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Customer Service Best Practices: On–Location

Lesson 5 from: Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp

Julia Kelleher

Customer Service Best Practices: On–Location

Lesson 5 from: Studio Systems: A Photography Business Bootcamp

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

5. Customer Service Best Practices: On–Location


Class Trailer

Free Bootcamp Introduction


Introduction to Studio Systems Bootcamp Part 1


Introduction to Studio Systems Bootcamp Part 2


Photography Studio Customer Service


Customer Service Part 1


Customer Service Part 2


Customer Service Best Practices: On–Location


The Customer Experience: Client P.O.V. Studio Walk-Through & Session: On–Location


Photo Session Systems & Image Workflow Systems


Photography Session Systems


The Studio as a System to Success: On–Location


Image Workflow—From Camera to Client


Post-Processing Systems


Back-Up Systems


Sales & Ordering Workflow Systems


Overview of Successful Selling: The 6 Ps of Selling Part 1


The 6 Ps of Selling Part 2


The 6 Ps of Selling Part 3


Real Life Sales Consult: On–Location


Tracking and Packing an Order: On–Location


Dealing With Client Objections & Problem Personalities, with Consistency


Pricing & Financial Systems


Financial Tracking—The Power of Knowing Your Numbers


The Science of Pricing-—A System for Your Products


Building Packages That Work


Your First Outsource: Accounting: On–Location


Marketing, Branding & Promotional Systems


The Importance of a Solid Brand System


Living Your Brand: Inside the Studio: On–Location


Researching Your Market


Marketing Systems


Understanding Buying "triggers" and Using them in Your System of Promotion


What We've Covered: Getting Systems Right


Why Systems Are Important - and How They Help


What's Your Plan - Let's Talk 5 Years Ahead


What's Important - Let's Prioritize


Where do you start? - Dealing with the Demon Inside


Looking In the Mirror: Finding Success


The Power of Never Giving Up


Getting Back to Your Purpose - Why Do You Do What You Do?


Introducing the BIG WINNER!


Lesson Info

Customer Service Best Practices: On–Location

Hi and welcome to studio systems of photography business bootcamp today's lesson is all going to be about customer service best practices, getting inside a real studio and seeing what it's like from the employees and from the studio's perspective, customer service is so vital, such an important part of your workflow. Why? Well, let's, ask ourselves the first question, what do you really sell? We've discussed in previous lessons how important it is to understand that customer service is half of your product line, because we really are a service oriented business were not a retail business, I don't have inventory here of the studio that I'm going to try to sell to someone who walks in my door in a typical or classic retail environment. Everything I do is custom for each client and it's all commissioned art pieces so it's really important understand that, yes, the art is my product, but the experience of doing that is also half of my product line, so when you ask yourself what you sell, c...

