Why Attention to Detail is oh so Important

Details, details, details. We’ve probably all read about the ‘wedding details’ debate which dominated the blogosphere in the latter part of last year, but luckily for your sanity I’m not here today to add to that debacle. Oh no, I’m talking about the seriously important matter of being detail-perfect in your business.

How many times have you written a blog post only to go back to it and see a million typos? (guilty!) How many times have you gone to edit a photo and noticed a teeny tiny but now oh-so-bloody-obvious imperfection in the frame? How many times have you done something and thought ‘oh screw it, that will do’?

Worryingly there seems to be a huge number of people who don’t realise how imperative it is to get these seemingly small details perfect, and what impact ignoring them can have on their business. We’re all busy, sure, but not taking those extra few minutes to make something perfect could have a catastrophic effect. It can take just one little mistake or oversight to put off a potential client or to screw with your reputation forever.

Let me illustrate…

Now, I’m pretty sure the host of this QVC show won’t be remembered for how many e-readers he sold before he was fired. Nope, I guarantee you he’ll forever be the guy who accidentally displayed the F-word live on daytime TV. No matter how good the product is, how thorough the demo was, or how cheap it was being sold for, no one’s going to be buying it because they’re all to busy falling about laughing/picking up the phone and complaining about his mistake (believe me, I used to produce shopping TV – it’s a very delicate balance!)

Here’s another recent example that proves my point perfectly. I was sent some wedding magazines by a new bridal publication a few months back. They’d spent $50 shipping them to me from The States. I opened the covering letter and it started ‘Dear Blogger.’ Uh oh…big mistake…huge! There is nothing more annoying to a blogger (and one that prides herself on the personal approach in fact) than being addressed as just another ‘Blogger’.

This tiny detail that they’d overlooked, specifically not taking 30 seconds to personalise the letter with my name (hell, maybe even 10 seconds – ‘Kat’ is a short name), made me instantly judge the people behind the magazine. My thought process went something like this, “If they don’t even change the name on each cover letter they probably aren’t actually that bothered about making proper connections with bloggers…they probably just spammed their magazine to everyone with the vague hope of getting a response…they probably don’t even read and/or like my blog in fact… actually they’re probably just in this business for selfish reasons and to make money…gosh they probably don’t even like weddings that much…”

It didn’t matter that they’d spent $50 sending me their magazines, my first reaction was annoyance, and this one tiny oversight had instantly made me think all those judgmental (and possibly untrue) things about them.

Yes, I had sweeping and judgmental thoughts, but the initial gut reaction of someone engaging with your product/service for the first time is probably one of the most important (and genuine) reactions you’ll ever get. That tiny detail cost them what could have been a great relationship…and for the record, I haven’t seen the magazine mentioned on any other wedding blogs either, so I’d imagine that the other ‘Dear Bloggers’ that were sent the magazine had a similar reaction to me!

In the QVC example, imagine the initial response of someone who’d tuned into the channel for the very first time and seen that? (Again, this was something that was drummed into us at the shopping channel I worked for!) It doesn’t matter to a brand new viewer that this is the only mistake they’ve ever made. To them, this first impression is the lasting one and they’re probably not going to tune back in to let them make up for their mistake. This is very much like the scenario with a potential wedding client. If their first impression of your business is a negative one, they’re not going to come back to your website or send you a second enquiry email to allow you to prove their bad feeling wrong.

However it’s not all bad news, having that extra attention to detail can really help your business. A handwritten note, giving a client a little something extra with their order, pretty packaging, taking the time to say thank you, leaving an extra nice comment on someone’s blog – all these things can add immeasurable kudos. It sounds obvious but jeez, I can’t tell you how bad some businesses (and I’m not talking just the big soulless corporations here) are at this.

I’d love to know your opinions on this subject. Has a company ever overlooked a tiny detail that made you instantly judge them or not buy their product or book their service? I’d also encourage you to be extra vigilant with each and every minute detail of your business to make sure bad feelings don’t come your way. Think about it now, do you think this has ever happened to you?

