There’s nothing more rewarding than returning home from a weekend of travel and work, feeling entirely exhausted, but then opening up your email or checking your text messages to find heartfelt thank yous from clients. It’s these special notes and thoughtful reviews that fuel us to keep pushing forward. To know that we’ve brought forth this kind of genuine happiness – it’s why we do what we do!
But that wonderful, gratitude-filled client reaction – it’s certainly not guaranteed. So what additional steps can we take to ensure our clients are not only satisfied, but that their ecstatic with our overall performance? Here’s 3 steps to help you better understand your clients so you can create a customized game plan for success!
#1 ASK, ASK & DON’T ASSUME | We’re professionals, and with that title comes a lot of trust. Others look to us for answers, to be prepared and to problem solve. It’s important that we be confident, but we also need to be careful. Our businesses are personal. Every wedding, and every client, is different. And so we need to be able to customize our approach and tailor our reactions accordingly. Building a plan isn’t only based on what we know and our experience, it’s about our client’s vision and hopes for this time in their life.
A key to learning your client is asking more valuable questions. This means going beyond the quick who, what, where, when and tapping into the more personal pieces of the puzzle. Learning your client isn’t just knowing the wedding venue, it’s discovering the emotional attachment of why this couple chose this special location. It’s knowing the story behind the bride’s antique veil, or understanding the beautiful relationships amongst the bridal party. It’s getting past surface level conversation and genuinely getting to know your client so that you can customize your decisions and creativity in a way that will make them truly happy.
I use the following 2 questionnaires at different parts of the pre-wedding process, and build a stacked client folder that holds all of this great info and more.
Initial Questionnaire The client has reviewed my pricing guide and we’ve moved forward with an “initial call” to properly introduce ourselves . During this conversation I make sure to have my initial questionnaire handy and jot down answers as the call unfolds. Throughout the call I stay aware of the appropriate timing to bring up each question – this way it’s a natural flow, and not an awkward interview-style conversation.
Final Questionnaire It’s about 2 weeks before the wedding and it’s time for our meeting to confirm all the final details! The wedding day anticipation is really high, so the conversation tends to go in all different exciting directions! Having this questionnaire in front of me keeps my focus and ensures that I’ll leave the call completely on the same page as my client, totally ready for their wedding day!
#2 SET EXPECTATIONS DELIBERATELY | One of the biggest mistakes we can make right off the bat is setting unrealistic expectations for our clients. This usually happens because we feel pressured in the moment to give an answer that they’ll immediately be impressed with. The big, stressful challenge then becomes – you BETTER follow through and hit that deadline or deliver that promise, because if you don’t, there will be immediate disappointment on your client’s end. The practice that time and time again proves to be incredibly successful for me: underpromise & overdeliver.
If you’re a photographer and know you can deliver images within 2 weeks of a wedding, tell your client 5 weeks. Imagine how pleasantly surprised they’ll be the moment they receive notification that their photos are ready! If you’re a planner and your client asks for something you’re not entirely sure is possible, don’t confirm until you’re 150% sure. This way they don’t get their hopes up, and will be SO excited if you’re able to deliver their request. Whatever the business, whatever the product or service, deliberately and carefully set expectations that guarantee success.
#3 CREATE COMFORTABLE COMMUNICATION | When a couple signs contract with me, I make it very clear that I want to have the type of honest relationship where they can communicate any concerns that may arise. I want to know what’s on their mind before their wedding day, this way I can react appropriately and be a positive influence on how the day unfolds. This comfort and friendship element to our professional relationship is really important to have. The wedding industry is personal. We as wedding professionals are working to create a day that radiates with joy and love, so we must be aware of any possible grey area. I find that grabbing coffee or lunch, randomly texting or emailing to check in, etc. – are all wonderful ways to maintain that open line of communication throughout the planning process.