ustomer service is fifty percent of your product line, and with that means providing an experience and an emotional response to the experience in your clients so that when they leave your studio, they feel like they had an amazing time, the associate positive emotions with the images and artwork that you've provided them, which will overall elevate and lift your brand so we're going to go inside my studio. We're going to talk to a few people. You're going to see some perspectives that are different from the studio owners perspective when it comes to customer service, I want you to think about if you have employees or if you're just on your own. You are your own employees, you should have a customer service system in your studio that is consistent, it happens every time and you're mindful of your clients wants and needs. So if you do have employees it's important to train them, to be mindful of your brand and the customer service system that you want to provide to your clients and it's important to help your customers, excuse me, your employees see the power in good customer service and what it does overall for your business, not only in the perception that your clients have your business and the overall brand, but how that intern translates to referrals, word of mouth, referrals and a good reputation in your community. So we're going to see it in a studio in action. We are going to learn from a different perspective from not necessarily the customer's point of view like we've seen in other segments, but but from people who work in my studio from their perspective and what it means to them to create good customer service and my hope is that you'll glean some tips from this and learn to be your own employees putting customer service as a priority in your studio so we're going to interview to belinda board who is my studio manager to see her perspective we're also going to interview lauren to both who is my studio assistant she helps me with all the chutes she's very close contact with our customers on an in person basis and there's a few things throughout these two interviews that I want you to look for okay so first of all on the phone belinda's role is to be on the phone and create that connection with the customer via a phone conversation so note the language that she uses and talks about I want you to listen for how she connects to clients and conversations and see where she puts the priority in the conversation what's important when it comes to customer service or creating a good good customer service relationship in that conversation and I want you to kind of think about it from ah clients perspective how would you feel if she was treating you this way and how does that change your perspective on your own business? Then when we talked to lauren, I really want you to think about the in person aspects of customer service note how? She uses body language, teo, you create that customer service, and this is going to be an interview, situations you're going to hear about what she does not necessarily see it in action just yet. But it's super important to kind of listen for her language and what she says she does to create that connection with the customer, look for what she uses to create connection in conversation, the personal attention that she provides to our clients, as well as the control she has over the session. In combination with working with me, we as a team create very much controlled environment in the studio with the illusion that the customer is the one controlling the environment it's a delicate balance between making the customer feel like they have input like they're they're on there request, but while at the same time, you, as the artist taking control of the of the session, making your own and having creative control ultimately over the outcome of those images and most importantly, really hone in on the way she really tries to provide a good demeanor and genuine care for every single client who walks through that door because that's ultimately what's going to make the client happy with the experience and associate that experience with the images, which ultimately leads to higher profits and good word of mouth referrals let's take a look I wanted to introduce you to my city assistant lauren to bo's lawrence been with me for about a year now and her role as faras how we deal with customer service is so important she works with me in the newborn sessions as my hands on assistant right with the camera work and everything but then also for safety has an extra set of hands for the newborn baby but having her presence here when customers come through the door it's really critical and her mind is always in number one helping me and making sure baby safe but also on the comfort of the customer and I kind of wanted to just talk to her, live it so you can see inside her head and what her goals are and creating that customer experience for our clients. So thanks for being here, lauren. I appreciate it so good, so you're that extra set of hands what do you think that I I know we know this, but what does that? What does it really do in your mind for a mother's comfort level? Well, I think it's a challenge when families walk in the door and automatically it's you know, their five day old they're six day old and so they're trusting that we're going to really be there to take care of them, so knowing automatically that there's two people I think is just unease in itself because it does allow them to kind of feel like okay, you know, even when she's behind the camera there is this other person there that is going to be there for their safety first and foremost oh yeah most definitely what are you thinking though when they come in the door how er how is your mindset kind of moving in the direction of making sure they have a good customer experience, right? Well, I think just part of the philosophy here at the studio is making sure that customers come first that you know, we're really friendly that they feel comfortable that we're welcoming and accommodating so mean right off the bat you know, I'm making sure that I am that friendly face that they're greeted with and, you know, introducing myself making sure that they're getting comfortable in the changing room, you know, making sure that they're ready kind of for that next step for meeting you and for kind of beginning the whole introduction phase of the session and asking them you know, do you need anything? Can I grab you some coffee? Can I grab you some water? You know, just making sure that they're really feeling like we care about their comfort level as soon as they get here? I think there's a layer of that that we like in that were in essence taking a comfortable control of the client of the baby of the sessions so that it can go smoothly for us the way we want to get good images and so the more control we have over the client and their needs the better it goes for us because they realize that everything's handled would you yeah, I think yeah it's a professional environment toe where exactly there once you're welcoming them and they're feeling comfortable in there feeling like okay, they have this covered they know what they're doing then it's left you know it's it's less about them feeling like they need to introduce likas faras what they feel like you should be doing it's kind of like oh, I've done this before they really do know what they're doing yeah which yes gives us control but also the client can kind of go oh okay okay just get here that's kind of what we always say just get here to the studio and and we'll take care of the rest and I think you're such a huge integral part of that being that second set of hands and that second voice of reason that helps them kind of kind of calm down talk to me a little about what your role is here at the studio when it in terms of not only what you do to work with me but also you know how you deal with baby and so forth and so on sure, so I think that safety obviously is first and foremost you're making sure that I'm their option times we've seen that the baby might have a little spasm, you know, our juror there they just exactly and it it definitely can catch you off guard and so just knowing that I'm there and ready for that especially because we have seen it a few different times where I kind of have to, you know, react really quickly to make sure that they're still safe and not going to fall off the being exactly back to where, you know, it could be a really scary unfortunate situation, you know? I know photographers that's happened tio so avoiding that I think it's the person for most but then just you know, the customer service part of it of making sure that they're feeling comfortable, you know, for having toe to take a break and mom's needing to feed, you know, making sure she's feeling good, making sure dad feeling good just you know, that other piece of the team that is making sure that we're kind of completing that whole package of what we try to do as soon as they come in it's not just about the pictures but the experience that they have a soon as they walk in the door and making sure that you know they're feeling comfortable asking us questions or, you know, leaving their kids in our hands, but also, if they're siblings, you know, I'm kind of there to help with that part of it because family images can be really challenging when you have a two year old sibling know that so I think that that's a big part of it too, you know, besides the newborn safety, but also oh, you know, while we're capturing those family shots, making sure that that two year old stays engaged and wrangled and is paying attention and isn't opposed, that you want them to be in because oftentimes they won't be a few seconds after you put some there, you're so good at it. And I think a lot of the reason for that is lauren has a lot of experience with kids learn a dancer, she does lyrical dancing, and she teaches dance, so little girls. So, you know, I found her partially