby Plans: Photographing the Early Years

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

26. Customer Service

Next Lesson: What is Collateral?


Class Trailer



Class Introduction


What is a Baby Plan?


7 Steps to Baby Plan Success


Shooting Prep for the 4-5 Month Old "Smiling Stage"


4-5 Month Olds: Tummy Time and Headshots


4-5 Month Olds: Basket Shot


The Baby Plan Structure


Lesson Info

Customer Service

customer service. I think this is so important and probably could be the entire half of the class. Your customer service is your product. It is half of your product. We are a service business. What do you do for a living, Dana? What do you do for a living? What do you do? You take pictures, right? Okay. You preserve memories, right? We talked about this the other day. But are you a retail business? I knew you are not a retail business. As much as you would like to think that you are, you're not retail. And why are you not retail? Like, What's the technical definition of why you're not a retail business you don't have? Yeah. Yeah. Keep inventory. That was the magic word I was looking for. Don. You nailed it. We don't have any inventory. Yes, she just nailed it. You don't have a product that you've purchased from someone else. Like a wholesaler that you're trying to then resell to the consumer at a retail value. Okay. Your studio? Yes. You show products. You show examples, but your clien...

ts not gonna wanna buy that example off the wall because it's not them. It's not their family. It's not their kid, right? So what does that mean? You are a service business. You sell emotion, you sell an experience. Okay? It's important to note that that experience and you've heard so many photography teachers say this, right? It's an experience. Make the experience amazing. That will make you stand out in the unique right. We've heard that left and right. What are they really telling you? To dio provide amazing customer service. That's what they're telling you to dio. Okay, Customer service is half of what you do people. It really, really is. If you can do one thing that will improve your business, the whole business, let alone a baby plan right now is go home and maximize your customer service make. It's the priority in your studio. It's fun to because no other photographer does it. So you get to show off and you get to be like, Yeah, I know. I've got my game on. I know my customer service is better than yours. Do you? I'm saying so. I know my business is better. Then you stop competing on price. It doesn't become so important because you know you're gonna outsell out, serve out everything. The other person. Okay, customer service is part of your product line. Did you know that research shows that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they're being treated in the business? I go back toe apple because not only do they produce an amazing product, but they provide incredible sub customer service with Apple Care, the restaurant down the street, Drake and My and My Town called Drake Amazing Food. But they treat my kid like he's God's gift to the planet, even though it's a high end, fancy four star restaurant that's about to the spot to get nominated for James Beard Award. I mean, it's a nice restaurant, and I bring my kid in there all the time cause I will love their food. Their chef is amazing. Here's the clincher. I just booked the chef and his new baby life, but they're about to have a baby. That's the way this kind of thing happens in a small town. I love that restaurant and were the reasons because they treat my child so beautifully. The wait staff on the customer service is absolutely incredible, absolutely incredible this place created life. Why do I keep coming back to teach classes? Well, number one I like it. Number two. It works for me. But number three, the people here treat me like I am God's gift to the planet. I'm so not, but they love me and they're still kind and they're easy to work with. And they they just want to care to me, left and right And the sets were all done and everybody's taking care of me. And it's like, Holy cow! I want to hang out with Tom. I work here. I mean that. I mean, all the audiences agree. It's a fun place to be, isn't it? It just has This are about it, and everybody's happy all the time and nobody complains. And the higher ups staff go out to dinner with the lower staff. I mean, it's just like this, this leadership environment that creates for stellar customer service and essentially I am one of their customers because I'm instructor who's hired by the association by the organization to teach you as students are also their customers. Do you know what I mean? But the reason I keep coming back half The reason I keep coming back and turning down other opportunities is because it's so fun to be here. The experience is incredible. Okay, so how you feel you are treated in the business is 70% of the reason why you choose that business. Why you choose to do business with that company. Okay, so what you're doing, What are you doing in your own business? To make your customer service irresistible? Number one, I want you to create ah customer service road map so literally go through your client, workflow your system and ask yourself how you can improve the customer service in that Rome in each step of the way. So make a road map. So as you go through your client workflow, what customer service things are you doing to make sure the client