Tag Archive for 'tips'

Excuses are Stupid – 5 Essentials to WINNING Customers with Service

 

Gavin preparing and adding initial to mounted 24 inch open editions in his gallery. Visit his website for details.

I’m Gavin Seim. Do you want you know my cell number? It’s 509-951-4860. I offer it because if a customer or even a colleague has a problem, I want it fixed. I’ve answered that phone while standing in the wilderness making images. Answered so I could tell someone how to install their LR presets or get their order. Because service matters.

I’ve been serving customers in retail since I was about 10. I’ve seen all the excuses. But I ignored them and made a commitment not to be the company that so many become. We’re human. But at Seim Studios we operate on service and quality. Whether we’re selling a portrait, a print, or one of our editing and education products for photographers.

Below is the principles of service from our website at Seim Effects. Everyone that works at Seim Studios is expected to follow it – Please use it in your business.

“Service is not something computers do for you. It’s not something from a book. It’s not a line in a policy manual. It’s not an excuse – Service means YOU raise a finger, a hand and sometimes even an arm, or a leg. You do the footwork, you look into the problem and you do your level best to find a way to resolve it and make customer happy. That’s service.”

What I’m about to say applies to ANY company of any size. No excuses. I’m fed up with how out of touch today’s world is with service and a smile. It’s not just the fortune 500s. Your mom and pop shop on the corner is often just as bad. It goes all the way back to how we raise our kids to respect others. But here’s the thing. If we give bad service, we won’t get away with it. Word spreads. If you’re big it takes longer, but it will catch you  — I’m not writing this only for you. I’m writing this for me. So if I ever forget, I can come back and remind myself the words of a young businessman who knew what quality and service meant.

Did you know I’m running for Congress? When was the last time you got great service from your congressman? The same principle applies there. Service, communications and respect. Lets get to this list.

  • 1. YOU Are the Servant:

When a customer deals with you or calls with a problem there’s one thing that is critical to remember: YOU are their servant. This is not a joke. You are being paid to serve that person and whether they pay you again is directly related to how well-served they feel. Service is about satisfaction. It’s about humbling yourself and taking pride in giving someone what they want. This applies not only to how you behave but also to the quality of the product you sell. YOU serve them! If you cannot grasp this concept you will never be a great businessperson.

  • 2. Give them the Pickle:

A wonderful concept started by Bob Farrell, this means just what it suggests. The little things are what makes happy customers. You don’t ruin a customer’s experience by making up petty rules or finding petty charges for extras. You don’t look for subtle ways to fleece them. Are you listening fast food? People are not idiots. They may tolerate your tacky charge for a glass of water, but it will leave a bad taste and it will cost you.

  • 3. The Customer:

It used to be said the customer is always right. While occasionally this is not 100% true, you can still treat them as if they are. The truth is it’s generally only that PICKLE that they want. Give it to them. If you can’t, go that extra mile and try to find some solution. There are bad customers out there and yes, occasionally you have to work for them. Good service does not mean letting customers stand on your neck but it also does not mean letting them walk next door because you won’t give them a .10 packet of ketchup. If you take the high road and work for that customer, chances are they will love you for it.

  • 4. Anger Management:

You owe your customer service. It’s your job. You need to make them happy. Even if they are unhappy right now. From an early age I was shocked by how offended people would get when I got frustrated with bad service. But when a customer is upset, a professional MUST not take it personally. While ethically customers should be kind as well, that does not mean they cannot chide a company or person for failing at their job. The angriest of customers is rarely angry at you. They want what they paid for. Give them the pickle and take responsibility for problems and they will turn from foe to friend. It’s rare that I cannot turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one with a few minutes of personal effort.

  • 5. SERVICE:

Pure and simple. You work for your customers and so do your employees. In a world where service seems to have been forgotten, if you give that service you will blow them away. This means making it easy for them. It does not mean hiding your phone number on your site, only offering email support, taking days to respond, making excuses, trying to get them to pay for your mistakes.

I’ve heard all the excuses folks. They are all crap. It does not matter if you’re a software giant with ten million customers or a tiny bistro on the street corner. If you say you just can’t afford to give service, it’s a lie. Service means you make it happen. You pick up the phone, ship out the package, send the letter or crawl there on your hands and knees. SERVICE is how you stay in business.

Service means you go the extra mile to make sure you’re customers are treated fair and just. Policy be hanged, efficiency tossed out the window and price left at the door. Because when you give this kind of service people remember you, they talk about you and they want to buy from you AGAIN. If you give bad service YOU will pay later and YOU will deserve every penny of that loss.

None of us are perfect, Things go wrong. But every now and then step back and ask yourself “How would I want to be treated?”

Serve and be served — Gav

Pro Photo Podcast #93 – Fiasco’s, Fishing and Photography

Video_ Selling Wall Art – Photos as Fine Furniture-1

It’s road trip season. Check out Gavin’s road trip article for a huge list of resources.