through that and was one of the reasons I thought you were so well qualified because it takes a certain personality people deal with two year olds on a consistent basis. It it really does, it really does it is fun, we have a good time. What is? I know I'm putting you on the spot here, but what are some of the challenges you've had you think with customer service and dealing with? Clients, what frustrates you? What makes you go? You don't know what to do, what has challenged you, right? I think every so often we will get a family that comes in particularly yeah, mom, that is very opinionated and really wants tio control the session. And so, you know, she's kind of over our shoulder maybe saying, you know, can you use this color? I don't really like that color oh, I don't like hats, you know? And so that kind of put your yeah stresses me out a little bit because I'm like, oh, gosh, you know, like what I do are saying, let julian work your magic, but I think that could be a challenge because you do have to kind of dig deep and find that, you know, go backto what what are customer service is all about and just handling it the right way and still treating them very kindly and respectful ahs faras they have their opinion and kind of where they want to see the session going, but knowing, you know, kind of the best ways to react to that as faras maybe helping mitigate some of that for you as far as saying, oh, you know, we'll get to that in a second or, you know, kind of oh, trust me, it challenges meeting right now so I think that if there's any challenge that's probably the biggest line and thankfully it doesn't happen too often, but every so often we do or when they come in, I'm prepared, which unfortunately we've seen a few times where they haven't, you know, done their homework and read the instructions as faras the feeding schedule and sleeping schedule. And so the baby is just awake the whole time, and it can be a little bit challenging as faras, you know, taking longer for us over in the opposing side of things and wrapping side of things that it doesn't flow as smoothly as we know it can. And so I think that could be frustrating for the most part, I would say, you know, people people really do listen, and when they come in prepared, it seems to go by really quickly and I feel like that's easy for us to make it a positive environment and just, you know, really push that customer service with, um, what does it do for you when you know a client left receiving a good customer experience, like, personally feel good, yeah feels really good, I think, and it's, you know, makes from the time, you know, it's only been a year like you mentioned, but I from the beginning have just been really impressed with what you do and you're brandon and proud to be a part of that you know and I think that's what's important is that you know, when you are a part of something you want that level of excellence to continue and so I know that you know, I can just contribute to that and make sure that you know, we're continuing to have that positive reputation in the community of you know what you like oh it's just this well oiled machine and you know, we'll run into mom's later and the comm unity or run into people that know people that have gotten their photographs here in and they're like, you know, we hear such good things though that's great that you work for her, you know, such a great experience for people like people just rave about it, and I think that always, you know, leaves you with such a great proud feeling as well knowing that you're part of that experience and you're part of that team that has such such a strong reputation and I think you make such a good point that customer service is not just within these four walls it extends way beyond outside because everybody who experiences the customer relationship in here takes it outside the walls of the studio and they talk about it with their family and friends with their everybody who's outside and worse pretty small town I mean, bend is ninety thousand people and it's pretty much two degrees of separation everywhere you go and so it's going to come back, we have to provide a good customer experience because if not our businesses going toe bomb really, we're not goingto we're not going to be able to survive, and I think you bring up a great point that that what happens in these four walls is so important to word of mouth referral to building that reputation outside the community. So excellent point what? Um, taking taking jewel images out of it, taking our studio out of it just in general, in terms of business, what do you think? What is your definition of good customer service? My definition would be just people leaving feeling satisfying, feeling happy. I mean, that sounds really cliche, but leaving just kind of with that warm, fuzzy, like they just had a really great experience even though, you know, in our situation, it is they've brought, you know, they're extremely new baby to us, you know, and it can be really overwhelming period of time for them just in life, and so to kind of comfort them and give them that really special experience is important, but I think in any business, you know, some of the other jobs that I've worked in them stuff it it just is you know, wanting people to leave feeling really satisfied and really happy toa where there then are wanting teo to talk positively aboutyou and refer people to you and and to share you know it's like oh my gosh can you you know, let me tell you about this awesome photo session and I can't wait to get the pictures and I'll definitely send them to you and you love him you know, just kind of leaving without feeling toe where there then wanting toe spread it and come back exactly I mean way definitely want them tio repeat repeat is good right when I think that we sell you know, in this industry the business is we sell emotion you know, we're taking this small little baby our family, our child or high school senior whatever industry you happen to be in in in the photographic world and you're making a moment in their life that is already emotional as it is they're gonna associate that with the experience that they had here and so if say for example a young mom comes in with a seven day old baby and her experience is less than part which I hate to admit it has happened here stuff always happens you're there's gonna be mistakes there's going to be flaws the ball is going to get dropped on occasion we've been there done that and we always come back and go oh my god what were you thinking? You know that was a mess on our part and we kind of analyzing go okay next time we can't do that but when they if they do have a lesson stellar experience they're goingto think about that every time they see our product the images and so that's why I think it's so important to create that customer experience in a way that's that they can relate positive emotions to the images because it is a really amazing time in their life and when we can make those two synonymous with one another it's powerful don't you think I think so and I think especially when it comes teo like the newborn situation we have seen so many moms that come in that air I don't want my picture taken I don't you know I'm just so stressed out I wasn't even able to brush my three year old hair you know, before the pictures like are we really doing this right yeah or they have that deer in the headlights look where they're just kind of like oh my god, I can't believe I actually got out the door exactly like what am I doing here where my what day is it you know? But I think if we can exactly if we can turn that into a positive experience somewhere definitely doing something right because then they're leaving feeling relieved almost, you know, not only are they happy about their experience, but they're kind of, like relieved like, oh, you know, I don't really know what to expect, and I feel like that want really well, and I can't wait to see the final product, so if you had to sequentially order what you do for a customer as they come through the door in terms of that customer exp prince, how would you do it? Like, on a one, two, three? This is what I do first, this is what I do second, this is sure. So the first thing is, you know, as soon as we hear someone come through the door welcoming them, introducing myself oftentimes, you know, if you're not there already, you're coming down from your office to greet them, getting them set up, so the next thing is, you know, to get them set up, but making sure, you know, oftentimes they'll say, oh, I brought this or oh, do you need this in it? That whole thing, you know, just show up because we have everything covered don't you worry about anything? We'll take care of it let's, you know, get the baby undress, let's, you know, get him ready for his feeding meanwhile, you know, kind of just supporting you as faras. Do you need anything? How can I make you more comfortable? Are you thirsty? Are you hungry or did you not have a chance for breakfast? Here? We have, you know, whole refrigerator and and I'll full of snacks for you kind of thing, you know? Well, then you're getting ready for kind of that preliminary introduction that you like to do as far as getting to know their style and kind of their vision for the session, you know, making sure that once we start the session, especially for a while, you and I do as faras newborns go, but really, it would be relevant for any session that you're working on is really making sure that that person being photographed is safe, right? No matter what's around there's always going to be, you know, large objects, a lot of equipment, things of that nature. So, you know, I'm kind of there standing by making sure that nothing happens and that the environment is safe as possible on dh just kind of, you know, being that other person that they know if they have a question, they're not going to be bothering you, you know, you're kind of in your in your