is happy? Things like in our studio? The nursery is the client lounge, and that's where they hang out. There's a changing table there. There's three sides of the diapers. There's wipes. There's a boppy pillow for breastfeeding. There's a refrigerator with snacks for every kind of sibling possible. There's granola bars. There's oatmeal. There's a cure egg. There's hot chocolate coffee sugar free. This full fat that I mean everything is there for the client to just have breakfast? A little mini breakfast? It's We take care of them from start to finish. When they come in for that newborn session, they don't have to lift a finger. They just have to get there. We will take care of the rest. Okay. Have that mentality in your customer service road map. What would make me feel good? I just had a baby or I have a three month old or a six month old. What's gonna help me? I have this little yogurt puff things a little, many things that the six month old love to chew on those air suitable right? Organic kind, the little finger foods, baby food. All that stuff is there so that the client forgot something. It's we provide it. It's OK that even just seeing that there, if they don't need to use it, they see that go while they're really prepared. That's important. You want them to say that about you? So make a customer service road map, deliver on your promises. If you're gonna promise something to a client under promise and over deliver. Always create that personal connection with the client by doing an amazing pre consultation. You're creating that personal connection with them, and that is good customer service because it is a commissioned work, their commissioning you to take their portrait and create art for them. So that means you need to get to know them and get in deep with them on a personal level. And when you do that, that is in itself, providing customer service that creates an experience, right? Know your client, know who they are, how they think how they tick, make them feel like they're the only client you have, and they know that they're not. But when you make them feel that way, it does wonders for their self esteem, for their their opinion of the experience and for their attitude during the process creativelive another example. When I come here to teach, I feel like I'm the only instructor they have, because that's how they treat me. So what happens is it makes me think positive, get happy. Everyone here is happy. So when we have a technical problem or an issue going on, I'm like cares will deal with it. Whatever you have a positive attitude about stuff I as a customer ago. Oh, so not a big deal. And the reason I do that because they're so nice and easy to work with. If they were grumpy and annoying and demanding of me and it's under center, then when something went wrong, I'd be like That's not happening. So really think about your customer service along every aspect of your business. Remove barriers to information, connective, iti and collaboration. The more information you give a client, the happier they are, the more involved they feel with the process. Okay, connectivity, let them connect with you. Answer your phone if they can't get ahold of you. You know I'm guilty of this two guys. I am so guilty. This is all you funny. I mean, there are so many times and clients call me and I forget to call back and you get busy and sucked into other stuff. And as a business owner and you get busier and busier, these are the lessons you have to learn. I haven't learned of all yet. I know what I'm supposed to do, but I don't always have the roadmap to to do it all the time. So I'm telling you all this because this is like the ideal. But I'm not even there myself yet, you know, I still have to, like, work on communication and making sure clients get ahold of me at all hours of the night. So there will be areas where you're going toe not be strong at, You know, you're gonna be a little weak. If that's the case, then you really have to focus on making a plan to fix that. Okay? Attitude is everything. Yeah, Carmen, Go ahead. Sorry. Question. I know you were saying about communication. If you have a set, our schedule that you say, Hey, I have toe. You know, I work from, let's say, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Ben. Also. Do you work after hours? I know you do, because I see you on the on the net time answering. But what I mean is, you know, everybody wants toe have that barrier where they work. And then they also want to have a life. A life after that. I know at the beginning, when I started, I had a problem being able to set my grounds and say, I'm not working after this time. I don't have Children. Eso it doesn't really hurt me, but I know the people that do. They want to cut. They want to be able to go there. Kids, games, stuff like that. What I mean by that is where I'm trying to get to is Do you set your boundaries as a business owner and say I don't answer my phone after this time? Because this is business hours. Been on top of that, you'll get the clients that sometimes will say, Hey, well, I only worked during the work hours and I can't come after I could only come after 678 oclock at night. What do you do? I mean everybody. Oh, my answer is really crappy. That's why I'm laughing. Um, I suck it that I'm one of my big enough Africa was just talking to Arlene here, who's one of the higher ups were alive, and I was like, I need your help, Arlene, I need Teoh figure out