Key to growing your business—Surprise your Customer

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 50, ƒ/4, 1/160—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/128 Power

How to make emotional connections

There are brands like Apple, Starbucks, Ritz Hotels and others you can think of that have some of the most loyal customers. These are what we call Raving Fans.

As Ken Blanchard wrote in his book, Raving Fans, a raving fan is “a customer who is so devoted to your products and services that they wouldn’t dream of taking their business elsewhere and will sing from the rooftops about just how good you are.”

So how do you get these loyal fans of your brand?

Ken Blanchard says to give the customers what they are asking for, and then give them 1% more. That 1% more is what I call the surprise.

Knowing what customers are asking for is the key ingredient. However, Steve Jobs did more than give customers what they were asking for, Apple anticipated needs that customers didn’t even know they had until they saw the Apple product.

Probably the most famous example of total customer service empowerment is the carte blanche monetary discretion The Ritz-Carlton have given to staff members for decades: $2,000 per employee per customer, to be used to solve any customer complaint in the manner the employee felt was appropriate.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/1.8, 1/200—off-camera flash using the Neewer TT850 flash & Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger with flash at 1/128 Power

I don’t have $2,000 to spare

There are more ways to give great customer service and surprises than with money.

Quick & Inexpensive Gestures

  • Listen and Remember—You have to really care about your customers to pull this off. This is where you listen for not just what they need but what is going on in their life. How you remember is the next time just asking them about the family member they told you about.
  • Thank You Note—Just a simple hand written thank you note goes a long way.
  • Mix Thank You Note & Remembering—Maybe the customer said something that made your day. Tell them about how that thought stuck with you and made your day.
  • Piece of Candy—I had a defective part from MagMod. I wrote to them and they sent me a new one and also just a small fun size bag of M&Ms. That was a great surprise. Cost very little but I have never had a company do anything like it before.
  • Operational Excellence—You cannot do any surprises if you product isn’t top notch. While your competition is doing everything to keep costs down, sometimes you need to spend a little more and keep that quality. One thing I notice my work stands out from many is skin tones. Too many people shoot on Auto White balance but I work hard to dial in the white balance to be very precise.
  • Quick Turn Around—When all your competition is always on a two week delivery, just turn your product delivery time faster. The one industry I think this is terrible is weddings. That is because many of those wedding shooters have other jobs. I know many shooters who are booked up because they deliver great images quickly.
  • Small Gift—You can remember their birthday or at a holiday just send a card, gift card or small gift just to let them know you are thinking of them. This works best if it is later after the job is complete and near a significant moment for the customer.
  • Celebrate their accomplishments—Keep in touch with your customers. If they like your facebook page you can see their posts. If something great happened in their life, comment on their post, give them a phone call or send a card. 
Biggest Surprise
How you talk about your competition and your colleagues can surprise your customer in one of two ways—Positive or Negative.

James 3:16-18 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
16 Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things. 17 But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. 18 When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.

You may have heard if you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all. That is great advice. I challenge you to also say something nice about your competition when you can think of nothing but something positive to say.

I often have clients call me and I am booked. I tell them I can find someone for them or I tell them let me send you a couple of names and links to their websites that I recommend for them.

I do my very best to talk about all the reasons these other photographers are great for the client. I have had even a few of those photographers come back and ask to use my recommendation for others. They had never had anyone talk so positive about them and their work.

Because I talk up the photographers the customers actually get excited to meet them and ask about some of the things I have bragged about on them.

Who will you surprise today?