These days, with everyone and their mother — literally — wielding digital SLRs or iPhones all tricked out with photo editors and Instagram, you can’t just put up a backdrop and tell people to put a fist under their chins for that perfect shot. Everybody can be a photographer now…or so they think.
This means, of course, that professional photographers and the studios they run need to do more to provide above-and-beyond customer service and quality that keeps people coming back, instead of setting up makeshift studios in their living rooms. (This is especially true going into this holiday season, when budgets are tighter than ever.)
Implementing a mystery shopping program at your studio can be one way to gauge your chances of attracting those repeat customers — and how you may be able to improve the odds going forward.
When you hire a company that specializes in mystery shopping, they’ll send a specially trained mystery shopper to visit your studio and go through all the motions of a normal customer, but they’ll come prepared to meticulously document their visit. Afterward, the mystery shopper will compile a report that will show you the strengths and weaknesses of your business.
It may benefit you to choose shoppers from the motherly demographic — they’re likely the ones who will be making the final studio decision for their family’s photos. Consider having mystery shoppers look for things like:
- What sorts of packages does your studio offer?
- Are those packages a good value?
- What’s the appointment making process like? Is there flexibility in studio hours and times available?
- Is there a reception staff? Are they friendly and courteous?
- How well do your photographers interact with subjects, especially children?
- What shape is the studio in? The equipment?
- Is the environment conducive to making memories?
- What’s the proofing and final approval process like? How is turnaround time for photos?
A mystery shopping program of this type will be less based on metrics and quantifiable data points, and more on a feeling. After all, mothers and families will be judging your studio just as much on how you make them feel as how your photos look in the end. You’re not just taking photos; you’re making memories!