How is your business doing? What features or services would help you book more clients? Why do most of your clients drop their print order during the last step? The answers to these and other questions you have about your photography business are the keys to your success as a professional photographer. And most of them can be found in customer feedback.
Knowing the “why” behind your clients’ behavior can help you optimize your service for maximum value and profit.
In this post you will find out the benefits of collecting client feedback, how to get it and what to do with the feedback you’ve gathered.
When to Collect Customer Feedback
The answer is simple: at every stage of developing your business. Whether you’re just starting to charge money for your photography or have an established business, client feedback is a critical success gauge to refer to.
For instance, at Defrozo we have been relying on user feedback from the very beginning. Below is the screenshot of our survey we used to define some key features our photography marketing platform should provide.
Why Feedback is Important
Hunting down and handling complaints, as well as thanking your clients for positive reviews on Facebook may seem like an obvious task, but in reality, we often find some more important work to do or simply ignore feedback altogether. Here are the top 5 reasons you should invest your time and effort in researching client feedback.
- it gives you a general understanding of your performance
- it helps you figure out areas for improvement
- it points at product or service failures enabling you to fix them quickly
- it shows clients that their opinions matter
- it helps you learn the market trends and optimize your business further
Ways to Get Client Feedback
In the era of social media, you get feedback whether you want it or not. People post their reviews and impressions on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, they are tagging their friends in their Instagram comments and sharing their favorites with entire world via numerous social services. However, a large part of your customers’ thoughts are left unspoken, at least in terms of social media and to get the full picture you need to approach your research in multiple directions.
Surveys are the best way to get clear feedback on a particular matter. By surveying your clients regularly, you keep your keep finger on the pulse all the time. Surveys should not be too long, respect your clients time as well as your own. To make sure clients will actually fill out the survey, you can try luring them with discounts for your products. Or, make the survey totally anonymous which allows clients to be totally honest about how they feel about you.
Tip: make your surveys short and to the point, making use of open-ended questions and avoiding extra questions that don’t offer you any real insight into your customers. In other words, don’t waste your customer’s time.
Essential surveys for every photographer
Of course, you can successfully run your photography business without doing any market or customer research, but if you want to complete your tasks faster and more effectively, then you really should spend some time on research. Among the most helpful surveys to conduct while making strategic decisions for your business are the following:
- If you’re changing your branding. Share your plans to change your company name or logo with your clients and see the reaction. Show them some prototypes of your website title, logo, packaging, etc, and gauge their impressions.
- If you’re revising your services, products, and packages. Collect some feedback regarding your current offering and test some ideas on your new products / services. Finding out what your clients think about your competitors’ offers might also be of help.
- Demographic study. The more facts (age, birthday, likes and expectations, etc) you know about your clients, the easier it will be for you to get them hooked by your service.
- Customer service feedback. After a photo session, ask your customers to let you know how you are doing. Even if there was something negative in their experience, your desire to find it out and fix it won’t be left unnoticed.
Whatever the objective of your survey is, make sure it’s expressed clearly as this encourages clients to complete the survey and provide accurate feedback you can make use of.
Surveys you should implement today
- Email thank-you page survey. Most email marketing services like MailChimp, Aweber, and so on enable you to customize the thank-you page that your subscribers see after they confirm their subscription. This is a great place to run a quick poll or survey to get more information about your subscribers which you could then use to personalize your email campaigns.
- Existing client survey. Seriously, get to know your clients. A proactive approach to your customer service is a proven method to strengthen your clients’ loyalty. It’s also a good tactic to conduct existing client surveys on a regular basis to monitor the health and performance of your business.
