Making sure that we’re fully aware of our clients needs and expectations is something that has always been really important to us. We’ve never had an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Instead, we like to be progressive. We keep our core values the same but use feedback to help us tailor other aspects of our business to best suit our couples. We understand that couples wants and needs will change over time.
Awards feedback from clients
For the last couple of years we’ve participated in The wedding industry awards. As part of the entry process couples rate you anonymously. They provide written feedback on the service you provided for them. Reading the comments at the end of the process is always helpful. It allows you to see what clients have said and see how they scored you on certain factors. Some of these factors include things such as pricing. Did they consider you to be good value for money, for example.
This year, we’ve entered TWIA again, but we wanted to gain a bigger picture. A better understanding. Aside from the occasional price increase to reflect rising costs, it’s been a few years since we made any kind of major change to our business. As a result we decided that we wanted feedback to be more specific and to address what we consider to be key areas.
Why did clients book us?
One really important thing for us was to understand why couples booked us. What factors were they taking into consideration? Is it all about price, recommendations, convenience?
We also wanted to know how things could be improved. There is always room for improvement as far as we re concerned. We wanted to know the answers to things like how useful did clients actually find things like their USBs? Are they even relevant anymore? We wanted to collect a range of feedback and use the comments provided to really help us establish what our clients want, what they like. More importantly what they don’t like and how we can improve the service we offer moving forward.
So we decided to take action. We created an in depth questionnaire that asked our couples everything from how they found us initially, to why they booked. We asked about the booking process and what products or services they would like to see introduced too. For us, it was about trying to establish their over all level of satisfaction with what we are currently offering, vs what they would have liked us to offer in an ideal world.
Note: Information is correct as of October 25th, 2017 when the results were collated.
We shared the link to the questionnaire on our personal and business Facebook accounts as well as our instagram page. The posts privacy settings were set so that only previous clients could view the posts or access the questionnaire URL. This meant that well meaning family, friends or other suppliers couldn’t fill in the form.
Clients were also given the option to submit their forms anonymously. We did not aim to collect any identifying data. We thought this would be the best way to ensure that feedback received was genuine and honest.
Things started out fairly simply. We asked respondents to let us know how they found out about us originally.
It turns out a third of couples found us originally through social media. That’s Facebook and Instagram mainly. We knew a few people had found us that way over the years as they’d mentioned it in their initial enquiry, but we had no idea it was such a high percentage.
Around a quarter of couples found us whilst searching google.
Around a quarter found us as a result of a referral (from a friend, family member, their venue or another supplier.) We have broken this down further for our own information, but to keep it simple we lumped in referrals all together.
The remaining 17% (ish) all found us in random ways- blogs or magazine features or via The Wedding Industry awards for example.
This is a huge turn around from when we first started out. When we were first starting out pretty much all of our bookings came exclusively from recommendations. However, back then we simply didn’t get the same volume of enquires that we do today. Due to the sheer volume of enquiries we receive now, whenever we get an enquiry from someone who’s come to us as a recommendation we seem to be already booked. So the results could well be very different if we were actually available for all of the dates we need to turn away.
Why did couples book us?
There were 23 different reasons given for why people booked us. Their reasons ranged from seemingly obvious things like pricing, through to not so obvious factors. Some of the not to obvious things included responses such as us being around the same age as them or the fact that a female photographer was available.
The top 3 reasons however were as follows:
Quality of the photos
We seemed nice
That was mind blowing for us. Although we realise that first impressions are important, we didn’t realise HOW important. For our couples, the fact that we seemed nice was just as important to them as the quality of the photos. Almost every single response listed the quality and the fact we seemed nice as one of their top 3 reasons for choosing us.
In second place was the style of our work. To our couples the way we worked was super important. Our relaxed, documentary style coverage was a big factor in why they booked us. For more than half of respondents, it was a top 3 reason they booked.
In third place is the fact that there are two of us as standard. For most of our couples having two photographers was part of the reason they booked. In fact two thirds of couples were specifically looking for two photographers from the very beginning. 50% listed it as a top 3 reason why they booked us. The other 50% said they loved our work so much that they would have booked us even if there had been just one of us, awww!
