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Read Merry’s blog for a glimse of stunning recent wedding and portrait work, tips and tricks for brides, a little behind the scenes info from Merry Ohler, who is the best wedding photographer in Kansas City, along with helpful information for the up and coming photographer can all be found here.

Bringing Up Business: 10 Simple Ways to Enhance Your Customer Experience

10 Simple Ways to Enhance Your Customer Experience

Do you find yourself struggling to get referrals, or find that your customers are not returning time and again? Maybe you’re delivering fantastic product in a timely fashion, but you are struggling to connect with your ideal customer. Maybe you are just starting out and find yourself coming up empty on leads, or you find that your circle of influence is just too small.

Running your own business is HARD work, friend! Any small business owner will tell you the two most challenging aspects of running, maintaining and growing their business are marketing and customer service. When you are a solopreneur, you don’t typically have access to an entire team of employees to handle emails, social media, inquiries, etc….unless you’ve reached the point when you are ready to hire an assistant, and even then, you still have to know where to start.

With that in mind, I compiled the list I wish I had been given when I first started my business. Follow these 10 Simple Ways to Enhance Your Customer Experience, and watch your customer satisfaction and referrals transform into something worth talking about.

1. Chart your customer touch points.

Sit down and make a thorough list of every customer touch point from start to finish.

Track each customer interaction flow from beginning to end. Start with the first advertisement or referral, social media post, etc., and track all the way through first inquiry, through the sale/booking, and even the post sale follow up. Make sure all your language is on brand, specific and necessary. Go through your email templates with a machete, and make sure every word serves a purpose.

Think about this process from a brand new customer’s perspective. Think about what questions they might have during the process, and go ahead and find a way to answer those in the natural flow of communication.

In my business, the majority of my customers come through my website, after searching terms like “wedding photographer Kansas City” or “Kansas City event photographer.” The first point of contact is my website, followed by use of my web form to contact me. Next, they receive an email response from me, followed by a phone call. From there, I schedule their in-person, FaceTime or Skype consultation and send their quote, contract and invoice. It is vital that my brand remain consistent through every one of those touch points, in order to build brand trust (which is equivalent to trust in me, since I am my brand) and to continue the conversation.

2. Streamline your emails.

Do you ever feel like you are typing the same information to send to your customers - over and over again? This is likely because you are!

Make a list of frequently asked questions, then create an easily edited master document in Google Docs or something similar. Include each question, then type out your complete response in paragraph form just below it. By having the answers to your most commonly asked questions close at hand, you will be able to quickly copy and paste into the body of your email, which will save you precious minutes and guarantee you are giving consistent information to all customers.

Here’s a little SEO advice freebie: create a FAQ page on your website and put these questions and answers there, also!

3. Add personal touches to each interaction.

No matter what you do or sell, you are your brand. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.

How are you translating what makes you unique (that’s YOU) into your brand and copy? What personal touches do you add that set you apart from everyone else who does what you do? Really think about what and how you can add a personal touch to each interaction. What can you do that is true to who you are and will make you memorable?

When I interact with customers, I work to share memories and tell stories with my words and pictures I share. This makes sense for me because I am a storytelling photographer. In Kansas City, there are hundreds of photographers, and if I want to stand out from the sea of same and find “my” people, I must always be conscious of how I am different - and then embrace and share that uniqueness in every facet of my customer interaction.

4. Get to know your customers.

If you’re anything like me, your inbox is probably flooded with “How’d we do?” emails from the big brands.

Friend, there’s a reason they want your input: it helps them streamline their customer experience! Small business owners should take a cue from the big dogs on this and jump in to the feedback game! If you haven’t already, sit down and make an avatar or profile of your ideal customer. Brainstorm who they are, their age, their occupation, where they live, their income, where they shop, eat, work, live, what matters to them, what their goals are… Spend some serious time on this and really round it out! The more you know about your ideal customer, the better you will be able to serve them!

Next, ask your customer to share a little about who they are! There are so many simple ways to do this.

  • Create a Facebook post for your business page that shares a little of your business origin story, and include a call to action asking your customers to share a memory or experience that ties in with what you shared.

  • Share a photo on Instagram of you and your family and tell your followers something you are excited about in the coming months, then ask what upcoming plans they are excited about.

  • If you aren’t sure where to start, try a simple Instagram Story with option for them to reply or answer a question.

It may feel awkward at first, but you need to know who you are serving if you are going to serve them well, and the more you begin to incorporate this process into your workflow, the more natural it will become!

5. Connect with your customers on a personal level.

Create a digital customer “intake form” or customer information sheet for every new customer.

Include questions about their favorite hobbies, past times, stores, restaurants and movie theater chains. Ask them for their birthday or birth month, anniversary, children’s birth months, etc. Ask for their go-to Starbucks order, their favorite date night, most often quoted movie or TV show, and current Netflix binge.

Once you have their birthday or month and anniversary, send them a birthday card and anniversary card in the mail! You can go and pick one out at the Hallmark store, or you can save a little time and money and do what I do - use a service like Send Out Cards to make and send personalized cards. (Full disclosure - I am an affiliate, and with good reason!}

I use this service to send birthday, anniversary, holiday cards, and any other kind of sentiment that comes up in natural conversation. I personally designed a branded card back, and I love that for one flat monthly rate, I can create and send unlimited heartfelt greeting cards - postage included! I even added by brand fonts to my profile so this touchpoint is seamless with the rest of my brand.

The Send Out Cards app is simple to use and allows me to make a card in just a few seconds and send it. Try it out - send a personalized greeting card on me right now! Send one to a friend - or yourself, so you can see how simple it works and how great the greeting cards look!

6. Define your brand - and stick to it.

If you haven’t spent any time defining your brand, now’s the time.

Think about how you want to be perceived by your customers. Is your brand voice funny? Sarcastic? Slightly nerdy? Your website, social media and correspondence copy should always be reinforcing your brand voice. Figure out what sets you apart and what you are naturally known for, then find a way to incorporate that into every customer interaction.

For example, I’m known as a storytelling wedding photographer. Kansas City locals would recognize my brand in my advertisements and copy because I consistently reinforce my brand voice by referencing some of my favorite things (The Office, Parks and Rec, coffee and tacos) and I am unapologetic about my faith, love for family and heart for intention and authenticity.

7. Send a monthly email newsletter.

Take time to talk to your customers!

A monthly email newsletter can seem like a daunting task, so I recommend to break it down into bite sized portions. Perhaps you struggle with knowing what to say or how to say it. The best way to do this is to simply pretend like you are writing a letter to an old friend. Fill your customers in on what is happening in your business.

First, highlight a few recent jobs or special projects. Next, share a personal (but not too personal) tidbit, along with something or a few things you are looking forward to in the coming months. This is also a great space to share a quote or review from a recent customer. Finally, make sure to add a few available services that link through to your website.

The goal of your newsletter is to connect, educate or inform and draw into conversation. Be ruthless in cutting unnecessary words or phrases, and make sure that every word and sentence is working toward your goal.

8. Ask for referrals.

Tell your customers what services you offer or which products you sell, and ask them to send friends and family your way!

This is such a simple step, but often we feel awkward about asking for business - and we shouldn’t! Think about offering a referral gift or discount. Don’t be afraid to tell your customers that you appreciate them and covet their referrals. This doesn’t have to be super complicated!

When I deliver galleries to my customers, I always make sure to ask for referrals. For example, when I deliver a wedding gallery to my wedding couples, my email always includes a reminder that in addition to wedding photography in Kansas City, I also specialize in motherhood photography, family photography, event photography and senior photography. I flat out remind my customers that the best compliment I could ever hope to receive is their glowing review and personal referral to friends and family. This works well for me, because wedding customers may not think about the fact that I also offer other types of photography. By stating it at the time of delivery, the most recent contact with me reminds them and asks them to send friends and family to me.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Did I mention communication? Seriously. In order to manage expectations, it is absolutely vital to communicate with your customers.

Go back to your list of FAQ’s from step two, and figure out how to build the answers to those questions into your communication flow before your customer would typically ask the question. This may seem like a bit much, but by answering the next logical question before your customer has the opportunity to think of it, you are actually establishing yourself as the expert and creating brand trust because your customer will know exactly what to expect and how to expect it!

10. Provide added value.

Make your value obvious, and then add more.

This sounds a little over the top, but the bottom line is that people dig a good deal. If you were searching for a family photographer in Kansas City, and you were presented with three nearly identical options, how would you choose the best photographer for you? Imagine that each photographer had a fairly similar style, the price point was identical and you did not have a referral to any one of the three. The only difference that you can find is that one photographer includes free coffee at her consultations. Which photographer do you think you would naturally choose? You guessed it. 9 times out of 10, we will choose the business which offers us additional value.

There you have it! I think you’re ready to knock customer experience out of the park! Tell me in the comments below: what other ways do you enhance your customer experience?

All the love,