Tools to collect surveys
Unless you’re going to conduct a “heavy-duty” audience research (which is rarely the case for photography businesses), you can go with a free survey collection tool. Some of the best free tools currently available on the market are the following:
Some great features of Google Forms include:
- Unlimited surveys and respondents
- Survey data automatically collected in Google Spreadsheets
- Wide choice of theme options
- Custom logo option
- Add images and videos
- Add survey to your emails or website
Registering for a free plan you get:
- 10 questions
- 100 respondents
- 15 question types
- Limited design customization
You’ll be surprised by the number of features offered in the Typeform’s free plan. Among the most attractive ones are:
- Unlimited surveys & responses
- Customizable, mobile-ready forms
- Design your theme or use a template
- Self-notifications (emails)
- Split-device metrics
- Data export (.xlsx)
Another tool worth considering. The free Zoho Survey account provides you with:
- Unlimited surveys
- 15 survey questions
- 150 responses
- 50+ theme templates
- integration with MailChimp
One more survey collector offering a decent number of features for free:
- unlimited surveys, survey questions, and responses
- 90+ pre-written surveys
- supports 20 languages
- survey embedding
- survey sharing in social networks
Example Surveys from Photographers
Lara K. Huffman Photography created a survey with general questions about respondents’ wedding photography experience and expectations, this type of survey can help you better understand the demand and position your service in the market.
In another example, Joan M Photography was considering renting a studio and conducted a survey which was intended to help her make the decision. Good example of a survey with a clear objective.
Reach Clients via Email
When clients sign up to your updates via email you have a great opportunity to send an auto-responder message asking a few questions about your services. You may ask about what they think of the quality of your work, what feature they’d like to see in future, or just the reason why they signed up to receive your emails. Let them know how their feedback will help you improve your service and don’t hesitate to solicit replies.
Tip: divide your email contacts into segments (current customers, wedding clients, vendors, past clients, prospects) and tailor your email campaign to each specific group.
Just call them!
Many people communicate beyond Facebook. Imagine that. Sometimes you can achieve a better result by simply calling your client and speaking to them directly. However, be sure to prepare your conversation beforehand to avoid awkward silences. Outline the list of questions you’re going to ask. Be polite and make it clear you’re ready for criticism, as they may be too shy to say something negative about your business over the phone.
Tip: a client’s birthday or anniversary makes the perfect conversation starter and it is a sure-fire way to reinforce your relationships with them.
Monitor Social Media for Feedback
As mentioned above, monitoring your brand mentions and reviews in social media is a must for any business these days. Tools like Hootsuite and SimplyMeasured enable convenient tracking and analyzing of your social media performance.
Tip: when conducting a poll via your social media channels, make sure they do not reveal any strategic moves to your competitors. New discount policies or some extraordinary mini-session offers are better discussed in a more private environment.
Here are a few quick poll ideas for social media:
- How did you stumble upon Jon Doe Photography?
- Would you prefer a studio session or on-location shoot?
- Image poll: Help me solve a dilemma…
- Would you rather get your images on a CD or an online gallery?
- When are you able to attend a workshop?
Measure Successes Using Website Analytics
On-site activity can give you a pretty good idea at what people want from your business. From Google Analytics to CrazyEgg and KISSMetrics, there are plenty of software solutions giving you an understanding of which products and services you create that people use more than others.
Which photos they like the most, what posts on your blog are the most shared, and which pages of your site are visited the most are all important metrics to keep an eye on.
Tip: make it easy for your website visitors to leave feedback by incorporating feedback boxes and polls directly on your site. Check out this free feedback widget for websites by Get an Insight.
Find Trends and Follow Them
So, you’ve collected various types of feedback via different ways, but what do you do next? Between the surveys, emails, and social media comments, you’ll have many ideas of what direction to take your business in.
Of course, no matter what you do and how many resources you have, you won’t be able to react to all the feedback you receive. And even if you’re able to, it’s impossible to please everyone. Too much time and effort would be spent and it’s not worth it.
The thing about getting feedback is to find trends and follow them. If a few people ask you for the very same thing, you should consider it and implement the changes to your business. Reach out to these people directly to clarify their needs and better understand the issue, and then start acting.
When you collect feedback from your clients on a regular basis, you know for sure you’re moving in the right direction. Test the various methods above to find your own perfect combination. What other ways do you use to get feedback from your clients? Please share with us in the comments.