All Photography Credit: Our Paper Shop via Miss Moss

32 comments

  1. Kat you are sooo right. As a make-up artist I am all about attention to detail: some call it fussy, other’s joke I have OCD, but imagine if I allowed a bride to leave my care with lipstick on her teeth (yes, I have been known to ask my brides to flash their pearly whites at me once lip-colour is applied)? With the invention of HD it is even more important I take a moment to scrutinise my bride, and I’m not just referring to make up. Often I am the last wedding professional to leave the bride once she is ready, so I look over her hair, dress, veil etc to make sure everything is right. Ok, call me a control freak, as people do, but I take pride in my work and make no excuses for it, and my brides seem love me for it.
    Kat, your articles make me smile and continue to wrap us consumers in comforting hugs.
    Kerryx

  2. Post author

    aww thanks Kerry! its so important isnt it? after all you want your clients to feel perfect and special when they leave you – thats what theyre paying you for after all xx

  3. Georgia

    I applied for a woodwork and joinery apprenticeship job with the national trust near Manchester last year, I am a girl, but in the reply letter the call me “George” and clearly didnt see that I ticked FEmale. They even wrote a letter specifically replying to my personal application, but they assumed I was a bloke! I was angry, but didn’t write a letter of complaint because I had already accepted another job somewhere else. Couldn’t believe it though…

  4. Post author

    boo Georgia thats so annoying! i also hate getting emails that say ‘dear kate’ ‘dear kit’ ‘dear cat’, ‘dear elizabeth…’ (yeah, i have no idea either….) :-/

  5. jayem

    Can you send this article to my wedding photographer please? No really. He and the photo hosting site he uses need to know this stuff. I wish I’d known they were so cavalier about detail before I hired them. Not a mistake I’ll make twice.

  6. Such great advice Kat – I particularly need to remember to be careful with the spell/grammar checking and image framing as sometimes it slips through the net after a long night of blogging 🙂 Loving the Green Room, keep up the good work!! xx

  7. Post author

    eugh Jayem, so sorry to hear that!! can you fire them and get a new one? or have you already had the wedding? whats the story?

  8. Post author

    thanks Emma – Aphroditeswb. Also just so you know i am the WORST for spelling mistakes on blog posts – the WORST. even when i read them back 3 times i still miss them. luckily i’ve now tasked gareth with spell checking them all – oh how lucky he is haha!

  9. My pet gripe: people spelling my name wrong, specifically, other businesses. Years ago, I was with a bank, and they never once spelled my name correctly, even on bank cards, and I’d phone, and tell them, and spell it out for them, and they’d still find a way of spelling it wrongly. I remember recently dealing with another business, and the woman on the other end of the phone actually got snotty with me, because I spelled my name “differently” to the way other people spelled it (e.g. whoever had put it into their database!). The older I get, the more I notice (and appreciate!) people who take the time to read my name, or check it and who try to get it right, and the more I am open to dealing with them. It takes seconds to check, but it means the world to me. On the plus side, it does make me double check my spelling of other people’s names when I correspond with them.

  10. Love that post. Details, personal touch and making clients feel special. No bride/groom/family/wedding is the same. I can ‘t believe they send that parcel with “Dear blogger” Just not a good start…x