Money talk: Cost, price, value for money?
Surprisingly 66% of our couples said we were one of the CHEAPEST photographers they considered. Only one couple reported that we were the most expensive photographer they looked at. This was news to us as we’d always believed that we were on the more expensive side with our pricing. “Definitely cheaper than other photographers of the same style” was one stand out comment.
This caused us to take a step back and look at the industry as a whole. We have never been big followers of others work and pricing isn’t something we’ve ever consciously tried to keep in line with others. We have always based our pricing on our outgoing costs and what we feel is fair for our work. Apparently, that’s something we’ve got wrong and we’re falling behind our peers in this sense. We didn’t even really realise until receiving this feedback how much the industry has progressed. When we were starting out, a decent entry level photographer was about £800. Now a decent entry level photographer is around £1200+. So ultimately yes, perhaps we have been cheaper than our peers, unknowingly.
Sticking with money talk for a moment, every single respondent rated us as “good” or “very good” value for money.
Should this be embarrassing? I’ve become “known” for the quickness of my replies and my obsession with staying on top of emails and messages. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise really to see that everyone rated our efficiency of correspondence as “Excellent”. In addition to this, everyone who responded also rated the politeness and professionalism of correspondence as “Excellent” too. Pat on the back for me. Yay!
Quality of work
As a photographer, what you really want to know is how clients feel about the photos and the services which directly relate to delivery of the images. What are wait times like, for example. Are we delivering too many or too few images?
We’re pleased to say that when it came to rating the quality of photos, it was another full house. Every response rated the quality as “Excellent”. Phew! At least we seem to be getting that bit right.
Quantity Vs Quality
Something that has troubled us for the last few months though is how many photos to deliver. As the years have gone by, we’ve got better at what we do. We’ve invested in better equipment, improved our editing and workflow. The knock on effect of this has been more good photos taken at every wedding. More good photos has meant larger galleries. But can there ever be such thing as too many photos?
It’s a topic that seems to come up on photography groups often and it’s something people are quite vocal about. Some photographers are totally adamant that it isn’t possible to deliver more than 600 good, unique photos. Some will fight you to the death to prove that couples will never look at more than 450 images. Others shrug their shoulders (figuratively, this is the internet after all) and say they give 800ish.
Getting back to the point. One of the biggies for us was seeing how our couples felt about what we delivered. Ultimately, whilst it’s nice to know what other photographers are up to, we don’t really care (sorry!) as generally speaking, they aren’t the ones booking us. What matters to us is that our clients are happy with what we are doing. So we asked.
Only 1 couple reported that they felt the amount of images we delivered was overwhelming. Everyone one else said they believed the amount of images delivered was “about right for their wedding”. This made us feel more confident about what we deliver and made us realise that we should focus less on what other photographers are doing and more on what our couples want.
The waiting game
Another thing that causes photographer anxiety is delivery of the images. We know from our own wedding what an anxious/exciting wait this can be. Again this is something that causes much debate. Some photographers deliver in under a week and can’t understand what could possibly take longer. Others work on a 4 month turn around and are happy with that. So this is one question we were desperate to know the answer to.
Is the magic lost if it’s “too quick” and what is “too long”? On average, our delivery time is between 2 weeks and 4 weeks during summer, depending on how our bookings work out. If our turn around time starts creeping beyond 3 weeks anxiety sets in. Is there genuine cause for panic, or are we putting too much pressure on ourselves? Only one way to find out- we asked.
This year our longest wait has been 7 weeks due to an editing backlog. Surprisingly, every single couple, even the ones who’d had to wait a little longer than we would have liked said that they were “very satisfied” with the amount of time it took to receive their full gallery. Every single person also said they received their photos back quicker than they would have expected.
This was lovely to know as we put so much pressure on ourselves if we feel we have taken a little longer than usual.
Online galleries Vs USBs
As mentioned above, we received our own wedding photos back a couple of years ago. As is pretty standard now, we received a USB and an online gallery. Sorry, Alex, if you’re reading this, but we have literally never used our USB. It’s never even come out of the box! For us, having access to an online gallery is so much more convenient and we’ve never needed a USB with our photos on.
