For the past few days I’ve been talking about everything that goes into building a brand. The word the keeps recurring in this conversation has been “experience.” When you think about the companies whose products, services and/or locations you use or visit the most, your experience with those companies is at the core of their brand.
Today I want to cover some simple decisions and actions that we as visual artists should consider if we desire to create a rewarding brand experience for our clients.
- Communication: how do you email clients and leads when they contact you? Are you friendly or formal? Do you make a point to follow up with inquiries in a timely manner? I have a standard reply I use for inquiries that I customize to fit the inquiry. I do this to make sure I’m asking all the right questions up front.
- Customer Service: do you go out of your way to provide stellar customer service? Do you give a little more than what the client pays for? Do you ever surprise them with little extras (e.g. extra DVDs or Blu-ray discs; fun outtakes videos; mobile device versions; etc.) How do you handle disagreements? How do you respond if something goes wrong and it severely affects the client’s project? I always give my clients some thing extra. For a recent client I edited a hilarious outtakes video that was almost as big a hit as the main video we created for them. For another long-term and loyal client (who’s invested a lot in our services over the past few years), a recent miscommunication resulted in me needing to send a shooter out a second time. Even though I technically had a case for charging the client for the first shoot, once I heard her story, I didn’t hesitate to send another shoot out for a second shoot and eat the costs of the first shooter. (To this day I’m shocked when I hear of companies that risk losing thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars of revenue from a client over an issue that maybe would cost them fifty to a hundred bucks. And for the record, I understand the importance of not setting a dangerous precedent, but the best precedent you can set is one that makes your clients LOVE you and become raving fans. How you handle mishaps is often a greater impact on your brand than when things go well.
- Project Management: how do you manage the project, keeping track of schedules, correspondence, feedback, pre-production, etc.? Is everything centralized in one system (e.g. Basecamp, Asana, Trello, etc.)? If so, how easy or difficult have you made it for your clients to use that system? How do you handle it if they refuse to use the system? Do you require them to use it, or work within whatever boundaries make them comfortable? If the former, to what lengths do you go to help them use and understand your PM system? I’m a huge fan of Asana. I don’t usually use it for smaller or simpler jobs, but for the ones larger in scope, it’s a very effective tool for keeping track of everything. And I’ve created an email template I send to my clients introducing them to it that includes links to a “Getting started” tutorial video. But if a client doesn’t want to use it, I don’t force them too. I can still use the PM tools of Asana in conjunction with regular email.
- On Set: what is the experience of you (and if applicable, your crew) when on set? Is it carefree and fun? Is your set like a well-oiled machine? Are your crew members a positive reflection of your company? If you shoot weddings, are you the kind of person a bride and groom and their families like to hang out with all day? If you’re directing a large commercial shoot, how do you interact with clients in the video village? I think I’m a pretty fun-loving and gregarious kind of guy, so I always make sure my clients enjoy the experience of a Dare Dreamer Media set. When interviewing people who are clearly nervous, I do what I can to make them feel comfortable. I’ll often start an interview with small idle chit-chat (camera’s rolling of course). Many times soundbites I get from those conversations can make their way into the final video.
- Reviewing your work: when you deliver your photos or video for the client to review, what is that experience like? How easy or difficult is it for your clients (and any other stakeholders) to see and review the work? Do you use a video social media site like Vimeo or YouTube, or are you using a collaboration service like Wipster or Frame.io? I’ve started using both Wipster and Frame.io (alternating between the services on different jobs). I love the time code based commenting system each offers. There are pluses and minuses to each. I’m contemplating doing a comparison review.
- Delivery: how do you deliver your final product? If you’re delivering a physical disc, how do you package it? If it’s strictly a video file, how do you send them the file? (e.g. High Tale, Vimeo download, a branded download site)? Just about all of the work I do is for the web, so the final product to my clients is a video file, usually delivered by Hightail. But Wipster and Frame.io allows for client download too. But a key part of the service I offer includes helping my clients distribute their video. I like to say, “We not only make you a great looking video, we help you get it seen.” That may include helping them set up a YouTube channel, getting on Vimeo Pro or Wistia, and/or developing a roll-out and distribution strategy.
- Quality: last and certainly not least, do you deliver on the quality expectations the client has? I like to think that we do. The repeat business and accolades our clients share with me suggests we are. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow. I’m always working to improve both the work and the service we provide our clients.
What are some of the ways you work to deliver excellent experiences to your clients?