Sometimes life happens, and you get behind on editing. That might mean late image deliveries! I have helped photographers in this same situation, so here are some strategies! I recently was helping a client who was SIX months late delivering images. This person had gotten themself in a situation and needed to get out of it. So I was there to help him manage this crisis and wanted to share some of the tips that I shared to help him.
Add Wiggle Room
Set yourself up for success and add a few weeks to your promised delivery time. If you are promising photos in six weeks make that date close to 8-10 weeks. My delivery is for 12-15 weeks. This has allowed me wiggle room over the years for life’s unexpected moments and when the season gets super busy.
This year I managed to have a baby and still deliver photos within the promised timeframe because of that wiggle room. Your personal deadline should be BEFORE this buffer deadline your clients are expecting.
What To Do With Late Images
First, contact your client NOW with an update. Like RIGHT THIS SECOND. If you have been burying your head in the sand and avoiding contact because you are embarrassed of your tardiness – this is the time to head the problem right here right now. A personal phone call is best when it comes to late image deliveries. But, if you just can’t bring yourself to this, an email with do.
In the email to the client:
1. Say hello and put their fears at ease – when you are late delivering, clients fear that you may be lost the photos or they didn’t turn out good. Their brains can go wild with fears. Put these to rest by reassuring them the photos are safe and look beautiful.
2. Acknowledge the problem.
4. Set expectations – set a date when they will be done (and then you better deliver 2 days before that!)
5. Offer a thank you remedy for their patience. This could be prints, more album spreads, etc. This doesn’t have to be defined right now. You can even just say you are going to make sure they are taken care of.
6. Listen if they are upset, and let them know you hear them and apologize again. Listen, apologize, state how you plan to fix it …. repeat.
7. Repeat that you will be in touch on x date
Time to handle late image deliveries
Then my friend – GET TO WORK. You have got to get this done. And you have to have it done BEFORE the deadline you set.
Once they are done and delivered – you need to surprise them a special something. Send some unexpected prints to their doorstep or offer to send prints to the parents. One or two portraits and the family photo usually does the job. Something that can be in their hands super quick.
From here on out… you respond to every email within the same day – immediately if possible. And you go above and beyond in your customer service experience. If they ordered an album – get the design done ASAP. Or offer print credit or discount code. You are on damage control but it’s possible to bring this situation back around and having your clients love you and their experience.