zone, you're the one that's taking the photographs and I don't want to bug you if they have a question or they're not sure about something, so I'm kind of that that other part of the team that they should hopefully feel comfortable with and can then, you know, ask questions or, you know, find out more information from if needed, which was really surprising aspect of of bringing you on because I never realized that clients some clients, not everyone, I'm generalizing for sure, but some clients are afraid to approach me. Oh, definitely because I'm like in creative zone, yeah, they don't want to interrupt, but they don't want interrupt and they immediately first thing go teo, you or belinda for questions, and I find that so fascinating. But what a nice fringe benefit that has been because it does allow me to be creative, while at the same time, it gives the customer that ability to just ask a question when they need teo. You know, a lot of photographers don't work with a team of people and as much as having a teen creates a great system in the studio it's hard when you're first starting out to find an assistant, so I want to kind of talk about a little about how I found you on that. It's not that hard to find someone and I think a lot of photographers think oh my gosh no I can't give people enough hours I'm not kind of you know they're not going to work for me because I can't pay them very much you know let's talk first I put out a craigslist ad I mean I really did and you put your resume into it even though you already have an amazing pretty much full time job which I found shocking tell me well and I actually saw you put something on facebook as well and so I think that's initially how I thought and then went to the actual listing but yeah, I think one of the one of the key words for me was flexible, you know? And that's what you had said is that it sibyl and so I remember kind of enquiring like how flexible is it? Because I did I had, you know, a thirty five hour week other job but was thinking that job is pretty flexible itself to where I could probably take on something else and this sounds like something I would really love to do and kind of have it be a fun part job you know, part time job but that's what it was more for you than anything it works the creative component I was the fun part about not necessarily that it was going to like make you a living helping me which it doesn't I'll be honest it's really a fun fun job for you right? A creative outlet and that was okay with you exactly and I think there's lots of people that are looking for that creative outlet you know, an opportunity to work with babies like we've talked about for you you know, for you and I you know, getting the opportunity to work with little kids because I love to do that you know, whether it be babies, they're family sessions or whatever we're working on but there's lots of people that have interests or you know are going to school so they might have some free time and are looking for some part time work you know, or maybe people that are just even willing to do it for free you know, that are just willing they really have interesting are wanting to learn and are interested in, you know, volunteering their time. It's um, point I don't think photographers really realized how much that's out there because we do it every day so we're so used to it we think it's kind of wasa to it to certain extent, but there are a lot about their who look att working at a photography studio wow, don't be such a cool job, I just want to learn how to do it all right for you for free or on a contract basis, which is how you and I worked with works out great because you work when when I work no more no lettuce right? And I think that's a really great system tohave a cz well so I mean finding someone it's not that hard you you and I found each other through craigslist and a facebook ad any other ideas for people and I mean stupid students what do you think I would think? Definitely students you know, especially areas where there are, you know, community college things of that nature I think that there's lots of people just starting out, you know, that might have a passion for photography and they're not quite settled in a job yet that might be looking for some extra work or, you know, people that are doing their own, you know, photography that are kind of new to it and might be interested I know that you had mentioned to me a few people applied for my position that you know, we're really just getting there foot in the door photography wise and we're kind of looking for the opportunity to learn so like right and people are comfortable with that that might be a great option as well, yeah, I I really want to reiterate that when you're finding an assistant it's okay to tell them which is what I told you that this position may start out pretty spares, but it's going to grow as I grow in a business. And this is what I can afford to do now. But my hope is that by bringing you on and meet take that risk, we're going to grow and I'll be able to bring you on more and more and more so let's, do it on a trial basis, see how it goes. And then, you know, we'll check in in three months, and if we still like each other, we work well, then great. Well, we'll keep at it. I think giving that caveat right up front to whoever you're going to hire is a really valuable thing. So big picture wise customer service. I know you love to take care of our clients. That so it's a really big joy for you. What? Why is doing a good job in that area? Such a valuable thing to your position, I think because it's it's really just all about that team environment that we have here and it's just it's important that as soon as they walk in the door there feeling like they're part of the family so to speak I mean, it sounds really cheesy, but I like that that's what it is you know, and that's what we want is just them tohave a really positive experience on dh it could be you know, I talked a lot about new morn shoots just cause that's primarily what I help you with, you know, I don't always help you with some of the other family shoots and things that you're not needing as much of, you know, really safety hands on assistant for but no matter what you know session they're coming for I really want them to come in and feel good as soon as they walk through the door and just know that they're being taken care of and that they're gonna have amazing and results and that when they leave here they're just they're feeling really good and really excited about their session and they can't wait to see their pictures it's rewarding, isn't it? Yeah, you make a connection with people you know, it's always fun for me to just when I get to see people when they do come back, you know, I'm not always here for their cell sessions, but occasionally I'm here working on some other stuff and I get to see them or I see them around town and it's really fun to be able to, you know, visit with him again and you do it's in the short period of time they might only be here for a few hours that I'm interacting with them. But you do you establish that relationship and it's really it's neat to kind of have that bond with people and get to be a part of their experience, you know, at such an important time in their life. Well, my dear, thank you so much for talking to us. Your perspective is definitely an awesome one, I think it's so important to hear it from others people so thanks she's she's rocking sauce right here, landis girl so thanks for joining us. The next person I really, really, really want you to meet. Who's just instrumental to the studio here is blended to board. Belinda has been with me for four years and I'm going to tell you a little bit of the story because it is kind of a fun one let's see it's been since team was born my son, right? It was four years ago last week. It was four years ago last week wasn't it so well? I started this place six years ago, so for two years I was in this whole building by myself did not have help at all, and I was I got pregnant and when I had my baby I knew I needed some help because there was no way that I could work and have a son at the same time so initially I found you through care dot com right as a nanny she came came on board here as my nanny really to take care of my son and you would bring dean here to the studio and he would play while I worked pretty much and she kind of kept him out of my hair and really only given to me when you need to be good for it much and so but then you started taking on duty's here right yep as says schedule regulated and he was sleeping longer than you started teaching me stuff all kind of things photoshopped I'm designed everything and she really started just kind of digging in with both hands after really not having any experience at all she's scrapbook right scrapbook yeah but nothing digital yeah that writes just all paper and yeah so when you started working and I was like the first time you've ever done digital correct yeah and I'd use it walk him tablets it's always a learning curve isn't it? You're so cute I remember that you're like how do you do things like throw the mouse away throw it away so anyway so slowly over time she just started doing more and more tasks and taking over more and more things and then you left to have your own baby for a year or so and just recently about a year and half ago came back and what I really kind of want you guys to get out of this is how much a really qualified and smart and bright person wants to learn and can learn because you didn't even talk to clients so you didn't do any communication nothing I remember your first client inquiry phone call yes, I don't know it's probably for the better you were shaking in your boots you were so nervous I still don't like it but you're really good at it now there's always part of our job we don't like your sister anyway well, I wanted to talk to guys about talked to belinda with you guys because she's such an instrumental position now I would say nowadays she's just moved up to full time for me and you really run this place I mean that's what it comes down to right she's too she's away to humble belinda is enormously talented in handling pretty much everything in the management and systems part of the business when it comes to like the logical side the scheduling, etcetera, etcetera but that's so important to customer service too, and I know we've been kind of chatting here a little bit, but I wanted to relate your position to what it means as being a good customer service representative so first of all, what do you think customer service means when it comes to your job to my job? Yeah um well I think it really can be summed up as making the client feel special in the sense of not I don't let any of the balls drop you know, obviously they know they're not our only client and the entire studio but I want them to feel like they're our only client in this studio tonight I make it a point to, you know, use their names remember you know, little tidbits they tell us about their family or their birth story or whatever it is and to bring it up when they're here said that they know they're a person there not just a name on our list exactly and you should this girl has like a memory she can remember like she looks at one of the picture of the babies and goes oh yeah that's austin or oh yeah that's thomas oh yeah, he was born on december twenty eight and I don't know how you keep all that in there but I don't know for some reason it just sticks which is so amazing but how does someone who does not have your memory do that remember that I mean is it just a matter of note taking and checking back to it yeah yeah well yeah, I guess in some ways that I might have to think fellow because I do have the memories I don't it's not a conscious thing for me but I mean we definitely take notes we have you know, our client work floorboard that we have a slot on to write that information so I always try you know when we get the inquiry email or we get their questionnaire or we get whatever I you know I always go to a localized place we a studio cloud to keep all those notes so it's all in one spot on I'm constantly up stating that so that we have that information readily available in one spot and not having toe exactly have you know, little post its everywhere whatever get lost or forget to write a name on it and just have burst at sitting there not know they belong teo that's you know, just tryingto keep on it on that sense. Yeah. So how do you feel that makes a difference in customer service? Well, I mean, if you think about it for myself I would think if someone if I walked into someone's place of business and they I knew my name they knew my child's name oh he's eight days old today, right? He was born on such and such date that makes you feel special and that makes you feel, you know, you're not just in and out that it's really about the whole experience and building a relationship with them that we're not just here to push a button and give you printed pieces or a disk or whatever you know we're here tio we're sharing this really precious time in your life with your family and we are honored to be part of that and I think that those little details play into that and help them feel comfortable with us and feel special being here and create a well rounded it they add up in this and so when a client calls you know cause you're the one who picks up the phone nowadays what is your first instinct? What do you do right off the bat to make that customer experience kickoff? Well, I try to make a connection first, you know, usually when clients call they're always wanting to know about packages on pricing and I kind of ignored that mask but in a nicely obviously but I try and like, invest in in their story first firsthand are they still pregnant? When are they dio or did they deliver already? What did they have if they you know so we know we're having a girl so I can really excite to girls all like sure seem like I have two girls two they're so fun you know, I love playing, you know with them or, you know, my three year olds just not getting into dolls and barbies and all that or if they have a boy say, you know, I mean and it's true, I don't make it up. I really tried to be truthful. They they have a boy, you know, I always I and I always say this because it's true. Oh, I always wanted a boy because my husband's, the last in his family and if we don't have a boy there's no more of our last name, and we really wanted that, and so I can connect with, um, with that and, you know, show that it's martin make that connection with them through that sense and that's usually the first the first way ago or if they're still pregnant talking about like I remember, like, are you at that point where you're just ready to be done? Like, how is pregnancy been for you? Like, I remember when I was pregnant with my girls, I was like, you know what, bill? They won't have any problems if they were bored at this point, they could just yeah, so am I just making that connection and making them feel comfortable that however it is that they're feeling is normal and it's, okay? To feel that way and that just a little bit of investment goes a long way in a lot of times after kind of sharing those anecdotes you can really hear a tone of change in their voice like okay, these were people that I'm calling and I could just like talk to them and yeah okay, yeah, I was going to say what do you what happens when you get that connection what do you feel? What do you sense and when do you go to the next step and what is that next step in the phone call sure what I think I mean obviously it depends on the person and their personality is some people just aren't what w soft people and they're like, okay, what are you talking about? But more often than not, you know, they you know they open up even more and share like, oh, you have a toddler to okay, that makes me feel so much better that I'll be okay when number two comes. I've had a client just in the last month say that like, oh my gosh, that makes me feel so better to hear you talk about your family because that means like I can do this, you know, and yeah and our business, especially in photography, whether it's newborns or family's weddings especially that's, another milestone occasion people's lives that they're not by they're not alone you know that you're in this with them and you're not just, you know, just checking off the list exactly exactly. So when do you decide to kind of go to the next point of more logical practical details of the session and then book, then booking, etcetera? Sure. Well, pretty much right after that, you know, we kind of it depends on the conversation that person, you know, we might go back and forth on the details and then, you know, I try and take back control of the conversation so it doesn't go too far down that rabbit trail you say, okay, so sorry about that, you know, yeah, side note or whatever let's talk aboutyour session because it is all about you, you know, just around to be about them and talk about either they're due day and are the availability and or advantages of booking early or, you know, if the baby's already born talking, okay? And you know what? The timing and logistics boy girl and what our schedule like, you always ask them, which I just love so much, and I, of course have adopted that from you, too, is you you kind of get a feel for what they want out of the session, like what their goals are, and I think you do that for us because you want to know what they're going to buy what you want to make sure it's going to be a qualified client, right? But at the same time I think it does a lot for them in terms of customer service can you explain that a little bit sure so it kind of depends on the floor, but that is one of the first things that we try to ask because we want to kind of feel out you know, it's not everyone's going to be your your perfect client and so we try to kind of feel that out before we invest too much what sounds kind of harsh and businesslike but it's a delicate balance right? Our relationship in business so I think I think finding out from them you know, I try and do availability first so that I'm not like wasting my time, so to speak is mars like if we're you know, if baby's already six weeks old, you know I don't typically do a session at that point, so try to steer them maybe towards baby plan instead or if they're really you know, insistent on it than we are willing to work with clients obviously but you know, feel that out first and then asking them, you know, well, what do you want to do with the images? Because our package is really kind of are based on that goal in mind and we like you to keep in mind you know are you wanting tow walk by them every day are you wanting to flip through them in an album you know what are you hoping to get out of this experience but what do you think that does for them when you're asked I mean I always liken it to like it makes them feel like they're part of the the problem sure yeah it makes them feel like they have control yeah it's like it's like what's the word I'm looking for like we want to have ultimate control but we're like giving them little babies like this suit I make them think that they're in the illusion of control totally totally and I think for a lot of families especially with getting pictures taken is that a lot of people are self conscious regardless of of the occasion for getting the images done you know a lot of people are self conscious and so I think giving them those little pieces of control make them feel like they're going to love it in the end yeah say yes yes and they know that like you are willing to work with them to make the best the best product final product yes yes and that will match their home and look good and like it's it's truly like work there commissioning us to produce something for them and when you do what you do so well, which is kind of talked them through that process and asking them questions about what their goals are with the envision for the session, with their hopes and dreams are which I know you do so well that I think makes them feel like, oh my gosh, this they aren't just going to shoot whatever they want, they're going to do it according to my tastes and my needs, while still infusing their art, which is essentially, you know, why they initially wanted hires the beginning, and they look at you working like it, you know, I think that's with any photographer for that's the case, but one of the things that you're you're so good as not only that phone conversation, but also just keeping up with communication, keeping up with whether it's email whether it's phone call, whether it's, person face to face emails important, but I love that you don't do that first, like that's, not your first resort, why is that? Well, I think that it's important to make the one on one contact with them, you know, email. Well, first, all written communication in general can be really misconstrued, especially when you don't know people you don't know, their tone of voice, you don't know how they're saying it and being able to talk to them you know majority of our pre consul tour over the phone we do have some clients that come in but majority of them is on the phone and being able to hear the tone of voice in the inflection and just the comfort that comes from knowing someone's tone of voice and that we're not just like shoving information down their throat you know it just layers on that more and more comfort each little piece you know build that trust in that relationship and then on top of that the client communication is almost like the official part yeah, you know right then it's like oh yeah by the way wear some stuff here's some stuff you need to know very important but you need to know know exactly and then when the client does actually come through the door for the session even though you don't necessarily you fill in for lauren and help her went help me on sessions when she's not here but you still every single time come downstairs why? Well because I want to see their video but in terms of customer service I think it's just pretty in the face with the name you know, because I am the one typically that talked them on the phone and that's giving them all of you know, sending them emails are entering questions or or sending them notifications or whatever it happens to be you know that there's a person behind that that it's not just a computer or it's, not just a you know, an automated thing that it's ah, you know someone who cares about loan that cares. Yeah. It's, huge and it's. So nice. And your presence is always so, so warm downstairs. I love it, and then you go back upstairs. But and I know that a lot of people think that someone like belinda, who handles all these logistics and scheduling and calendars and client workflow, anyone? Yeah, she's on the phone with potential customers and our clients. And you may not think that that's a really high value customer service thing, but all those details add up to to experience for the client, making sure that all those teas across and I's are dotted is so critical to them. Ultimately having a good experience because you make sure nothing gets dropped, nothing falls through the cracks. And there we should talk about some of the times that you have saved my booty on stuff when you're like julia, have you done this? Yeah. Oh, I know. I only welcome ali. So, you know, you're making sure everything's handled on that back end, which is so huge, why do you think, um, why do you think customers respond I know they they all love you I mean you're the person that they want to talk to you when they come out it's really? The case everybody was talking about belinda oh she's upstairs they start climbing up the stairs to go say hi to her I'm like oh, my chopped liver they love you how do you think that isthe I think I know the answer but I want to hear it from you uh um that's a hard question to that answer without feeling conceded I you could never I think I feel like I'm kind of repeating myself but I just think it's because they feel special like they im the one because I am a person behind all of those communication methods it makes them feel special than actual person is taking the time to do that. You know, when they call here a person answers the phone it's not an automated system itself divorce minutes yeah, yeah, unless we're in a session or busier with everybody yeah, and they think they want to put they want to put the face to the name just as much as I want to put the face to the name with them anyone her baby and I want I make them and it's just a layered because obviously you have a comfort factor in your role in customer service and lauren has talked about her, you know roll in customers were making them feel comfortable and trustworthy and all those things and so it's just if all of us are doing all those things that balls don't get dropped and things don't slip through the cracks and, you know, making sure they were offered drinks or snacks or making it for that a lot of times still it'll get offered and oh no it's okay? And then I'm like the third person and it sounds like it might be annoying, but then they're like actually had coffee really? Those sound good so you know, then and then I have the time during that session because I'm not a sustainer I'm not talking about the colors of their home or I'm not turning on, you know, other tests that you and lauren are doing that I have the ability to do those little details for them that just puts it that extra step, you know, like, you don't even have to get it yourself. Yeah, so it's okay for you? Yeah, you know and and on a personal note, because I didn't have the best postpartum period, you know, really specifically really continue weren't work, huh? I love talking to the moms because I want them to know they're not alone and the dads like it's hard like it's so amazing and there's so much love that it's like we can't even take the time to try and describe it, but there's ah, hard factor to it, too, especially if moms are suffering with depression, you know, post birth and whatnot and, you know, you never both shared before that we've both had that, and so I want them to know that it's okay to feel that way, and it doesn't mean you don't love your baby. Yeah, yeah, and that is huge for the trust that they haven't had the comfort factor, especially if they're doing family images. I mean, you can just see them like, okay, it's going to be okay? Like, they're taking care of my baby and it's like this too shall pass and it's going to be okay, and they've been there done that, and they've they've been there, they know exactly how I'm feeling. Yeah, yeah, and I also think that having the three of us together kind of makes this unified force in customer service, you know, it's, like it's, so permeates everything that it's almost like I know that when I know you know this too, but I know that when they walk out the door, they're going to like wow, that was great. We have to do anything you know that was like that wasn't so bad was it so hard that was a lot of you I thought it was gonna be those are the kind of comments I think that we all want especially knowing that having any boring baby and getting outside to a doctor's appointment let alone to a portrait session is a hard thing to dio so when the client walks out the door after the sale session your role is really important to me you know that's when the money's come in we have their dollars we've placed their order and but there's so much follow up that goes into that it's not we don't drop the ball just there and I think that's a really important component of customer service that you do really well too can you talk about kind of how you do that and what your steps are too you know follow up from when the order comes in it's ready to go for them through when the follow up period occurs. Sure so I try to do same day notification you know I'm here more than lauren is ours wise and so typically I'm here when she packages stuff and so when she comes up and right she'll write on the board that she packaged it I almost immediately depending on what I'm doing will go on and send a notification that there package is ready and that and that first notification is through email even though you know we have talked about that that's you know not our go to but at that point we haven't established relationship with them and we have to let them know you know so watch out for that and you know ideally they write back and they come you know within a few days there order because that always happens right way order so you must be so if there's if they aren't as timely and picking it up then you know, I um I like to put on the calendar like when certain time has gone by so try not to let two weeks go by without having some form of communication with them unless it's been you know if it gets carried away I don't want to bug them yet too much you know, I kind of let them know that that back and okay, you know, I've tried to contact you a few times and we have her back and I don't want to bug you so I just you know, if you don't hear the message still here yeah kind of but in the initial phases you know I will make a phone call if I don't hear back from their email I will then call them I don't just keep emailing hoping that they get it because it could be lost in cyber world or in their junk box or whatever you know if it's anything like us, we get thousands of emails all the time and it could easily get lost in there so I definitely try and make a phone call and just let them know that it's here and that they can come pick it up and then when they do come to pick you up you're always the one who comes down and like it's about baby and how are they doing and let's look at their product if they want before they go out the door but then after that it's really important? I know we're not super consistent about about this, but we are um we loved you especially are so good at writing thank you notes and you've made it kind of an art form for a new photographer who hasn't quite incorporated that into their customer service system. How would you recommend going about getting a system in place for following up after the order's been delivered? Because even though the order's gone and the customer's gone says they're still your customer, how do you how do you start out implementing something like that in your business? Well, I use aikau personally, I just like having everything in one spot versus having various lists and schedules and everything so when after they deliver I well put if they didn't enroll for baby plan um you know, then I will put a mark on our calendar when baby is six months old and uh send a little postcard to them as just like a not like a sales pitch you know but just checking in with them I mean like a soft sales pitch like checking out them like all your babies have three year old like things you know are starting to turn around they're starting this sleep more like so great how you know are they sitting up that's so exciting and thinking of yeah yeah and I always always always every card that I write right so it doesn't even have to be long you know? I mean we're talking little cards it's not like you're writing a letter to them you know and just something specific from their session are using the baby's name in writing it out so it doesn't feel like canned yeah like a canned message that I just copied from piece paper you know? So you know, it's a lot of our kinds are building new homes, you know? So oh has the house building going like we can't wait to see your images on the wall like be sure to send us a picture when you get him hung or you know, so we remember you know, rosa was having issues with feeding we hope that that's like, you know, working out and getting better or if we were giving them tips you know dean was on special formula, so we've given that tip toe a lot of parents, you know, with babies with theory issues and, you know, just checking in with him about those little personal things and not necessarily making it about come in for another session, yeah, you know, just as a of really sweet, like, we're still thinking of you even though you have everything that you thought you were going to get from us and that does nothing but so what defined the relationship? I don't never hear back from them, I don't even know if they get them or not. I was assuming they do because we get their address from them. But, you know, like it's not like I don't ask them to respond, I don't, you know, there's, no action necessary from them, but it just well, I know that it does help because they stay they may not come back for that six month session or do the baby plan, but the following year they'll come back for that they come back to the two years session or the family session or whatever, so those kind of little details do really home, so just, um, actionable things that you can do to put that in place really? I mean, it's really simple, I usually wait about two weeks after they pick up just to give them some time you know, after before I send them out just I mean, you don't even have to order special let's just go to your stationery store or wal mart er where have think of thank you cards or just buy one depending on what your client load this like? You know, some things that come in a box of what ten or so and just do it I mean, it really doesn't mean that's probably one of the easiest systems you khun implement into your studio that if you're not already doing it, that makes such a difference that makes such a huge impact has having that little bit of personal ending makes them feel like oh my gosh, those people really are cool yeah, we do care I don't know if we're cool but we care about this but I think que linda you're awesome. Thank you so much. Is there anything else that I mean you've come into this situation just starting out understanding customer service so you really understand what it's like to come from the beginning? You know, to start a system of customer service from the start? What can you pinpoint that is important for business owners to really hone in on it when it comes to creating a system and customer service? Sure well, I think the first thing to do is write everything down because it's not necessarily going to come naturally to everyone and that's what I had to do when I first started, when I first started inquiry things I had to write out a script, so write out a script of what ideally you want to say, you know, it's not necessary, you know every client's going to be different, so think about those different steps like like I mentioned are they still pregnant and have a due date? Or did they deliver already? You're gonna have separate things to say based on how your client answers those things? Yeah, so write it out to help you follow and not miss anything on the important points that you need to bring up that you need to make sure and touch don't forget if they're special instructions you want to give if there's certain colors you don't like working with or whatever it is right it out so that you know that you have hit everything, then I have some kind, you know, for your system as faras after they booked you know I have a client workflow board, whether it's a big huge blown up one or if it's just an eight and a half by eleven that you keep track of where in the process of your studio is your client and every new client gets added to that list and you can start checking stuff off then I would say um you know if you used a software you know have inputted into the software so that it's localized elektronik version of it yeah I'm totally and that I'm totally that kind of mindset that I like having like analog and digital versions things yeah so I am that work floor floorboard is that saved us more than any person has oh yeah cause I stand I probably spend two hours of my week standing in front of nothing now all consecutive already you know added up just making sure ok did we you know is this person taking care of do we do that test do we do this test so having that has been valuable for us that I think personally that would be a huge thing for someone to have and like us that whether it's on the wall or just a piece of paper it doesn't huge yeah and then as faras the session goes I keep I mean that's kind of more of your realm but having a system for your sessions write it out it's okay toe refer to stuff you know, if you have questions that you wanna ask clients like if I come down and greet them and I want to make sure I know baby's name make a little like cheat sheet for yourself that you fill out before your client gets there that's okay baby's name birthdate parents names are there other siblings or what not, you know, a huge just teo or just look at their file or or whatever to remind yourself of that, you know, packaging, you know, you want to make sure that you're referring to their order form so that you're not notifying them before all of their order is in, because I did that once e I guess that's kind of a good thing to bring up, actually, because systems are ever evolving, you know, just because you have a successful business and your clients are happy doesn't mean your systems or perfect, they're always meaning, you know, in that a relatively new thing that I started doing was checking their ordering form to make sure ok before e email this person, tell them to come pick up, do we have all the pieces? Because things you know, if they're ordering a simple print that's goingto maybe come in faster than an album, especially if it's a custom album and so make be sure that they're not having to be inconvenient to come more than once is he huge on dh then doing the thank you cards, which are dimensions super easy tio implement, you know, after your client leaves when they deliver their order, especially if you're, um one person shop put on your calendar two weeks out you know that's the first thing you do after you give your client there order is you go to your calendar whether it's on your phone your tablet your computer your laptop and you put in send smith family thank you yeah yeah and then just go get him and do it yeah I think that's the hardest part is just sitting down doing it it really is I say that all the time it's not hard you just have to do it yeah belinda thank you so much he was always such a awesome wonderful person have around here you know I adore you so much it's such a good addition to our team and you know so much about customer service I think it's valuable information for for everyone else thereto have so thanks so much for joining of course, thanks for having me. So I hope these latest interviews really kind of helped you see a different perspective on how customer service can be an amazing part of your business. Customer service really should be etched into your business core values especially for us as a service industry we are artists and we're providing that service to our clients and half of that is that customer relationship and that experience that we provide them so remember just a few tips to finally to wrap up what we've learned here use verbal and body language that encourages the client to connect with you train others, especially if you have employees to be mindful of your brand and how important customer services to it. Customer service means good phone, email and in person care. It's. Kind of. We've got it control situation. Like we've got it handled, you'll be okay. And, of course, going above and beyond, with little surprises here and there that make them really connect with you on a personal level.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Studio Systems Resource Guide
Interview: Social Media Guru Sarah Daily
Studio Systems Workbook and Homework Guide
Jewel Images: Sample Client Survey

