Tag Archives: What is good customer service?

How to spot Wedding Scammers

JB Moments Photography - Scottish Wedding PhotographerHow to spot scam wedding photographers

It saddens me that I’m even writing this. However, ever since I have been business I see at least one post a month (sometimes more) from couples on wedding social media sites that have been let down by their wedding ‘photographer’. Scamming couples planning for their big day has become so prevalent there are even Facebook groups that are dedicated to stopping these criminals such as Scottish Wedding Scammers and Wedding Scammers Don’t Let Them Win. Both good places to start if not sure about a supplier but be warned, reading about people’s wedding plans being shattered doesn’t make for pleasant viewing.

A wedding is such a memorable and important moment for brides, grooms, their families, friends and relatives. The organisation of such an event requires elaborate planning and preparation, as well as interviewing, hiring and coordinating several suppliers to make it a success. The most common complaint from scam victims, according to the reports in the media, is for vendors who look like legitimate businesses and service providers but either, never deliver the service or do not deliver it in a way that is consistent with expectations. While the latter could be subjective and due to multiple reasons, the former is a pure form of scam.

Today I will be sharing some ideas that, with a bit of homework, might help you spot a scammer.

1. Consistency

Every photographer has a pretty unique photography style which not only defines him or her as an artist but which also differentiates them from other photographers. You should be able to see consistency in the work of a photographer either in person or on their website. Try to browse through the photographs of at least three to five weddings by a certain photographer to truly get a grasp of their style. Make sure they’re all similar. If you see inconsistency, then it may be cause for concern that the images themselves have been taken by other photographers and placed on a website to simply populate it.

2. Websites

While many businesses do not have websites alarm bells might trigger if you only see a photographer’s work solely through Facebook.

Photography is a visual art, and photographs are meant to be shared and displayed. A legitimate business is expected to have an online presence, especially one marketing photography services. Being unable to visit the website of the business you are considering is a red flag. (note they may not be a scammer but could be a newly-started, and not-yet-established business – if in doubt ask).

If you are able to locate and visit the website; look for contact info. Legitimate businesses want people to find them online and contact them in order to establish a professional relationship with them. While you browse through the website, pay attention to broken URL links or incomplete web pages. It could be a sign of website design made up on the fly, or one where not much attention was paid to detail. Any business owner who cares about the user experience and its own online presence would maintain and keep its website functional and updated.

Again, make sure it is all consistent with everything else you see the photographer display on other media sites and that all the details match up.

3. Business Details

While as a sole trader you are not necessarily required to be listed under Companies House, if the company claims to be a Limited company, go onto the Companies House website and check them out.

Again, while not mandatory, most professional photographers will belong to a governing body, mine, for example, is the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers). This information is clearly stated on my website, please feel free to contact them to find out more about me. Again, they will list the given address of my business; make sure all these details match up to who the photographer claims to be.

The second biggest element in this section I believe, would be business insurance. I for one am insured through Aaduki Multimedia Insurance for Photographers. Believe it or not, some wedding venues ask suppliers such as myself to show insurance details before they allowing you on the premises. It is always a good idea to ask to see your photographers fall back plans and insurance certificates.

For example:

On the day, I will have my camera which has two memory card slots backing up photographs straight away. If there is an issue with my first camera, I have a second camera ready and waiting. Once home, the images are placed onto separate hard drives so again everything is backed up. Everything is then,  sent to the cloud to be backed up again in case my house gets set on fire, floods, etc (you get the picture!)… I would rather prevent any issues than create them, or destroy your day.

4. Contracts

First of all, make sure you are offered one! A contract should be in place to protect you both. It should also provide a recorded note of what you have both agreed to. Please always read contracts/terms and conditions fully, and query anything you’re not sure about.

5. Location Location Location

Most wedding photographers work with local clients and shoot on locations close to their homes. For example, I’m based in Central Scotland and if all you could see in my portfolio were white sandy beaches from Florida or the Bahamas and no local landscape or venues. You would have to ask the question: “why have no local couples ever hired this photographer?”