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Direct Podcast FeediTunesPodcast Alley

Today’s Panel… Gavin Seim Bary HowellScott Jarvie

This week Gavin and Barry talk about the latest topics and then dig into some stories of past photography adventures.

This episode brought to you by the Seim Effects and the award winning EXposed Workshop.

PPS #93 Forum Discussion HERE.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 01:40 Barry Speaks
  • 17:55 A bit of video discussion
  • 24:30 News and LR5 talk
  • 34:30 The Stolen Facebook Photo Fiasco
  • 52:20 It’s Story Time
  • 1:18:47 Picks and Fishing
  • 1:37:25 Scott Jarvie Joins in

LINKS…

EXposed Workshop win’s a hot one award.

Gavin Road Trip Journal

Gavin’s road trip article with a list of gadgets.

VIDEO: Selling Photos as Fine Furniture.

Canon C100

Graphene Camera Sensor.

The Stolen Facebook  Photo Fiasco.

Jarvie’s Faith in America Project.

Picks…

GAVIN –

SLR Pro Dot

Bucket Boss Jumper Cable Bag.

Epic 25ft Jumper Cables

Barry –

Stool with tool storage.

Air Display – iPad

Rapela Scatterrap.

Scott –

Jumper Power  Box
(Here’s a heavier duty version)

Pro Photo Podcast #92 – The Long Long Podcast

Video_ Selling Wall Art – Photos as Fine Furniture-1

Check out the free business video from Seim Effects

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Today’s Panel… Gavin Seim Jody SmyersMark Tesky Ben Horne

Gavin is home and the crew catches up on the latest and shares some ideas for 2013. This is a long one because we missed an episode last month. Lots of goodies in the after show as well. Enjoy.

This episode brought to you by the Seim Effects. And the PHOTOGRAPHICS the Film.

PPS #92 Forum Discussion HERE.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 07:15 What in the news.
  • 40:45 A bit of video & Magic Lanterns
  • 51:30 Ideas of 2013 Lightning Round
  • 1:03:40 Social Networks Lightning Round
  • 1:16:45 Being Unique
  • 1:35:40 Picks
  • 1:58:30 The AFTER Show

 

LINKS…

Everyone is getting saddled with Creative Cloud

Canon says ML Firmware will not void warranty.

VIDEO: Selling Photos as Fine Furniture.

Facebook Charging for pages. A few tips.

Samson Airline Micro Mics

Trek Pack.

Journal of Gavin’s 3 month road trip.

Picks…

Mark – Canon C100 and Atmos Ninja Recorder
Ben – Lee Wide Angle Hood
Gavin, Loquat SyrupPlatine Fiber Rag paper

Jody – Vello Gear Free Wave

Five Essential Elements to Mastering Photography:

This is an article I was originally asked to write for Professional Photographer Magazine, a good read – The problem was that editing department hacked it up so badly that it was barley even my words anymore. Such is life, but I opted to not have it published. Below is the full version of the article with a few extras since I didn’t have a word limit here. Enjoy – Gavin Seim

____

I’m going to share a few things that can fundamentally change how we make images. NONE of them are new –  Sometimes it seems we arrived at digital and left behind a hundred and fifty years of photographic knowledge. I spend a lot of time studying classic techniques. Why? Because it’s not new – It’s time tested. It works. In this digital age we can get so caught up in gadgets, software and tools that we neglect how to make images beautiful from the start. I’m from the digital generation – So while I fully relate, I’ve learned to stop looking for buttons and start looking for light.

1. The Tones:

Ken Whitmire once taught me that “Tone” may be the least understood and least utilized factor in composing and finishing images.” He was right. With digital it’s easy to think “that’s easy”. But as a lover of film and digital, I’ve learned they’re not so different. A great photograph is light and shadows – We must see in terms of tone and how it relates to what we want to capture. Exposure, burning, dodging, finishing  – Proper use of tone can literally take the viewer anywhere we want them to go. Now that’s power.

Ken Whitmire on the Oregon coast – I photographed this portrait of him while he was photographing a family. The Tone is essential here. Control of the dynamic range while retaining rich blacks gives balance to the scene.

2. The Zones:

The Zone Scale – A representation from black to white in one stop increments. The language of light.

I’ve been trying to decide how to discuss Ansel Adam’s Zone System in few words. Zones may be the most neglected tool in photography today. They offer a core to how we communicate and photograph light. Zones are not just for film or black and white. Once you truly understand them you never see the same again. The Zone System is broad reaching. But it’s core is the beautify simple Zone Scale, a representation from black to white. Combine Zones with a simple understanding of metering and there is no over, or under exposure. There’s only your exposure. Your intent. I can’t explain it all here, but there’s a free video covering the basics that I posted over at exposedworkshop.com. It’s an excerpt from my EXposed series and will get you started. Don’t ignore Zones because they will change your photography. You can also read my article on using Zones here.