  11. jayem

    The wedding’s done and dusted, I’m afraid, Kat. We do have the pictures on disc but those were sent with no note after a dust up about our privacy on the hosting site which wasn’t adequately resolved. It involved how the guest registration on the site was handled and how guests could post the link to our account on their FB pages, then anyone who clicked on the link could sign up and view. We’re really private people. I was devastated when I discovered it. A whole bunch of random strangers rifling through one of the most personal days of our lives. I felt like someone had been sniffing around in my undies drawer. Whenever I contacted the hosting site I felt like I’d been speaking in tongues because I kept getting email responses that sounded like English was the second language of the writer and none of my concerns were really addressed. They said they’d fix it. They didn’t. I contacted the photographer and asked what the deal was. He got back to me with a really condescending reply about how the hosting site had told him it was our guest who had done it (information I’d provided the hosting site with when I initially contacted them), how they were losing money but they’d agreed to shut down the site to allow time for our guests to re-register and use this new pin number. Only trouble was the hosting site clearly wasn’t working to the same arrangement. They waited less than 6 hours before emailing the new pin number to everyone who had registered, including all the people we didn’t know. Then there’s the bit about how before the day I’d asked specifically for no “bride getting ready” shots. I didn’t want pictures of me applying lipstick or gazing at myself in the mirror. I now have three shots of me applying lipstick and/or gazing in the mirror AND a picture of me wagging my finger at the photographer when he attempted to take another. A whole bunch of photos appear to have been taken without a flash when one was needed, something he didn’t notice on the day until it was pointed out to him. These are all little things I suppose. I mean he turned up, we have pictures, some of them aren’t bad either but a trained monkey could have got good shots of us on that day. We are theatrical people, we were dressed brightly, the backdrop was amazing and all the make-up was high definition for film. Even my friends got amazing shots with their little point and shoot cameras. A whole bunch of little overlooked details have added up to me feeling totally alienated from my wedding pictures. Sorry. Bit of a rant. But I’m still peeved and the thing that gets me is I’m not even a super focused on the details type but boy when people stuff up the little things it can have a huge impact.

  12. Post author

    Oh jayem im SO SORRY to hear this, that really sucks. boo i wish there was something we could do. breaks my heart when shoddy photographers do things like this to their clients.

  13. I’m so with you Kristin. I have had people spelling my name incorrectly all my life. It’s always been a bone of contention for me but I kind of shrugged it of when I was growing up. Now though working for myself I am insulted and angered when my name is spelt wrongly by suppliers or other business contacts…they have no excuse seeing as my business name actually has my name in it. I’ve had press reports on my business in industry magazines spell my business name right and then my name wrongly through out the report… and vicea versa…I kid you not! Whats the point in having that kind of advertising if either my name or my business name is wrong! I therefore make sure I spell peoples names correctly. I feel it’s just politeness is it not?!..I also ask potential clients if they prefer to be contacted using a shortening of their name to. It makes my correspondace with them more personal.
    I have had a recent client tell me that she had approached others for quotes (which I appreciated knowing) and that she wasn’t going to book any of them because of the spelling mistakes that were blaitently apparent, and embarassingly glaringly obvious. Her words to me were ”You can spellcheck these days so there is no excuse. It just shows laziness and I’m not going to employ someone who’s lazy for one of the biggest days of my life” Fair point no?!..I know that I wouldn’t xx

  14. Ruth

    I totally agree. Doesn’t cost much to pop a note in. I have all brides in my diary to send them a note before their day by way of a pretty card. After all there are so many stationers I value all my customers I wouldnt have a business without them x

  15. So true! It’s all in the details. I have a teeny tiny non-sponsored blog and still get so many e-mails asking me to promote things when they clearly haven’t read anything I’d written or bothered to find out my name. But two ladies contacted me, used my name, complimented me, mentioned things I’d posted about and asked me questions, I was more than happy to help them out because they took a few minutes to do some research and write something personal, it’s priceless!

  16. Jayem – those are NOT little things, my goodness, that sounds like a total utter nightmare!! You poor thing! As a photographer you HAVE to be sensitive to the couple, know when to step in and most certainly when to leave them the hell alone, it is your wedding day after all and you inevitably need some space!
    And as for the gallery, it should absolutely be password protected and private, unless otherwise agreed. What a horrible thing to happen 🙁

  17. jayem

    Thank you. I appreciate your support. Part of the problem for me was that I had to book the photographer from the other side of the world to where the wedding was, sight unseen. There were no glaring anomalies on his website and he did well in phone conversations but then we got other photographers from his studio for our engagement shoot (the week of the wedding, so I was a bit distracted) and for the wedding. I suspect that most of the good shots taken on the day came from the second shooter who was an art student. Can’t prove it of course. Since then I’ve found a couple of photographers in the area who look like they’re more my kind of people and I’m now toying with the idea of setting up an anniversary shoot with one of them. It’s a good excuse for me to wear my outfit again and it’d be no hardship seeing my shiny, new husband in his fancy Victorian finery! He’s HOT! Hopefully we’ll have more time and can get the pics that we really want. AND no uploading them to a hosting site, well that one anyway! LOL!

