How to Create an Incredible Elopement Client Experience
Your client experience is just as, if not more important, as your photos. Being an elopement photographer means more than just showing up on the day of and photographing the event. A lot of the time it means getting to know your couples deeply and helping them create a wedding day experience that is true to them. These couples are inviting you to an extremely intimate moment of their lives. A day that some of their closest people were not invited to, so making sure their experience with you and on their wedding day is great is paramount!
If you are interested in learning more about how to become an elopement photographer, check out this freebie!
What is client experience?
Your client experience typically starts way before a client even books you. It's the entire experience with your brand from the moment they find you, all the way until after their wedding day. From your website, social media, the initial inquiry email and all the way to the final gallery delivery. Do you chat with them on the phone? Zoom calls? Client gifts? How often are you communicating with them and sending them resources?
Basically, any interaction you have with your clients is part of their experience working with you. And every single interaction needs to be a positive one.
Why is client experience important?
As a photographer the product you deliver is important, but the entire process up to that point is what is going to make your clients happy. In the end, that is what is most important - the way you make them feel. The best way to figure this out is to imagine your own wedding experience, whether you're married or not. If your photographer went above and beyond to make sure your experience was stress free, showed up with energy and passion, and gave you an unreal experience, then wouldn't that make looking through the photos even more special?
Now imagine your photographer not talking to you until the week before your day. The day of, he/she knows nothing about you, therefore it was kind of awkward being together in intimate moments. You may still love the photos, but the way you feel definitely isn't the same than the first scenario.
You see, providing an incredible client experience gives your clients confidence in your abilities before they even see the photos. The moment they look at the photos, they are happier than ever. Not only are the photos beautiful, but the experience you provided to them before, during and after their day is what they remember from these photos. If their experience working with you was great, they will be more than happy to leave you 5-star reviews and share just how you made their elopement experience special.
My biggest tips on how to create an incredible elopement experience:
How can you provide an incredible experience to couples without getting to know them? Communication is the biggest aspect of the client experience and is what can make or break their time with you.
From the initial inquiry form, I get couples on the phone to talk about what they are looking for and to build a connection right from the start. During that initial call, I talk about what the process looks like so they understand what to expect and how I approach their day. This sets expectations and allows me to chat with a couple before they even book with me, so I can sell my worth and build a strong bond from the start.
Once they decide to book, I have multiple zoom calls so they begin to feel comfortable with me and feel like they know me. We talk about their day, brainstorm ideas of what to do, and talk through any challenges they are facing. This makes them feel taken care of and trusts that their day is in good hands.
Miscommunication is very easy and can be a leading cause in bad reviews or experiences. It's important to check in with your clients throughout the planning process. Over communicate and be a helpful friend. Be transparent with them and set realistic expectations. Remember that you are the expert, and they want your guidance.
TIP: A helpful CRM also really helps with communication and organization. I personally use Dubsado and it has truly changed my client experience.
You want to be over-delivering and under-promising! It can be hard to not sell yourself by saying you have a 24 hour turnaround time for sneak peeks or that you will deliver 100 photos per hour of coverage. However, if you don’t hit those targets your clients will be disappointed. Instead, you should be over-delivering and promising clients less than what you know you can hit.
For example, if you consistently send out sneak peeks within 24-48 hours, then tell your clients they'll have sneak peeks within 1 week. When you deliver them within the 24-48 hour mark, they will be ecstatic and extremely grateful.
This is also helpful when you get into a really busy time and realize you can’t hit your goal deadlines. If you set realistic timelines, then you will avoid stress and burn out. Set under-promising expectations, then over-deliver.
There are so many things that can happen during an elopement day. Being prepared for even the smallest ones can be incredibly helpful for your clients (and their experience). It's the little things that can elevate your client experience and become a "WOW" factor.
For elopements I bring along what I call my “emergency bag”. This has everything I could think of that could help a client on their wedding day. It has everything from hairspray, to makeup wipes, to bandaids, hand warmers, medicine, and even an extra layer. I also have my trunk full of snacks, umbrellas, cold gear, and more. When couples realize I am prepared for whatever happens, they then have the confidence everything will be ok.
Create helpful blog posts and tips:
I know this may be obvious, but you have planned more elopements and gone through this process so many more times than your clients. Things that may seem obvious to you or things you don’t even think about may be a major concern or a struggle for some of your couples. Be mindful of that and try to help them by sending helpful blog posts or tips through the process.
If you notice a lot of your couples are struggling with permitting in the location you work in, write a detailed blog post about it that walks them through the entire process. That way you can send it along to them when they go to fill out the permits, and it saves you time and energy from having to re-explain the information every time.
Provide helpful resources:
- Elopement Experience Workbook: I created this workbook after hearing from my couples "we don't even know where to begin". So this workbook walks them through every single step of the experience process. It's also a great thing to include in welcome gifts if that is something you do!
- Guest Guide: I created this guest guide because I saw how unprepared their guests were. I was also getting asked from my couples how to tell their guests the details. So I created two guides. One helps explain their wedding plans, and the second is to explain the timeline, what to expect, packing details and more.
- Packing Guide: A packing guide with everything I think they need to think of bringing. This avoids unnecessary stress and makes them start thinking of items beforehand. It is also a checklist that they can print out!
While you don't need to have guides, it is helpful to give guidance throughout the process. This guideance can be simple emails, blog posts, or phone calls as well. However, I send these guides in different stages so they feel prepared and not overwhelmed.
Building a client experience is completely personal to you and how you run your company. How one photographer does something may not match how you do with yours. In the beginning, there is a lot of trial and error, experimenting, and learning what works and what doesn’t. It can seem overwhelming at first but start by making an outline of what working with a client usually looks like and use that as your guide to see areas where you can add value!
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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