As photographers, we talk about sending out pre-session questionnaires and preparing our clients before their sessions. But what about after the session is complete and the photos are delivered? How many of us actually follow up with our clients to see how we did and if we met their expectations? As business owners, we are missing a huge opportunity for growth if we’re not collecting this valuable client feedback through exit surveys. 

I’m constantly getting exit surveys from service businesses I use. This is what got me thinking that I should be doing the same with my photography clients. So, I sat down and put together my own exit survey and I’m so glad I did. I can tell you from experience that it’s not all going to be sunshine and roses — it will sting to read criticism — but ultimately, client feedback will make your business so much stronger. Here’s how:

1. Exit surveys allow you a second chance to wow your clients.

We all have off days. Sometimes we get a client that we just don’t vibe with and things don’t go so great. Or maybe we didn’t provide our usual level of service. It happens. In this case, the exit survey can get things out in the open and allow you to use the client’s feedback to go back and wow them.

If you’d like to work with the client again, provide personal follow-up after the exit survey. Thank them for taking the time to fill it out and let them know how much you appreciated them coming to you for photos. Send them a handwritten note with a small print from their session. It’s the little things that can turn a mediocre experience into a great one.

There’s always the possibility that you’ll find out through the exit survey that those feelings of doubt were all in your head and the client actually had a lovely experience.

A family plays on a bed

2. Client feedback can help you fix potential problems.

Client feedback is so useful in pointing out areas of our businesses that could use improvement. The first time I received disappointing feedback, it helped me realize that I wasn’t doing a great job of explaining my pricing structure. The client said she was frustrated and confused by the way things were set up and she didn’t realize it would be such a big investment to get everything she wanted.

“The photos were great — absolutely professional quality with a wide selection that we genuinely loved. The pricing scheme was a little hard to understand and my husband and I had a LOT of sticker shock once we realized how much this session cost us. Upfront pricing packages or more affordable package options would be the number one reason I would book again in the future.”

Before I read this comment in a client exit survey, I really had no idea that my pricing was too complicated. This feedback helped me understand that I needed to better educate my clients on what they could expect to spend. It also led me to simplify my pricing structure. This one honest client helped me improve things for all of my future clients. 

The exit survey can also reveal a client pain point that you may not have realized you were neglecting. One of my clients mentioned in the survey that she wished I had offered clearer guidance on what to wear before her session. At the time, I was sending my clients Pinterest boards to guide them through what to wear. I didn’t realize that this was overwhelming and not as helpful as I thought. Now I send my clients a link to a styling service that walks them through creating outfits that coordinate and look great in photos. Because I asked for client feedback, I was able to make an important change that doesn’t cost me any more time than it was taking to send over my Pinterest boards. Win!

Using client feedback to improve your business

3. Reviews and testimonials drive new business.

Mini testimonials are a great way to punch up your website and marketing materials. Sometimes you just need a little snippet to drive home what a fantastic photographer you are. The popularity of review websites proves that potential clients want to hear what other people have to say about you, so why not give the people what they want?

One of my exit survey questions asks what clients would tell their friends about my business. This is a great prompt to get natural-sounding tidbits that you can weave through your website. Here’s an example:

“Maryam came into our home on a typical Saturday morning and captured our family perfectly. What was so cool was that she stealthily worked around us, let us be us and laughed with us. When she shared the photo gallery with us less than two weeks after our session, we opened it and immediately laughed and teared up. If you want to capture real, honest moments and memories of everyday life with your family — hire her!”

Using client feedback to improve your business

Pro Tip: Ask for reviews, be rewarded with an SEO boost!

Once my clients have submitted their exit surveys, they get a thank-you page that links to the places they can leave a review of my business, like Facebook and Google. Making this process as easy as possible for my clients has increased my number of reviews. This is so worth my time because anytime someone leaves a Google review it boosts my SEO. If that’s not a good enough reason to ask for a review, I don’t know what is.

Using client feedback to improve your business

4. Positive client feedback fuels your confidence.

Y’all, I’m not going to lie, it feels really great to hear how awesome you are. Even when we know we’re good, it’s always nice to hear that our clients agree, am I right? If I ever start to feel that little comparison monster whispering in my ear, I pull up a few of my client surveys and read about how I’m making photographs that families will cherish for the rest of their lives.

Tell me you wouldn’t love to read this client feedback over and over:

“I’ve watched the slide show about half a dozen times and when [my husband] saw it he was so impressed and glad we did the session. He looked at me and said, “this is life.” Honestly, it gave me an appreciation for what we have. I’m so grateful. Thank you!”

Using client feedback to improve your business

How to easily set up a client exit survey

You might be thinking, “I have so much on my plate! How do I even set this up? And how can I possibly fit this into my schedule?” For real, you can literally set this up in 10 minutes. Then, you just tack it onto the end of your personal workflow. I use Honeybook to manage my clients and I have it set up to automatically send the survey once I mark a client project complete. I don’t even have to think about it!

To create and send your survey, you could use Google Forms, Typeforms, Survey Monkey or any of the many free survey tools out there. 

I keep my questions super simple: I ask what led the client to book me (price, style, personality, etc.), how thrilled they were with their experience, and what they’d tell a friend about their experience with me. Lastly, I ask if they’d like to receive my newsletter and I leave a space for additional comments or suggestions. That’s it! 

Pro Tip: Offer an incentive

I know from personal experience that I don’t respond to exit surveys unless I’m going to get something out of it (or if the service was exceptionally good or bad), so I decided to sweeten the pot and give my clients a little incentive. When they complete the exit survey, my clients get a code for $100 towards purchasing something from their current gallery or towards a future session.

It really is super simple to set up an exit survey, and our businesses really benefit from client feedback. It’s a real confidence booster to read those glowing reviews, but equally valuable for identifying potential issues. You just might learn something about yourself or your photography business that you didn’t know!

All photos by Maryam Salassi

More business advice from the pros

Running a photography business is hard! Trust us, we know! But it’s also a labor of love and we know you want your business to be the best it can be. Here are some great tips and advice from pro photographers who’ve been there: