Unlock the secrets to happy clients: The power of asking for feedback


In episode 481 of the Business of Photography Podcast, you’ll learn how to get feedback from your clients to improve your photography business. Bryan provides practical insights and strategies to level your business up, built on the foundation of client feedback.

You’ll learn:

  • The 4 reasons why asking for feedback is so important
  • The best 3 ways to ask for feedback
  • 6 ways you can set yourself (and your clients) up for success with constructive and celebratory feedback
  • A framework (with 6 example questions) for asking specific and open-ended questions

Links and resources:

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Unlock the secrets to happy clients: The power of asking for feedback

Named best of iTunes, The Business of Photography is a weekly podcast where we interview industry experts and business specialists who share high-value, no-fluff, concrete business ideas for professional photographers.

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Welcome to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. Here's your host, Brian Caper Picture. This a Facebook group full of photographers unleashing their frustrations about clients. Complaints fill the air from clients questioning turnaround times to nitpicking locations and under appreciating the value of prints. But what if I told you that every complaint is an opportunity a chance to learn and to grow and if you had just one small mindset shift, it would unlock a whole new direction of growth for your business. Welcome to the world of client feedback where real growth in your business happens today, we're gonna dive deep into the power of asking for feedback because when you talk to your clients, they will reveal all of the secrets to more satisfied clients, stronger relationships and a thriving business. 

Photographers love to complain in Facebook groups. And it's so funny because you can spot it a million miles away. They almost act like their clients are against them. You'll read things and I'm sure if you're in any other Facebook groups, you've probably seen things like this. 

They'll say things like, oh I can't believe that my clients always complain about the turnaround time for the photos. They just don't understand how much work goes into editing these things. It's so frustrating! O they'll say things like, hey, just had a client who was so picky about the location for their shoe. They should just trust me and my judgment as a professional or they'll say things like uh clients don't appreciate the value of prints. They just want digital files. It's so frustrating. How am I ever going to make a living? You see things like this all the time? And uh it is always so interesting when I see that because I say what a shame or I think what a shame that we take sides against our clients and we almost treat our clients like they're the enemy and they're not the enemy. 

We're not on opposite sides of our clients. Instead, what I love to think of is every complaint like that or every time that a client reaches out that um might cause us frustration, I like to take that as an opportunity to learn. And so if you can take ownership on this kind of unsolicited feedback from your clients, if you can figure out a way to learn from it, if you can take it and make a change in your business, so that the next client doesn't have that complaint or doesn't have that issue, it doesn't have that challenge or doesn't voice that concern. Then you're growing your business in an iterative way with every bit of feedback along the way. Let's talk a little bit about business growth. 

We know that success in photography, you know that success in photography is 80% business and 20% photography. This entire podcast is about the business of photography. You know that you understand that you love that. That's why you're here. A lot of the times photographers, you may go to a workshop, you may go to a conference, you may go to an event, you may read a book, you may read a blog, you may listen to a podcast. 

You may hear a tactic on how to grow your business. You know, do this, use this tool, use this tactic, do this thing or maybe a photographer will say, hey, here's what I did and then you'll try and replicate that. But that's really hard to build a scalable business off of tactics and strategies built by other people. Because how do you know what's gonna work for you? Your business is different, your clients are different, your personality is different, your brand is different. Your market is different, how you photograph, how you see the world is different. So how are you going to be able to take what someone else has done and replicate that in your own business? 

I mean, hey, there's things we can learn from that. I'm, I'm a huge advocate for that, but to take a tactic, verbatim, carbon copy it and implement it in your own business is a really tough ask. And that's why I advocate for talking to the people that matter most in your business. If you talk to your clients, they will tell you everything you need to know. Let me give you an example of this. 

I remember I've been a photographer for 17 years, 18 years and earlier on in my career, before I implemented an intentional client feedback loop, I would run engagement sessions the way that probably most photographers, maybe even you would run engagement sessions. I had a rhythm, I would show up. I would do my thing. I'd make the photographs, clients would be happy and, and that would be it. But one day when I started to implement a intentional client feedback loop into my business, I learned some really, really interesting things. So I started actually asking after my clients had received their engagement photos, I asked them for feedback. 

I would do it in a phone call and, and I would just ask them questions. A lot of the things that we're gonna talk about today. I would ask them questions to understand how that process was for them. How did the engagement session feel for you? And again, you could replicate this for any kind of photo. Photography doesn't have to be just engagement. But I asked them for feedback. And what I learned is that in the 1st 10 to 15 minutes. 

My clients felt really, really awkward. They didn't have great expectations set up, they would arrive to the session in their vehicle, kind of look over at each other and be like, well, you know, get ready for this. This is going to be awkward and they would kind of start the session with a really bad expectation and a really sort of bad state of mind about what this session would look like. And then of course, by the end of it, they were always like, oh my gosh, that was like way better than I could have thought. 

I can't believe we were worried. I can't believe we were stressed. I can't believe that was something that we were even concerned about. So I was able to get through that. But I thought like, man, that 1st 10 to 15 minutes, that's, that's awkward for them, that's uncomfortable for them. How can I turn that around? And that feedback was so crucial. So I started implementing things to make those 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning better. 

I set better expectations ahead of time. I would spend more time at the beginning of the session, explaining what was going to happen. I would incorporate more um fluidity into the 1st 10, 15 minutes of the session versus like posy stuff so that they could kind of warm up and get used to it and just find their rhythm and all that. And I would keep it fun and light and that sort of thing. And with that feedback, and then I'd go through more feedback loops and see how I can improve that. And with that feedback, I was able to improve my engagement session experience and I never would have known that had I not reached out and talked to my clients. And that's just a small micro example of one very, very small part of the overall customer experience that we give our clients, that we wouldn't know that information unless we reached out and asked our clients for that. So today, we're going to really get into the meat and potatoes and we're gonna go through three things about client feedback. Number one, why asking for feedback is so important? 

Number two, how to ask for feedback. And then number three, how to set yourself and your clients up for success with constructive and celebratory feedback. So the first part, let's talk about why asking for feedback is so important. There's four reasons why asking for feedback is so important in your photography. Business. Number one, it will help improve your client experience. Now, this one is probably perhaps the most obvious by asking your clients for feedback, you can learn what you're doing, right? And what area needs improvement, you can use their feedback to improve what you offer. 

You can improve your services, you can improve your products, you can improve your client experience, you can improve your work as a photographer, it just helps you build a better client experience as a package. Number two, why asking for feedback is so important. It builds trust. See when you ask your clients for feedback, it shows that you value their opinion, you value their input, you are there with them and for them and that you are constantly working to give them the best experience, the best product, the best service possible. And that builds trust and it strengthens that relationship between you and your clients because you align shoulder to shoulder and you're working together through these things as opposed to it being a you versus a client thing. Reason number three, why asking for feedback is so important, it helps avoid future problems. 

See by regularly asking your clients for feedback you can catch and then even address any issues before they turn into bigger problems. So this not only helps you keep clients happy, but it also helps you avoid negative situations, negative bumpings, negative reviews, negative consequences from having upset clients. And a lot of the time that happens when we don't even know about it. So most of the time our clients will have a negative situation, they'll have sort of a problem with you, with your business, with their experience, with their photos, whatever it is and they won't say anything about it to u they will tell their friends, their family, their acquaintances or at the very best, they just won't refer you, they'll just be in sort of neutral stance, not super happy, not super stoked. Nobody knows about it, but you're not gonna get any referrals from them. So by you asking for that feedback and by showing up and raising your hand and saying, tell me like, how can I do better? Have I? Have I introduced a problem into this experience that I'm not aware of. 

Tell me I want to hear about it. It helps you avoid those future problems. Number four, why asking for feedback is so important? 

Kind of the obvious one, it helps you grow by continually improving your experience, your uh services, your products and everything, your photography, by incorporating this feedback, you can grow your business and attract more clients. You're gonna get more referrals because happy clients and ones that have trust in you and ones that have enjoyed the experience and that have been a part of this process with you are more likely to refer you and then you're going to build this referable business, this remarkable business and then therefore, ultimately grow, grow your client base, grow your revenue, be able to charge more so on and so forth. It's gonna help you grow as a business. So those are four reasons why asking for feedback is so important. Let's go into the next section. How to ask for feedback. 

There's three ways and in our seeds to success. Email, I actually walk through these three ways and I give you specific scripts on exactly how to implement them. So I'm not gonna read it those here in this podcast. But the three ways are number one to send your clients a quick email. So this is just to get feedback in an email. In the simplest way it could be via a questionnaire. Um Maybe you're using studio and you use a questionnaire for that or maybe it's just a hey reply to this email and let me know what you think. So the easy way and this is something that you could implement today right now. Like this. The next thing that you do after we're done talking right here is just start sending emails to your clients asking them for feedback. That's the simplest. That's the low hanging fruit. So you send your clients a quick email and in the seeds to success email. Um I I give you a script of exactly what to say to your clients to get that feedback. So that's, that's the first way. 

The second way to ask for feedback is to interview your clients. This is kind of just taking it one step further. Instead of it being a passive email, you actually set up a call, a zoom call, a phone call, an in person, get together whatever it is and you interview them, you actually ask them questions to get their feedback on things. And again, in the seeds to success email, I have the full script on exactly what you say to prompt that interview with your clients. Now, the third way of how to ask for feedback is really next level, these are the photographers that are doing the best in business, are doing this and it is that they set up what I call transition interviews and they ask their clients regularly for feedback. So it's not just at the end of the overall experience, you say like, hey, how was that for you? Um You're getting way more granular kind of like what I talked about earlier with the engagement session. 

Example, you are finding these micro moments throughout the experience with your clients. Whenever a client transitions from one phase to the next, at that pivot point, you build transition interviews and you get in touch with your clients and you ask them and you interview them and you make it just a part of your overall experience and you're gonna ask them for feedback probably 6789 times. Now. It's not crazy in depth. You're not asking a lot of them in terms of a commitment, but you're building these micro opportunities for them to give you feedback and for you to collect that feedback to improve very specific parts of the client experience with you. So again, we go into more detail and again, I've got a script on exactly what and how to do all of those three things in the seeds to success email. But those are three ways to, of how to ask for feedback. 

Now, the third segment here is how to set yourself up and how to set your clients up for success with both constructive and celebratory feedback. And I've got six points. I want to get over to help you really optimize this feedback machine to help you make the most and to help you get the most value and for your clients to get the most value out of a constructive and celebratory feedback loop. Number one set clear expectations with your clients. Make sure that when you are setting up these conversations, these emails, these things to to get feedback from them, make sure that they understand the purpose of it, they know why they're doing it, they know what you're hoping to get from it and that there's clear expectations with like, no, I actually want to hear your feedback and that kind of leads into number two, which is to create a safe and welcoming environment for feedback, meaning I don't need you just to be a yes person. 

I don't need you just to tell me all the things that I'm doing great. And I think this is where most photographers probably go wrong because they're gonna ask for feedback, expecting the um sort of vanity metric out of it. You know, the double taps on Instagram, the likes on Facebook, they're expecting just that generic positive feedback where it's, you know, they want the validation that they're doing a good job. But if you can set this up both, number one with clear expectations and then number two with a safe and welcoming environment for feedback, then you're going to actually be able to create a space where your clients feel comfortable to actually give you true constructive feedback. And then of course, you want to leave space for celebratory feedback as well. But the most important stuff that's going to really drive your business and help you grow and get all those benefits we talked about earlier is if you can get the constructive feedback, so you have to create that safe and welcoming environment for that. 

Now that leads into number three, which is to prepare yourself for actual feedback and go into these conversations, open minded. You are a creative, you make incredible work, you work hard for your clients and the work that you make with your vision, with your hands, with your camera, with your creativity is so attached to who you are. And that's why artists very typically don't love having feedback. But my encouragement to you is that your success will be dependent on this feedback. So prepare yourself for feedback and know that you're not gonna hear just the things that you want to hear. You're going to hear some feedback, some constructive criticism that ultimately is going to help drive you forward. But you have to put yourself in the right mindset to be open to that to be OK with that, to welcome that. So prepare yourself for feedback and go in open minded. 

Number four, again, we're talking about how to set up for success, how to set yourself up for success, how to set your clients up for success with constructive and celebratory feedback. Number four, ask specific and open ended questions. So you don't want to ask just yes, no questions. You don't want to ask things that could lead to sort of a dead end. You want to ask more open ended questions, but also get as specific as possible. And in this, you want to include questions about both photography and their experience. So it's not just that you're looking for feedback on how do I make better pictures for you, but you're also not just looking for feedback on how do I service you better or how can I communicate better with you? You want to get feedback on both sides? And I've got a couple of quick examples here of questions that you could ask that, that both that lean into both. So I'll kind of run through these, um can you share any specific moments or interactions during our session that stood out to you? What made those memorable? Another question could be, were there any aspects of our communication and the planning process that you found particularly helpful? Or is there any part of that that I could have improved upon to set you up better for success. Another question could be, how did you feel during the session? Did you feel comfortable and at ease or were there any moments where you sort of felt unsure and uncomfortable? Now, the question is, what was the most surprising thing that you noticed when you first saw your photos? 

That was more about the photography. Next question, which specific images or moments that I captured for you resonated with you the most? And why another question is how do the photographs make you feel when you look back at them? So those are just some examples of some specific and open ended questions. And you can see how asking those kinds of questions are so much more powerful than just being like, how was your experience with me, period, right? Like how was I on your wedding day? Tell me about, did you like your pictures? Like that's just so generic and closed minded. So you want to ask specific and open ended questions. 

Point number five of how to make the most out of these feedback sessions is to always be actively listening, make notes, record it. If you can lean into it, don't be waiting for their mouth to stop moving, for you to ask the next next question. You want to be actively listening in on these conversations. And then sixth and probably the most important point which sort of puts a bow on this entire piece of education is to take action on the feedback. So take notes, compile it all, summarize it, process it be in an open mind to really hear it, to really listen to it, dig deeper, ask specific questions. But then at the end of the day, take action on this feedback, do something with it because if you can improve your experience, if you can improve your creativity, if you can improve your photography, if you can improve your communications, your expectations, you can improve it just like 1% or even half of a percent with every one of these feedback sessions. Oh my goodness. Imagine the impact this is going to have on your business after you've done this for three months or after you've done this for six months or after you've done this for three years, the business that you have today will be a completely different business that you will have in a year from now. 

If you're doing this iterative and if you're actually taking action, so there we have it all about how to incorporate client feedback, how to ask for feedback. Why you should be asking for feedback, how to optimize that feedback so that you can ultimately grow your photography business by listening to the people who actually matter by listening to the people who will actually move the needle for you in your business, which is your clients. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for hanging out and we'll talk to you in the next episode. Thanks for listening to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. You can do it all in one place with Sprout studio. Stay organized. Give your clients a seamless experience and get more done faster. Visit gets Sprouts studio dot com to learn more about Sprout studio. 

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