Lost Oasis – I was using large format film here and took advantage of camera movements. Line, tone, space and position were all critical and while in retrospect there’s things I could have improved, taking my time paid off. I took in the full tonal range from black (Zone 0) to just shy of clipping (Zone 10). More on this image here.

The Zone System – Here is an exposure sequence metered on the highlights from Zone 1 to Zone 9. More on this in the Zone System discussions on my site.

3. Space, Position, Line:

Ken Whitemire, the pioneer and master of the wall portrait, showed me the value of tones in relation to space, position and line. He has an amazing lecture he gives about this at the Wall Portrait Conference each year – Essentially we need to think about the aesthetics of our image. For this reason I love studying masters like Bierstadt, Sargent and others. We must start by truly seeing our scenes. Think about the subject. How lines lead. Where are they positioned? Why? Is anything distracting? Should it be lighter, darker? Really – Truly – See!

Morgan’s Song – I had a lot of things happening in this riverside portrait. Controlling the aspects of the scene, the position and the tone allowed me to show a beautiful scene while still keeping the viewers eyes on Morgan.

4. Visualize – Again:

Are you really “seeing” in the minds eye? It’s easy to let this slide in an age of instant previews and post production fixes. But nothing replaces visualizing. Ansel reminds us that “The whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in the mind’s eye”. Regardless of our subject, we must stop, if only for a moment. See what’s in front the lens and decide what the subject needs. Then use space, position, line and tone to make that happen.

This was my turning point in visualizing. I used 4×5 film for this wall portrait that we printed at 40 inches. I needed to keep away the distractions in the space. I only used one frame of color film, but I took a breath first. I truly saw the portrait in my mind before I released the shutter. I’ve added a zone scale for the purpose of tone study.

 5. Finishing:

The image is captured. Win lose or draw we’ve done it. I’ve learned that slowing down throughout the entire process makes me a far better craftsman. That includes finishing. It’s easy to raise the bar in post if we stop worrying about making countless “decent” images and start thinking about how to take the “best” and make them sing. Fulfill that visualization, right up until the print is on the wall. That is mastering the photograph.

Until next time… Gavin Seim

This image was a PPA Loan Collection print in 2011. It’s actually a tone-mapped piece, but more importantly, it had careful attention to detail. Focus on line, tone values and finishing made it work. Planning and execution.

Pro Photo Podcast #90 – Orange Fondue Pots

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Direct Podcast FeediTunesPodcast Alley

Today’s Panel... Gavin SeimBarry HowellBryan CaporicciJoseph Linaschke

Bringing in 2013, the panel talks about whats new and whats coming this year as they share ideas on raising the bar in 2013.

This show brought to you by the Seim Effects. And the new Color Fantasies 2 Presets for Lightroom.



PPS #90 Forum Discussion HERE. Share Your Opinions.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 03:00 News and latest
  • 13:00 Compact Cameras and Fads
  • 40:10 Adobe CS2 Adventure
  • 43:30 Ideas for 2013
  • 1:06:25 Copyright – Lighting
  • 1:25:50 Composition – Lighting
  • 1:39:20 Picks of the Month
  • 1:58:58 After Show

 

LINKS…

Follow Gavin’s 3 month American road trip.

Brother QL570 label printer.

Ifrogs BOOST

Powershot N

 

Olympus OMD

Sony NEX Series

 

Adobe CS2 Download Archives.

Wall Portrait Workshop 2013

Film is Coming Back.

Gavin’s LIGHT LETTER

PICKS:
Bryon
Herman Miller Aeron Chair

Barry:
Hassleblad 500CM

Joseph:
Eye-Fi SD Card

7 Sure Fire Ways to Become a GREAT Photographer – In Under 10 Years!

  • Practice.
  • Study.
  • Practice.
  • Study.
  • Practice.
  • Study.
  • Practice.

Sorry, I could not resist – Honestly though it’s no easy road and it’s not fast. But learning photographics the right way is wonderfully rewarding. Edward Weston once said – “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no short cuts in photography.” – I’ve found that to be true. I also learned that the sooner you dig into the science of light and art working together, the easier it gets.

Take your time, enjoy it and don’t ruin it for yourself by trying to go pro before you’re ready or be something you’re not. That said, I’ll give you more. Visit the Best of Pro Photo Show page. It’s a list of of the best tips, shows and articles we’ve ever shared over the years. It will keep you busy for the rest of the weekend and you’ll walk away a better photographer. Good luck, Gavin.

Gavin Seim: Portraitist, Pictorialist, Speaker and producer of Seim Effects Photo Tools and the EXposed workshop.