of work life balance because my kid is turning for and I came was coming to Creativelive, and he's sitting there crying, going, Mommy, don't go and that is just heartbreaking. And as a mother, balancing life work editing sessions, phone calls, all that is so draining because I want to spend time with my kids. But I also love my business, and I love my clients, and I love teaching more than anything. I love teaching, so I'm going to travel and do that because I'm passionate about it. But I have to make up for it elsewhere as far as the hours go. Yeah, I work Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Okay, That's when clients can get ahold of me on the studio phone line. I have I had one of the ways I kind of separated. Was it? I have a studio phone line. My clients do only very select. Few clients have my cell phone number, so I don't give out myself another. So I'm not getting random text in the middle of the night from clients. Okay, that would annoy the bejesus out of me. And I don't do that. However, I am constantly online in the education group at night, and when that happens is like before I'm going to bed. I need to wind down beds. Go answer a few things. It's kind of on my own time cause I'm bored. So I'm looking my phone. That's something that's really more what that's about. But as far as setting boundaries, you know well, if a client says to me, one of the reasons I chose newborns is because I have to work weekends because parents are on maternity and paternity leave and they can come in whenever now, with baby planners, that's different. I try to schedule sessions in the morning ordering appointments in the afternoon. However, there are times when clients can't come in the afternoon and we'll do our best to schedule it later in the day. Like four o'clock is like my last order an appointment. But I have to pick up my kid at 5 30 from daycare every day. And if that ordering session goes beyond that, I'm screwed because I got to go pick up my kid. So if that's the you know, what I try to ask people is, if somebody really can't come during business hours and yeah, I will schedule an after hours business appointment, but they know I have a child. They know I'm juggling work life, too. And they they try, for the most part to accommodate me and I them. If that happens that I make sure Rob, my husband can pick up my kid from school and I'll do an after hours order appointment and I do after evening shoots. I mean, in the summer, I go outside and do evening sessions and the sun isn't for consenting till eight o'clock at night around here. So I'm out doing sessions oclock at night on Wednesday, Thursday nights in the summer. So and Friday's even so it's really thank God I have my my husband to balance that out. If I was a single parent, I probably wouldn't be able do that because, you know, I need to find somebody to watch my kid and juggle that. So I guess, Carmen, what I'm saying is, yes, you can set hours for things and be strict about it. There will always be exceptions. There's always gonna be a crisis or a fire. You've got to put out which should be dealt with right away. There's other times went for me and personally in my own type. A personality is I need to really learn to control how much I'm on my phone. I need to put it away. It's hard. I like I'm addicted to it. I can't I can't. I can't like Oh, and it's a point of contention in my marriage even. I mean, you know, it's one of those things where it's a personal thing. You got to figure out what works and what doesn't and stick to it. It's almost like being an addict. You got like wean yourself off and go through withdrawal for a little while on dime. Still saw the reason I'm hesitant to give. I'm trying to give you full answer, but I don't feel like it's a very good one, because I don't even have a grasp on that myself. As faras work life balance goes. So I can't fully seo do this this and this because I'm still trying to figure it out to um, yeah, I work too much. I know that I work way too much. I tended, uh, well, I When I started, I was working constantly like that. And within the past year that I started working with new clients I started implementing and in their head that I was only open from this time to this time and that we would be in the studio from this time to this time and that if, for any reason the answering machine was there, we would reach out to them the next following day. So now I started doing that, and I feel like I am getting the, you know, the, you know, a success that I wanted. But then sometimes, like you said, you have to put out fire. So I didn't know if you had a specific time frame, er, what was the latest that you did? But that only makes sense because, like, for example, right now, Texas Oh my God, I am having to schedule sessions left and right because we've had almost a month now of rain every day. And I'm on outdoor photographer. So it's not like I'm always in the studio, and that's kind of like where you said, you know, you have to do what you have to do well, when you when that happens to me, too. When I go away to these schools, like to these teaching events and all half a bunch of babies that are due date booked and they'll deliver early and late and I get bunched together. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, Or worse yet when my son gets sick and then I get hits cold and I got to stay home with him cause he's sick and then I get it. So I got to stay home since a to three week period. I'm backed up after that. I just got to get him in whenever I can get in and make up for it. That's a fire that I gotta put out. But yeah, I work. Life balance is a huge problem as a business owner and something that all of us struggle with, and I honestly don't have a handle on it either. But like you, I have set specific hours. People know that I've tried hard to communicate to my clients that hey, if you can get here during business hours, that would help us out so much. What can we do to help you get there? How can we come toe the middle ground makes sense. And what this really comes down to, guys. I mean, we're talking about it now. Communication is key, and it's it's the key to customer service. If if things go wrong. But you're communicating with your client, you have just soothed a wound if they're upset with you in some way. But you're communicating an open, honest way. Even if it's your fault, you fully take responsibility for it. Admit it and move forward. You are doing your best to sue the wound. I have a photographer right now who is upset with me because I dropped the ball on a mentoring, a phone call mentoring session with her, and she's upset with me and she has every right to be upset with me, and I dropped the ball. The only thing I could do is apologize and try to make up for it. And you know, then there's a point where the ball is in their court and they have to decide if they want to continue working with you or not. And if I lose, there is a customer, I'll be it'll be sad. I'll be bummed out and I'll know Julia screwed up. Don't do that again. Do you know? I'm saying so. It's a learning process for all of us, and the forgiveness goes both ways. You have to figure yourself for doing something wrong and stupid, and they have to forgive you and move on. And that's just human humanity. That's just being a good person and a human being and moving forward. But if long as you're communicating with them, which could be a challenge sometimes, like I said, I just dropped the ball on this photographer and didn't communicate with her well enough, and that was my fault. Eso fix it, Fix the problem. Do your best to fix it. But they have to be receiving and open to fixing it to You know, there's clients out there whom you try to fix stuff and they just feel entitled and mad and hold a grudge and be resentful. And there's nothing you can do about that. You just have toe do your best and hope that it gets better and do what you can to make up for him. Okay, okay. Again. Welcome. Complaints and restaurant respond quickly with quality okay and know the value of the rule of reciprocity. What is represent? Reciprocity, games, reciprocity. What do you think that means? The rule of reciprocity? Exactly. The rule of reciprocity and customer service world means when someone gives you something or does something nice for you, you feel an innate obligation to return the favor. It's true, right? When someone gives you a gift for your birthday. You kind of feel like you gotta do the same thing back to that right? It's the rule of reciprocity is a human nature thing, but it's something that is highly valued and customer service. So, I mean, how does it feel to you when you wait on hold on the phone with the company to open a package and not be certain how to follow the properly translated instructions? You know that's a challenge. You're frustrated cause you can't put something together to stand in line, be charged a fee, wait for a service call that was promised two hours ago or come back to an online shopping cart that's no longer there. An hour later, these things they're all frustrating parts of customers that our customer service, but it's a flaw in this is in the system of the student of the business. Does that make sense? There's a flaw in the system of the business that's causing poor customer service. What's it like to be remembered to receive hopeful suggestions to get everything exactly as it was promised to be confident that the answers you that you get are the best ones for you to be pleasantly surprised by a business. There are two kinds of reciprocity. Trumpeted reciprocity is basic, deliberate and unique efforts. Toe Wow, the customer above and beyond what was expected. Okay, so, for example, there was a story once where a guy was on a call with the Tech Center Computer Tech Center and troubleshooting something, and they were on the phone. You know how you could be on the phone. I was on the phone with Apple for, like, 45 minutes a day, and it just takes a long time to troubleshoot things to figure out what's wrong. Well, the guy who is having the problem I just mentioned to the customer service agent that he was hungry, like I don't They were talking you how you start to talk to people. So the customer service guy on the Tech guy on the phone ordered a pizza for the guy and had it sent to him. That went viral. How cool is that? That is trumpeted customer service. He went above and beyond what he was supposed to do to help that guy get his computer running. Cool. It totally surprised him. Wow, It's like, Oh my God, I think I just ordered pizza for me. You will remember him forever. And you will love that company forever, won't you? And that $20 pizza that went viral over the Internet just gave the best average. It's impossible to that company. I forget which company. But now surprise reciprocity is a little more subtle. OK, it's the part of the