  18. Oh Kat, you’ve done it again: insightful and candid advice that highlights what’s important – not the detail ‘fluff’, but as Jayem said, the little things that should be perfect and can marr how a couple feels about their wedding day if businesses aren’t careful. Am going to be ever more pedantic about my spelling and content from here on in, as it’s what readers deserve. And always bear in mind that whilst it’s nice to be important, it’s important to be nice – something a lot of wedding industry types sadly seem to forget. XX

  19. Vicki Preston-Ladd

    hi
    I echo Kristen here *checks she’s spelt her name right*…I lost count of the number of wedding suppliers (venues particularly seemed to be guilty for this) who’d respond to my query with “Dear Victoria”. My name’s not Victoria – and even if it was, if I’ve put Vicki on my query, so how about using that eh?!

    I also was surprised when contacting wedding photographers how many responses I got with “please find attached price list and booking form”. Just didn’t work for me and for both these photographers and the venues above, their details went straight into the discard pile…

    Possibly harsh but in my mind, certainly fair – I want attention to detail and at least a semi-interested supplier; especially before I’ve commited to spending money with them!

    Vicki x

  20. Such great advice, Kat, and things that I do naturally – like send handwritten notes to my clients (my grandmother and mother taught me right!) – I find that other businesses dont do, and I just cant understand why… it only takes a few extra minutes/effort to do things the right way.

    The golden rule of business (and life too, I suppose) – treat other people the way you want to be treated… 🙂

  21. If it helps Jayem we too had huge issues with our photographer. We fought for a year to get our album and I still can’t bear to look at it because he has caused us so much pain. I even got a letter threatening legal action for my bad reviews I was leaving, such cheek. Anyway, a lovely photographer friend I have made since running my own business suggested the idea of a ‘re-shoot’ and we got our glad rags back on and headed down to our wedding venue to get some couple shots we could be proud to show off. I don’t think we would have though to do it unless it had been suggested but I’m so thankful it was as the images are really beautiful. Ok, they’re not of our very special day but they are of us and taken at a place that means a lot to us, our wedding venue.

    Addie, that is my golden rule too. Since the disaster above I have made it my mission to give the best service I can and keep all my clients up to date with everything going on. Even if they know what date they’ll get their film, I still like to give them courtesy emails to keep them informed and ‘in’ on the process. I don’t know why anyone would want to do anything less but I guess it’s only a huge deal when you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s unprofessional and impersonal behaviour.

    I do spell things wrong and my grammar isn’t the best but I speak from the heart and try to be genuine so I hope that my emails and contact with clients have enough of a personal touch to realise I am a human being who just happens to be very passionate about weddings and run a wedding business 🙂

  22. Julia

    This post really resonated with me, particularly after a lifetime of being wrongly referred to as ‘Julie’! Attention to detail and good, personal customer service is VITAL in an industry like this and it has amazed me how many companies still get it wrong.

    The part of my wedding planning that I’ve found most disappointing from that perspective was actually the honeymoon, which surprised me as it was one of the bits I was most looking forward to. Two of the really big companies (naming no names – but they really should know better!) didn’t even respond to my enquiry, and yet still managed to sign me up to their mailing lists against my wishes so now two months on I’ve had no actual acknowledgement of my honeymoon request but a mountain of spam emails and junk mail!! So infuriating! In the end I booked with Journey Latin America who have been brilliant – at least the bad examples make you appreciate the good service you get more.

    Similarly on the other side of the spectrum to all the bad examples in the post, I got amazing service from a florist called Lavender Blue when I asked for a quote – they went to the trouble of personally creating and posting a little package of images based on what I had said I liked and even HAND-PAINTED an initial idea of a bouquet for me!! Amazing! It’s those kind of details that really stand out – no one wants to feel like just another client when it’s their wedding, a personal touch goes a long, long way.

