Welcome to the world of chat bots for photography studios. The potential of this technology is huge, and it’s amazing how few photography studios have embraced it … yet.
In this post I’m going to show you just a few of the ways that you could utilise a bot to chat with your clients and to grow your studio too.
1) Don’t sweat the small stuff
Wouldn’t it be awesome if somebody else could answer client queries at absolutely any time of day or night, without distracting you when you’re trying to sleep, shoot a wedding or just take a few hours out to play with your kids.
That’s better for you and your clients, right?
If you could answer client queries quickly and consistently, 24/7, it’s inevitable that it would lead to more bookings and happier clients. And we all know that happy clients lead to better sales and more referrals to friends.
I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy, but chat bots aren’t as difficult to set up as you probably think. The most difficult part is getting the strategy right, and that’s what we can help with (while also making the techie stuff easy too), but this post isn’t about our course.
Most of the email or phone queries we get are about questions that we’ve answered a million times before, so we know the answers – imagine your clients could automatically get those answers in your words and when they’ve satisfied their query, be politely led by a Messenger bot to take the next step and book a shoot, a meeting or a call with you.
2) Be helpful
There was a time when people would happily exchange their email address for a useful, helpful piece of free content (e.g., “Our guide to planning the ultimate portrait session” or “5 questions to ask when you meet a wedding photographer”). You might know this as a lead magnet, and back when people read and replied to every email they received, lead magnets were great marketing tools. These days, more and more people are simply unwilling to add more clutter to their inbox and either don’t sign up at all or give you an email address they only check on special occasions. However, there’s still a way to use the same strategy successfully.
If you offer to send that same content via Messenger (automagically of course), you don’t need their email address. The content gets sent directly to their Messenger inbox, and any questions the client has after reading your content come directly into yours.
You’re instantly connected to each other and there are some strong anti-spam protections for the customer, so they feel safer to engage with you, knowing that they can dis-engage at any time they choose. It’s therefore very natural to follow up with questions and conversation from there, and your bot can do that for you automatically. If you’re planning to spam people relentlessly for years, email is your best bet, but for genuine conversation, Messenger is far more effective.
3) Build excitement
In the leadup to any shoot, your customers will often have questions, like:
- what time does the shoot start?
- where are we meeting?
- do we need to bring anything?
- what if it rains?
- what should I wear?
By providing easy-to-understand answers to these questions before the client even asks, you’re demonstrating your professionalism and experience, re-enforcing their great decision in hiring you for this shoot!
This is also a great time to give your client some information about the process after the session and how your pricing works, to make sure that there can be no misunderstandings about any of this after the session. Ideally, this will just be a re-cap of info you’ve already provided, but we all live busy lives, and it’s easy for a client to forget something you mentioned when they initially booked the shoot with you.
Initially, we saw huge improvements in our average sales when we started to send helpful info to customers and answer these questions in the days and weeks before their shoot. But as our customers gradually stop checking their email inboxes, it’s getting less effective.
The good news is that the same info can be sent via your Messenger bot in a much more interactive way, where it will get read, replied to and referenced again later. You’ll know it’s working when your customers are quoting your messages to you (“You mentioned that there are collages available from $700. They sound perfect, can I have a look at some?”).
4) Choose the best customers to work with
We’ve done a LOT of experimentation with this, and it feels like we’ve hit upon a winning formula.
Now, whenever we run a promotion, we ask potential customers a series of questions and automatically choose those people who’ll enjoy and value the experience the most. Along the way, our chat bot also explains what it will be like working with us, gives some indicative pricing and generally leaves the customer feeling great about their upcoming portrait session. This process ensures that the time we spend with clients is more enjoyable right from the first phone call through to the shoot and the sales session, because we’re well-matched to each other.
The best way to explain this process is to show you an example. Click the link at the bottom of this page and you’ll be able to experience all of this from a customer’s perspective. Our clients tell us it’s like playing a little computer game – they love it.
5) Manual follow-ups
One of the best things about having an automagical chat bot in your photography studio is actually that it makes it much easier to chat ‘manually’ with your customers.
Here’s why – every person who interacts with your chatbot automatically becomes a ‘subscriber’ to your business in Messenger. Think of this like facebook giving your business permission to contact somebody. We use this permission to send automatic messages like I’ve described above, but the manual ones can’t be overlooked either.
There are times in any photography studio where it’s helpful to have a fast, easy channel of communication with your customers, and your chat bot gives you one that you simply don’t have access to otherwise. We’ve written a whole blog post about this, but here’s just a few examples of ways that we use messenger to provide better customer service to our clients:
- Quickly checking production and delivery details for framed prints, albums etc,
- Coordinating the shoot (e.g., “Hi, I’ve arrived. I’m at the carpark near the pier. See you there!” or “Sorry, I’m stuck in traffic. See you in 10 minutes”)
- Confirming meeting or call times to reduce no-shows
- Clients send photos of their clothing before a shoot so that we can help them decide on an outfit,
- After the shoot, we ask them to send photos of their walls, so that we can design artwork which suits their decor perfectly. All of this is done on Messenger.
Whatever it is, Messenger will get these messages to your clients much faster than email. It’s as fast as a phone call, but doesn’t interrupt your client’s day, and because you’re making it easy for them, they’re likely to reply quickly.
If you’re thinking it sounds good but it’s all too hard, we’re here to help. You don’t need to be a programmer to set this stuff up, and our video course will guide you through every step to get your chat bot working for your studio.
You’ll even get a set of our templates to make it extremely easy to get started. These have been built for and used successfully in our own studio.
First though, check out some of our examples by clicking on the link below to see if this would work for your studio.
About the author
Owner and primary photographer at Hugster Family Photography, Iain and Jo | We Tell Love Stories and Kuvata Business Images. Based in Melbourne, Australia, talks too much and almost entirely closes his eyes when he smiles.
Thinking of setting up a chatbot?
Thinking of setting up a chatbot?
To see lots of examples of how a chatbot can help your photography studio save time, or to enquire about our training course and installable chat sequences, just click "Send to Messenger" and then choose an automated chat to play with. Or ask us anything at all.
It's free, and kinda fun. What have you got to lose?