Si Moore is a hugely talented film photographer and artist from New Zealand who runs several businesses with his wife Sophie, including Bayly & Moore (wedding photography), Arcade (event furniture hire), Boxful (wedding catering), Story & Light (photography workshops), to name just a few.
He’s always working on different projects and is an expert on customer care, so I wanted to chat with him about the principles of offering and creating an amazing customer experience. I had a blast catching up with my friend and I hope it’s as inspiring to you to hear as it was fun for us to record!
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, you might think that making art is at the heart of what you do; however, as Si puts it, “Rather than thinking of it as us working in an art industry offering a service, we work in a service industry making art.”
80% of what we do as creative entrepreneurs is giving a service, whereas only 20% is actually making the art. So customer experience is crucial. Understanding how human beings work, how to build trust, how to be in the right place at the right time…all of these elements add up to creating a fantastic customer experience that is as important (if not more so) than the actual art/product itself.
Think about a Michelin-starred restaurant: it doesn’t matter how much research, preparation and passion goes into creating a beautiful plate of food – if it’s cold or just slapped down in front of you by a rude waiter then this negative experience will cancel out everything that led up to that point.
The delivery vehicle for your art is an essential part of the experience.
We hear that target markets can be mysteries to identify but if you think about it, as a creative entrepreneur, you have a ready-made test audience member staring at you in the mirror.
You may not have the same background, life experience or ideologies as your audience but you both agree on one important thing – you love your art. Build from that crossover point and you’ll be able to understand what your clients want in relation to the service that you’re providing. Why? Because it’s what you would want too.
We’ve talked about going out into the real world and learning from other customer experiences that you have with businesses that are totally different from yours (cafes, airlines, hotels, etc.). However, it’s usually been focused on how to implement the good elements…why not think about some terrible experiences you’ve had and learn from them too?!
You learn the most when you have an experience that you hate. The next time that you have awful customer experience, pay attention to how you feel, why you think it’s happening and how it could have been avoided. Learn from this terrible experience and see how can you spot warning signs in your own business so that none of your customers ever have to feel like you did.
The old marketing adage ‘underpromise and overdeliver’ is often misinterpreted as ‘underpromise…and then just deliver!’ So many businesses don’t take the time to put in the extra effort where it counts, so if you can identify these hotspots then you can win big.
Whether it’s replying to an email within a few hours rather than a few days or any other seemingly inconsequential element of your service, if you flex your empathic muscles and think about the little things that would impress you as a customer then you can be ahead of your peers with minimal effort.
Your pricing should reflect the type of clients that you want to deal with. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and want to shoot $40K weddings then that’s great if you’re surrounded by the sort of people who drop that amount on a wedding. But if you’re not hanging out on yachts every other weekend, it’s going to be hard to jump into that world and essentially pretend to be someone else every time you have to work.
On the flip side, if you undervalue yourself then clients won’t respect you as much as if they were paying you a ‘professional’ amount. Don’t get insecure about your pricing – be confident in what you charge. You don’t always (or ever!) have to give discounts. Not everyone is a bargain hunter – some clients are looking for an experience and are happy to pay for it.
Let your clients know that you are on their side. Make them feel as if they are part of your club! And as club members care more about the experience than the price, you don’t have to nickel-and-dime them by charging an extra hour at the end of a shoot, tagging on additional shots to their bill, etc. because you’ve already covered this by charging a reasonable entry fee upfront.
Being the leader of a club means that you have to pay attention to how you interact with your clients, how you move through a room, how you engage over email…essentially tailoring every aspect of the customer experience so that at the end of the day it transcends money. What do I mean by this? I mean that you want to get your service to the point at which your clients aren’t thinking whether it was worth the higher fee but are so overjoyed that all they’ve had to do is give you some cash and they get this incredible experience.
Here’s what I tell everyone who attends my Free The Bird workshops: A business must be needed or loved. And a luxury wedding photography business is definitely not needed…so it must be loved! Work out how to get people to fall in love with what you’re doing and you will have a successful business.
As you can tell from the show, Si and I could have gone on talking for hours and hours and hours…so we have to get him back on the podcast, right?!
I’ve got live workshops coming up in New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney – there are still tickets left and I’d love to meet you in person and help take your business to the next level.
This episode is brought to you by the guys over at PepperStorm, an awesome copywriting team who I have used across all my businesses for years. If you need some killer copywriting, get in touch and use the code: MAKEYOURBREAK to get $100 off when you buy one of their packages.