Building Rapport with your Clients

Top 11 steps to best connect with your customers from an expert photographer

Recently we had the privilege of interviewing Mark Duffus from MD Photography about the importance of connecting with your clients and the system he’s devised to ensure that occurs every single time. 

Without clients, none of us would have a business, team or product / service so it makes sense to systemise the process and provide a high quality experience for all your clients with every interaction no matter who in your team it’s with or how big or small it is.

Whilst Mark uses the following 11 steps to connect with his customers in his photography business, the steps are extremely relevant to all businesses in any industry.


Start with the Customer

Step 1. Research your customers

Each one of us and our businesses are individually unique which means that we like different things, think and behave in different ways and need to be interacted with accordingly.  In this day and age where our entire lives and businesses are present on social media, it is very easy to take 10 min prior to meeting a new o(OR existing) customer and do a quick search.  See what they like, the sorts of things they post / share, activities / events they attend and how they talk. 

Step 2. Understand your customers

By researching your customers, this will help you to understand them better prior to your meeting/s.  During your time together, you can then tailor questions to start an open and honest connection. You can tailor the way you talk with them and the types of things you talk about.

Step 3. Learn their story

Before, during and after meeting with them, ask lots of questions and learn their story.  Where did they come from? What challenges are they facing? How do they deal with challenges and move forward?  What makes them happy? Why are they wanting your product / service? What purpose will it serve in their life or business?  If you’ve ever connected with Krystle or KCS, you will know first hand that we have a big belief in understanding “The Why” so we can tailor our interactions to suit each and every one of our customers.


Take them on a Journey

Step 4. Understand social awareness

Take time to read the news (And social media) regularly and take an active interest in what’s going on in the world around you either locally, nationally or internationally.  This will provide another form of content to interact with your customers about and continue to build the open and honest connection. Just be aware of having a strong opinion or getting into heated topics, remember they are there to connect with your product / service, not your opinions.

Step 5. Common ground creates comfort-ability

Now you know their story and what’s going on in the world, you can utilise the best parts to connect on common ground and continue building the rapport.  When you truly connect with someone, you are endearing a sense of goodwill which will go far to get them comfortable and saying yes to your product / service.

Step 6. Communicate to develop trust

Steps 1-5 have provided a space for you to communicate honestly and sincerely, be open to feedback and most importantly make your actions match your words.  Frequent, honest communication builds trust, one interaction at a time, one day at a time so that by the time your customer is ready for your product / service, their only response is “ Hell Yes”.  By now, your connection should be quite strong and steps 7-11 are cementing that connection for a long term connection with you and your business.


Connect with them

Step 7. Bring attention to certain behaviors

Did your Mum ever tell you that it’s “Not what you say, it’s how you say it”?  When you build a solid connection with your customers, you can provide open and honest feedback and guide them on how best to interact with your product / service.  Mark said that a lot of clients being photographed exhibit signs of nervousness and anxiety because they are being taken out of their comfort zone and don’t know how they should be behaving.  When he kindly brings that to their attention and guides them on how to relax, they instantly respond and start enjoying the experience which allows him to create authentic images. Is your product / service out of your customers comfort zone and therefore creating feelings that exhibit as challenges when you are connecting with them?

Step 8. Listen to respond, not to react

With your customers relaxed and at ease, it allows you to really listen to their wants and needs.  However, there is a subtle difference between reacting and responding to them;

  • Reacting means you are just providing information that you think your customer wants to hear which is generally incorrect and can lead to further challenges and frustrations
  • Responding means you have actually heard what your customer wants and needs and are providing information in line with that so they continue to connect and experience positively with your product / service

Are you 100% present when your customers are providing information so you can respond or are you already thinking about how to react with unaligned information?

Step 9. Don’t make assumptions

There is an old saying “When you Assume, you make an Ass out of U and Me… Whether you think you know your clients or not, whether they are new or have been with you for years, always ask questions, get confirmation and respond accordingly.  Making assumptions about what you think your customers want or need will only lead to unhappy customers who eventually trade your product / service with one that really connects with them.


Connect with your Business

Step 10. Niche your target market

You can’t be everything to everyone even though we all want to be!  By selecting a niche target market, it will allow you to deeply understand your customers true wants and needs and align your product / service to uniquely solve their challenges.  Each target market has their own challenges and by knowing them intimately will give you an edge on your competitors and also builds loyalty and rapport with your customers even before they know they want or need your product / service.

Step 11. Treat your customers like new every time

It is infinitely harder to find new customers then it is to keep ones who you already have built rapport with.  Steps 1-6 build that rapport whilst steps 7-10 cement that rapport and create brand loyalty. By treating your customers like new every time, it means you will know them intimately, respond to their true needs, never make assumptions, make them feel special and ultimately build a loyal tribe.  The brand Tiffany & Co does this well, no matter how much money you spend, which jewelry you desire, every experience is wrapped in pure perfection because they know their target market and treat them like new every single time.

These 11 steps are tried and tested by Mark to ensure the images he’s capturing when photographing a customer no matter who they are or why they want his services over the hundreds of other photographers out there are authentic and unique.  By creating a solid connection from the very beginning, he knows that he’s providing a service that’s also authentic and unique for MD Photography. Do you have a system for connecting with your customers or do you need to take some time to take a look and 100% ensure you are building rapport with them even before they become a client?

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February 16, 2020 2:45 pm

Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