  23. Ha! I got so excited about this I ran around in circles shouting ‘Yes. Yes. YES!’ at my Mac – and then couldn’t think of one actual example to illustrate my hate of lack of attention to detail or the sort of non-personal-ness that comes with can’t-really-be-much-bothered-ness.

    One thing I’m definitely with you is on the name. Mine is only one letter more than yours, Kat, yet there seems to be an almost pathological inability to spell it correctly. Ok, it’s not an English name but I would argue that if you can read and are replying to a – signed – email or letter of mine I would expect you to be able to string four letters together in the correct order. *sigh*

    Anyway, it’s been lovely talking to you, until next time
    Love x Innis – Edith – Innes – Enid – Anus (yes, I’ve had that for real)

  24. jayem

    Oh!MY! GAWD! Ines! You poor thing! That’s appalling and takes a special kind of stupidity to execute!
    I have issues with my name being spelled correctly also, including the potter stuffing it up on our commemorative wedding platter! We’re now waiting for another one.

    I will say, and obviously there are still hoards of people out there who do not have an eye for detail (or much of a clue) but, we had some amazing instances during the course of our wedding planning journey with people. We had so much good juju and examples of excellence from the folks over at etsy in particular that I just want to run around the planet hugging them all for how great they are! Little hand-written notes, extra samples, discounts and lots of attention to detail and happy, happy, joy, joy spreading from them. And it pays off because the nicer and more helpful they are the more I look for excuses to utilize their services again. And obviously I’ll recommend them to anyone and everyone. I might not be getting married again but I’ll probably always know of someone who is. Our photographer and the hosting site won’t be getting any Brownie points from us but a lot of vendors will be. I can only hope that works out to more business for them because they deserve it. The photographer…not so much!

    I just wanted to say thanks to you all for your comments. A few weeks ago when it was all happening I couldn’t even speak about it for fear I would rip off someone’s head. I really am thankful to you for understanding.

    Charlene I’m really sorry about your day. I’m glad you did the post wedding shoot. I think that’s what we’ll do. Just to wrestle back the good vibes and give us pics we can smile at.

    And Bethan, thank you! I really appreciate you validating my concerns from a photographer’s perspective. I “liked” your Facebook page, and had a look at your wonderful work on your website. If I’m ever in the UK and need a photographer I know who to call. Thank you.

  25. Excellent thoughts! I was preparing letters on Sunday night to send to potential clients which I’d drafted at least 4 times, and then proof read a further twice… I was shattered and almost didn’t do a final proof. I’m glad I did, I’d missed a digit out of my phone number!!! Now I will always check things thrice!!!

  26. Completely and utterly agree. Not to blow my own trumpet yet at Christmas I sent out home made jam with hand stamped labels to all my suppliers, my printer and my web designer to say a huge (but poor) thank you for all their help during my first year of business. Every single one of them contacted me immediately after receiving it saying WOW, best Christmas bonus ever thank you! …I know how fabulous it is to get a gift like that and it’s one I love to give. Doesn’t take too much time either…I try and work that way throughout everything I do and simply HATE it when I forget which honestly happens sometimes. Great post, some people need the nudge! x

  27. Laura

    I just wanted to echo the thoughts mentioned by the two Julias above.

    I was emailing a company about organising a surprise birthday present for my other half. I’d had a few emails back and forward with the same girl firming up ideas and options, then on about the fourth or fifth email she sent me she started calling me Lauren. My name is Laura, not Lauren. After attempting to correct her, she continued calling me Lauren and in the process lost the company £600.

    This happens a lot though, I often get called Lauren…. or Moira.

  28. Thanks Kat for another brilliant article (I’m totally loving the green room). I so agree, especially in the type of industry we work in where every client is individual and should be important to you. I try to add lots of special touches, as you mention like a personal card, special packaging etc., but sometimes when you’re wrapping something late at night to go out, it’s easy to miss those special touches. Thanks for the reminder that they are too important to skip.

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