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A Tale About Customer Service…

November 6, 2010

Scott Kelby, on his blog this morning, posted a story regarding an experience with US Airways.  Mr. Kelby tells the story better than I so I will let him.  Short ending is that US Airway’s unbending representative cost the company far more both directly in sales and in public goodwill than the $300 fee they were trying to extract from him to reinstate his frequent flier miles.  As I’m writing this there are over 300 comments to this story, 98% of which are blasts at US Airways about poor service received, bags lost, etc.  Free publicity is not always a good thing…

So what does this have to do with photography?  For those of us who are actively engaged in this craft to make money, whether as a profession or as a way to pay for our habit, how we treat people means the difference between frequent sales or possibly no sales at all.  A phrase heard often in my chosen paying career is that often one “Oh Heck” (or something more colorful) will erase 100 “Good Jobs.”  This has never been so true as it is today with the free press that is the Internet.  People are far more likely to speak up about bad service than good service.

My good friend Bob Zeller is an example of how to do things right.  Like yours truly, he is also selling a calendar this year.  He does great work and I highly recommend picking up a copy.  As he says, he does business west Texas style–tell him you want the calendar, he’ll send it to you and when you get it you can send him a check.  He understands his audience and more importantly, treats people the same way he’d like to be treated.  He has people he’s traded with for years–customers who he’s done business with online, at art fairs, etc.  They keep coming back because he does great work and he treats folks right.

I have known other photographers who work in more or less our same basic subject area who don’t get it right.  They are the ones who moan and groan online about this and that and how the art fair circuit is no longer profitable and weddings aren’t as profitable and customers want too much and this and that.  The reality is that I’ve seen how they deal with customers and I hear how they deal with customers through their own words. Their work is great, but they don’t know how to treat folks.

Today’s market is saturated with photographers.  Great equipment, little to no cost to make images, and great tools to “develop” them has brought many photographers to the sales scene.  The difference between the prints made by good photographers and great ones narrows with each passing year.  What matters now and into the future is how we treat people and how we communicate with them.

So… treat customers the way you would want to be treated as a customer.  Heck, treat everybody the way you’d like to be treated in all ways–the world would be a nicer place if we all did.  And be thankful you’re not the ill-mannered, unbending customer service rep at US Airways who may be looking for a new job tonight.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 10:20 am

    Great article, Jim. Well said. And thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it.


  2. November 6, 2010 12:04 pm

    I added this new blog of yours to my blogroll.


    • November 6, 2010 2:38 pm

      You’re welcome, Bob and thank you for adding me to your blogroll.


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