Ratings and Reviews


I look at this course as a library of amazing and valuable content. Everything that any photographer ever needs to run their business and make it successful and profitable can find all in one place, this course. I always felt inspired by Julia's amazing business skills, she is one of the best in this industry. I have taken all of her previous classes before and never felt disappointed. Instead, I would feel more confident, educated, empowered and inspired. Every segment is packed with so much information and it feels overwhelming at first, but the workbook that this course comes with, gives you sanity and helps you to work through it. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone. You should decide if you want to spend 10 years to get all this knowledge that this course already has, or just spend $199 to get it all at once and not waste anymore time experimenting!? Your choice.

a Creativelive Student

We're only 1wk into this 5wk bootcamp and I have already gained so much valuable information {already worth every cent}. Julia shares so much about how to run a business, and do it in a way that's successful, profitable and enjoyable. Have already started working on a few new systems to help run my business better, and my customer service has already improved. Now to just spruce up my home studio to make it more visually appealing and comfortable for my clients :) Thank you so much Julia!


I am so incredibly happy to have taken the plunge this evening, as I bought this course! Today watching the course a lightbulb went off and I knew I had to have it! This is worth every cent, and I am so very excited to watch the rest and implement these teachings into my business. Its time to take charge and take my business back! I am so amazed after standing back and looking at my business from a distance, of how much i have been giving away. Not only of not only my pricing but myself. I have compromised for clients that aren't right for me. This is giving me the confidence and knowledge to say no, in a nice way, and to focus on the business I really WANT! Thank you Julia, you are an inspiration! An amazing women with impeccable business sense!

Student Work