We suspected this may be the same for our couples, so we were interested to know their thoughts.
Of the couples who had received both an online gallery and a USB the vast majority had only ever used their online gallery. Given the choice of having the online gallery OR the USB every single person chose the online gallery. Not a single respondent said they would choose a USB as the primary method of delivery of their photos given the choice.
Over all, 92% of people said they would prefer to have their photos delivered via online gallery.
After the wedding: Products and additional services.
Another surprise for us was to see that more than 50% of couples said they would have liked to have an in person meeting with us AFTER their wedding to either view their photos or to view what products we had available- albums for example.
Knowing that over half of our couples would have liked to meet us again and discuss their options with albums and so on was a bit of a heart sinking moment. It feels like a failure on our part, for not keeping up with a demand that was obviously there. You never want to feel like you’re letting your couples down, but this felt like we’d let our couples down somewhat.
We analysed why this may be. First and foremost as much as we’re a business, we aren’t sales people. We hate being sold to, so we’ve always vowed that we’ll never be salesy or pushy. Perhaps there’s a line there that we’ve not even approached due to fear of crossing it. Perhaps, moving forward we need to be more forthcoming about products and learn how to cater for our couples within our (and their) comfort zones.
I think there’s also an element of it being a vicious circle too. We have never looked into the option of having a studio space to meet couples in because we don’t sell many products. We didn’t realise the demand was there. Because of this, it’s never seemed necessary or worthwhile. It’s rare that a couple ask us about purchasing products so we we don’t push or promote them because we didn’t think anyone was interested in them. But, as the results have shown, we probably don’t sell many products because we don’t promote them or invite couples to meet with us and discuss their options. Seems obvious when you put it like that, doesn’t it?
We also asked our couples if there was anything else they’d like to mention. Were there any other services they would like to see introduced for example. We didn’t really know where we were going with this, but we thought it was good to ask.
Lots of respondents mentioned the same thing: 1) Thank you cards and 2) maternity or family shoots. This was a bit of a surprise, but not totally unexpected. Thank you cards are something we’re now looking in to and we truly value that feedback. Again, we didn’t realise the demand would be quite so high.
With regards to the second point, this wasn’t a huge surprise as we have been approached several times about family photography in the past. The nature of wedding photography means that often our couples go on to start families, or expand the one they already have. We love the idea that couples would want to come back to us as their families grow. It’s hugely flattering that anyone would want us to be part of those incredible, important moments in their lives. We take every bit of feedback we receive on board. We discuss and process it before making decisions and we don’t make any decision lightly- especially when it comes to client satisfaction.
Choosing not to implement client feedback
Our decision always ultimately ends up the same however when it comes to family, newborn and maternity shoots. Weddings are our passion. They keep us on our toes. They’re varied and spontaneous and they push us creatively. We adore them and we’ve dedicated 7 years to perfecting our craft. We never want photography to become, or feel like a chore. As a couple who are very happily childfree ourselves other areas of photography just don’t light that fire in our belly. We would never embark on such an important task knowing that the passion isn’t there. It’s not something you can fake and every couple, every family deserve our best. As such we would always rather pass that work on to someone who is as passionate and committed to documenting family life as we are about weddings.
Whilst we truly do take feedback on board and consider it fully, we will be sticking to wedding photography and hope that our couples understand our reasons. We will instead endeavour to find a kickass family photographer who we trust and respect as a creative to capture those memories for you, so we can pass along their details.
Based on the feedback we have received, we are going to look to begin making some important changes in our business. We will continue to review our pricing frequently so we can ensure it is fair for both the service we deliver and consistent with our peers.
We will also look into how we deliver photographs and what offers the best service and value for money to our clients. Additionally we will research and investigate how we can best meet our clients needs post-wedding. Update: We are relocating! In 2019 we will have a studio space that clients can visit both pre and post wedding! Come and meet us, chat about your wedding and afterwards come and view your photos!
A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to participate and share your feedback. The information you have provided has been so incredibly valuable and we’re already making, what we hope will be positive changes.
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