experience when you do business with certain companies but comes as a surprise to the customer Now. Granted, the pizza thing was a little bit of surprise, but this is like surprises like that are subtle. Like, for example, when you buy an apple product but new IPhone and it comes in the box and you're like how this is so neatly put together like it. It's not that wow moment. But it's that little surprise that you're like, Oh my gosh, this is so well designed and a pleasure to open. Do you know what I mean? That is surprised reciprocity, and you could do that every day in your studio, just the packaging or issue summit packaging. My clients comment all the time. Oh, it's such a pretty package to open when I package my digital files have a really cute way of putting everything in the box and making it all adorable and every single clanking. You just do think so nice. I love that feeling. It makes me feel like I've provided an experience for them. That's a small little surprise. So stand for something as like as a business, when you stand for something of value of moral, that's high and have a speak from a strong purpose not only in your marketing message but also in your customer service. Your clients are gonna feel that and resonate with it, and your customer service is gonna be elevated anymore. I've talked about purpose and so many of my workshops. Why do you do what you do? What is your reason for being in business and what is your cause? Your customers don't buy what you do making portrait. They buy why you do it because they believe in the same moral values that you do and when your customer service comes from that place as well, which is 50% of your product line. You've just elevated yourself to a brand. That's incredible. Okay. A study by the corporate executive board that included 7000 consumers from across the U. S. Found that of those consumers who said they had a strong relationship with the company, 64% cited share values shared values as the primary reason. So, in other words, the reason they were doing business with companies because they believe the same things the company did. 64% of 7000 consumers said that that the reason I do business with whoever Apple is because they believe in what I believe in. So companies that speak from that marketing message and everything that they do systems they create promotions, they do customer service they provide. If it's all done from that place of of why, and screamed loudly, then people are gonna resonate with that, and they're going to become loyal evangelists of your of your business and customers for life. Okay, 78% of customers have bailed on an intended transaction because of a poor experience. That was a study done by American Express. I've done it. Have you done it? Do This place sucks. We're not gonna business here ever again. They're so mean here or there. Rude. I'm not gonna patronize them again. Patronized? Meaning? Buy something from them. Not the other Value, not the other definition of the word. In 11 2086% of consumers quit doing business with the company due to poor transaction or service experience, versus 59% in 2007. That was done by the customer experience report of North America. That was the report that came out in 2011. 86% of customers in quit doing business with a company because of poor service versus 59% in 2007. That should tell you that customer service is becoming more and more and more important in business. There are so many companies out there competing for our business that if you create good customer service, you're leading the pack. Don't you want to be the one leading the pack in your town with your photography studio? No, They're all looking at each other going. I gotta work on this. The effects of good customer service well one, you differentiate yourself. Number two, you become unique. Number three. It elevates the client's idea of your business in their mind. Okay, they feel good working with you, and they want to come back and you deep in your relationship with them. Wow, What's that doing? Blue. That's your brand. It's building and contributing to your brand. What is a brand? It's how a consumer feels about your business. Customer service is a huge component of that. Do you see why customer service is your product line? You, Stellan experience. You sell emotion. You do not sell the paper it's printed on. You sell customer service. The printed product at the end is just the reminder of the experience. When you go on vacation, do you take pictures? Why do you take pictures of your vacation so you can experience the vacation all over again, huh? So you can go back to that moment when you were in Maui, on the beach with your kids. Your business is the exact same thing your client comes through and has an experience with you that's connected with emotion. And the tangible product at the end of that is purely a reminder of that experience. Okay, so if you combine gorgeous, tangible product that helps to connect their mind with your customer service, you have a winning recipe for success. If the experience with you was ho hum or so so or worse yet bad, every time they look at those images, they are going to think of that. Is that what you want? No. We want our customers to look at those images and not only, you know, love their Children, even mawr. But we wanted to take them back to the experience of having those portrait's made and to think positively of you. If your clients go somewhere else for