While I like to think I do as much for my clients as I possibly can (and sometimes think I should be doing so much more), I learnt a little something this past weekend. A friend and I went to the local pet expo – The World of Cats and Dogs – and spent most of the day wandering around, saying hello to furry friendly faces and trying not to adopt a pet from every single shelter there! Most of the stands were animal food companies, animal shelters, toys and accessories and breeders.
There was one stand, however, that caught my eye – a local photographer. Now, I’m not sure if she actually takes the photos herself, or just personalises items with the photos provided. I asked her some questions, and when I asked if she can organise delivery, she said no. Perplexed, I asked where we stayed. Well, she works on one side of the city, and lives on the other. If I want to buy something from her, I need to go all the way to her – and in Johannesburg, that’s not cheap thanks to petrol, car maintenance and E-Tolls. I smiled, thanked her and walked away. But the thought lingered in my mind.
The fact that she wouldn’t make an effort to get her product to me (not even half way) had put me off using her services. As a designer and a photographer, I make every effort to work with my clients. That means going to the other side of the city to meet them so they don’t have to travel far. That means working longer hours and paying for their coffee. That means phoning them or emailing them to check on them so they don’t have to stress about the small things. That means couriering their photos to them or dropping them off personally – once they’ve been wrapped up with a handwritten note in them. I ensure that every interaction is (usually) at their convenience, so that they can meet somewhere they are comfortable, or don’t have to travel far at the end of a workday, or worry about when their photos are going to arrive. I take all the weight so they can enjoy the experience. Why? Because I’m offering a service, and I want them to remember me as the person who went the extra mile.
I don’t find this a burden, in fact, I find it very rewarding. I once met a young lady who didn’t know Johannesburg very well, and I was happy to go to the other side of the city in peak out traffic just to meet her. She was so grateful because she was so worried about getting lost or getting stuck in traffic, and getting stressed out before meeting me. Instead, she found the place easily and we could have a relaxed and productive meeting. And all because I made the effort.
Could I have simplified it and done a meeting over Skype? Yes. I could’ve just told her to email me her questions and I’d reply. Sure. But that’s not how I work, and while I do find it nice and comfortable in my office, I know it’s good to push myself out of my happy space just so I can make others happy.
Next time you have the opportunity to make someone happy by going the extra mile, whether it’s paying for their coffee or dropping off business cards in person, just remember that your client will be grateful for that!