You should at least expect to see some local landmarks or venues in your area if you are looking to hire a local wedding photographer. There might be legitimate reasons as to why there are no portfolio images from your area. So, when in doubt, ask questions. Legitimate business owners would not see a problem in providing you with a reasonable explanation.

6. Venue Information

If the wedding photographer you are looking at has photographed at as many weddings as claimed on their website. He or she should not have a problem naming a few of the most recent venues he or she worked on. Most photographers spend between 4 – 10 hours on location, so would be difficult to forget it. You could even go ask your chosen venue (if it is one the photographer has been to) for an impartial opinion.

Having done your homework

Most scammers are looking for a quick “hit and run” before they are detected and shut down by authorities. They don’t usually spend years laying down their scam. In many cases, they are often sloppy and can be easily spotted if you know what to look for.

Finally, please, please, please take out wedding insurance!  Considering how much we all pay for one day this is a simple and cheap way to protect yourself. Use comparison websites to find the best deal for you with policies starting from as little as £20. Then even if you have done all your homework and have been let down for whatever reason, you will at least have something to help you through this time as you change plans and work around the situation. For example, think of all the dress shops that have gone bankrupt recently.

As my gran always used to say if it feels too good to be true than it probably is. Let’s be honest most of us are good people and just want to do the best we can. It’s a shame the 0.0001% of people wreck it for others. Never ever feel pushed into a decision and always ask questions. All legitimate businesses will be more than happy to answer your queries.

Happy Planning!
Jenny @ JB Moments Photography

JB Moments Photography - Scottish Wedding Photographer

What makes good Customer Service? Part 3

Good Morning!

Time for the third and final part of my article on Customer Service. If you missed part one on Listening or part two on Responding you can catch up using the links.

The final part of this series is to Delight 😍. You’ve listened and responded now to set you apart from the competition you need to DELIGHT your customers.

So how do you delight your customers? What does ‘going the extra mile’ often spouted out by well-meaning training companies mean?

For me it means a few things. Each one alone is maybe okay but put them all together and WOW – Butterscotch Angel Delight with chopped bananas! 🍨

Under promise and over deliver

take my wedding clients, I always manage expectations when I leave the reception that a sneak peek will be on social media in a few days and their online gallery will be available within 4 weeks. Then I work my socks off and get sneak peeks up the day after the wedding, email the new couple a bespoke slideshow and get their gallery delivered in a mobile-friendly format before they get back from their honeymoon. 🏝️

Surprise!

Every client gets a surprise free gift when their images are delivered. I’m not going to tell you what they are here (that would ruin the surprise – doh!) but when they are opened people seem genuinely delighted. Happy customers, happy business owner…result. 🎁

Experience

The experience doesn’t end once the customer has paid their money. If you are passionate about your business, care and attention must go into every step of the experience. I want each of my clients to feel special from the moment they look at my beautifully designed website (thank you Kuka Studios); inquire and use my online contract, info, and payment facility (I have invested in a decent software system – thank you Light Blue Software); Preparation guidelines that are thoughtfully written to help clients have the best possible shoot experience; the gorgeous packaging and USB sticks the images are delivered in, and of course the gift and after sales care. 😍

So there you have it, that’s my take on how to give customers great service.

What makes good Customer Service? Part 2

Well hello there, time for part two of my article on Customer Service.

Part one focused on listening (or as one of my former colleagues called it “two ears, one mouth”)! Today I’m focussing on the second of the three things I think are crucial for exceptional customer service – Responding.

What do I mean by ‘Responding”? – Well having listened to what your customers are telling or asking you, how you respond is what they’ll notice next.

A kinda no-brainer, but I’m going to mention it anyway, is responding promptly. Even if it’s just a holding message. We’ve all been infuriated by suppliers who don’t call back or take ages to reply – don’t be like them!

Likewise, do what you promise and keep people informed if it’s going to take a bit longer than you thought.

When responding to customers remembering important details (or better yet little details) they have told you will show them you care (and if you’ve been actively listening and asking clarifying questions, this should be easy😉)

Finally, demonstrate that you love what you do in every interaction with your customers. It’s infectious 😃 On a similar vein, whether it is the first customer of the day or the last – treating them all with the same level of enthusiasm will help them to feel special and believe in you and what you are offering. 😍😍😍

The third and final part on delighting customers will be coming soon.

What makes good Customer Service? – Part 1

This is part one of a three-part article on Customer Service. As in great customer service, the sort of service that knocks your socks clean off!

In my previous career in the Financial Services, I was sent on lots of courses about customer service…some good, some bad and some downright ugly! When you work for a large organisation that offers broadly the same services as all its competitors – how you treat your customers can be the one thing that sets you apart from the crowd. As a member of Head Office staff, I often felt very removed from the ‘actual’ customers that we all worked for. Now I run my own business my customer is EVERYTHING!!

In my humble opinion, knock your socks off customer service boils down to three key components; Listen, Respond and Delight. As this article is in three parts (it’s like I planned it!!) I’m going to start with Listening.

Pet Photography - JB Moments Photography
Do my ears look big in this?

Active listening is a skill (those who used to work for me will be rolling their eyes now if they are reading this, as I used to go on about it ALL THE TIME!!). If you are not paying attention to your boss, your significant other, or your kids when they are speaking to you, how are they supposed to take you seriously? How can you expect them to come to you for advice, or to share important stuff? If my customer is telling me about a particular person they want a photograph with at their wedding and I’m not actively listening…I can’t go back and capture that moment at a later date, can I?

Sitting and making eye-contact with the person talking to you is a start, but are you really absorbing what they are saying? More importantly, are you responding in a way that communicates you are actually listening? Okay, it’s true – you are unlikely to care about every conversation someone starts with you…but the point is…whilst the topic being discussed isn’t important to you, IT IS to the person telling you. Active listening shows you care.

Okay, you might be thinking, I’ll nod along or add the odd “I see”, “Mmhmm” or “cool”, that will show I’m listening, right? Well,…they aren’t exactly active phrases. In fact, they are more likely to be interpreted as passive listening and the person will come away thinking you’ve heard them, but probably don’t care. Unlikely to elicit a warm fuzzy feeling from your customer either (at this point their socks are still firmly on!).

Here are some phrases that you can incorporate into conversations to show you are actively listening. Keep them in mind the next time you feel your attention starts to drift, an alert pops up on your phone, or you start thinking ahead to what you’re going to say.

“Do you mean…?”, “I’m not sure I understand.”, or “Could you tell me a bit more about that?” – These types of phrases make sure you are interpreting what the person has said correctly. They also help the person to open up and ensure you get the full story.

“It sounds like…”, “what I’m hearing is…” or “you seem a bit…” – Phrases like these demonstrate empathy and an attempt to interpret the person’s emotions.

“Really?”, “When?”, “How?”, or “You’re kidding.” – This helps to encourage the person speaking to elaborate more.

“I’ve noticed that…” – This shows the person how much attention you’re paying. You’re not just hearing the words they are saying you are seeing the non-verbal communication too.

“Let me make sure I’ve got this right” or “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly” – summarising what you’ve heard so far is a great way to show you’ve been paying attention and to check understanding.

“I’m sorry. That’s awful”, “what a crappy situation to be in”, or “That’s rough. How can I help?” – Here you are acknowledging the person wants a quick pity party before launching straight into advice. You’re pausing to provide empathy and allow the person to work through what is bothering them.

Okay, I’ll stop now as you are probably thinking ‘holy s&it I have enough on my plate without having to do all this guff as well!’. But from a customer’s shoes…I reckon being listened, really listened to must be pretty high up on their socks being knocked off list!

If you want to see if you are a good listener – HubSpot has a great quiz that is a two-minute read, (they also have a much longer, more comprehensive article on Active Listening if you are interested – it’s where I got a lot of my inspiration for this piece from!).

Part two on Responding to customers will be coming soon.