portrait's because it's cheaper, that may be true. But you should also take a long, hard look at your customer service and ask if you did everything possible to make sure that client doesn't leave you with that type of service. If you provided service that was so incredible, they wouldn't believe, no matter what does that service has value to it, especially when you're trying to command high dollar for your portrait. You had better create customer service that matches that the brand must match the price. The brand must match the price. Do you see that now? And the brand includes is customer service is a component of your brand. So next meaning? Tomorrow we're gonna discuss Photoshopped design and editing, of course. And the biggie is launching and marking your baby plan to the mast. All those little seeds of wheat out there. How are they gonna find you, Jimmy? Questions How we do like rain mounting. I confess. Yet they're like, Oh, I'm going. All shoot. I gotta go home and fix my customer service. I could see that going. Carmen and Courtney Love ages ago. We got a lot of work to dio. I totally get it. I've been there, done that. Got multiple teams, start anything how you put it that. You know, all of a sudden you have a client who you turn in the final product You worked so hard with, um, through that whole process. If for any reason you dropped the ball towards the end, all that process that you did the hard work that you did since the beginning, that one sour thing can completely ruin his relationship with them in You know, you don't think about that stuff, but sometimes you, you know, you're get caught up in your so busy that you don't realize. And, you know, when you said that I started thinking back, Okay. You know, I'm not the perfect photographer you have. We have the good ones. We have the bad clients. But they see that product. They're excited about it. But then you show it. They show it to the friend, says they're proud of it, and they love it. And then what happens? It becomes a conversation that Oh, my God, these are gorgeous. Where'd you get him from? And the first thing they're gonna say Either it was a great experience or it was the worst experience. And they're selling it for you. Yes, they are selling it so right. The most grateful experience. They're gonna love you no matter whether your product is not the I. Actually, that's exactly true. And if you're beginning photographer and you know your work needs work, right, if you provide stellar customer service, it's not gonna matter like you'll be able to grow your business. Still, even though your work may not to be up to the par that you see other photographers doing, and I truly think that that's one of the reasons why there are lots of wonderful photographers out there who are poorest church mice. And there's really bunny. Photographer is making 1,000,000 bucks a year because they know how to run a business and they know how to treat their customers. And they know how to create an experience. And they associate that with the end final tangible product. You're absolutely right. But isn't that kind of cool? That means that if you do, you don't have to be the best. You don't have to be an amazing photographer in order to do well. You just have to run a business and treat your clients right and connect and build emotion and have good systems and stellar customer service and a beautiful brand. And if you have that, your work will get there, too. And if you have that, you can charge what you're worth. The brand has to match the price. If the brand matches the price, your set you are set. That's why I think branding is so important. I'm sorry, passion about it. It's really important, like a brand and can make or break your business why you think companies spend billions of dollars protecting their brands, billions of dollars protecting their brands. That is like the most coveted thing they have. They do not want to lose that, so you should treat your brand the same way.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Customizable BP Postcard Templates
Customizable Recipe Tag Templates
Customizable Stat Card Templates
Baby Plan Images
How The Baby Plan Works
Baby Plan Resource Guide
Baby Plan Success Checklist

Ratings and Reviews

Natalia Malinko

I just finished to watch this course. And I confess: I've been struggled all the time during the viewing to say already: I LOVE IT! So, I LOVE this course! Julia is so nice teacher, and photographer, and person. And she is so incredible organizator of whole child's photography business. She is amazing, so meticulous, so persuasive trough all and each one of the important points of this business. And she is just great in the part of studio´s shooting examples with the babies. This is one of the best and most valuable courses I found in Creative Live, thanks!

Dawn Potter

I've been so fortunate to be able to be a part of the Live audience experience with Julia. She is an amazing person, photographer and teacher. She does a fantastic job of explaining in detail, the steps she has taken that have helped her success as well as the steps that have set her back. We are so lucky to be able to learn from her experiences and to have someone who is willing to put herself out there to teach us and help us to grow as photographers. For anyone considering adding a Baby Plan to their portrait offerings, this class is a MUST have. Julia, you are #awesomesauce !! xoxo - Dawn Potter

Student Work