FAQ: Why Did My Artist Ghost Me?
One of the most common stories I hear from customers is that their previous tattoo artist just up and vanished. No more email responses, no more phone calls, nothing. As someone dedicated to the process of customer service, I'm always imagining what my customers experience from start to finish. How are they greeted, are there dust bunnies laying around, am I conveying the importance of their project, is it obvious I'm listening to their concerns, etc. I've always felt the portfolio gets people in the door, but it's customer service that keeps them coming back. So what's the story with tattoo artists that ghost clients?
One reason could be that they work in a shop predicated on turnover. Like a restaurant it's about getting people in and out as fast as possible. More butts more money. The more time spent talking and designing though, the lower the profit. If an artist is working with a customer that comes across as needy or too verbose, they might just cut the chord. It's not always personal, sometimes it's just that too much time needs to be invested before the tattoo process starts. There are no guarantees that research and drafting of designs will end in actually getting paid.
Another reason a tattoo artist might fade away is that they can't produce the work being requested. It's not easy for artists to admit when they can't do what their competitors can. Leaving an email in limbo is a lot easier. I like to think that they are doing the customer a favor. Rather than attempt a tattoo they aren't comfortable with and failing, they just waste a little time and lose a customer for life. Artist's egos can be sensitive. Some of the best artists are ones that sat alone at lunch and didn't go to prom, because they were too busy doing that one thing that made them special, art.
I hate to say it, but sometimes artists ghost customers because it is personal. As a tattoo artist, you make yourself vulnerable each and every day. It's one of the few professions where you and your customer can make an immediate side by side comparison of work with the literal world's best. The internet provides doctored images of tattoos done by modern artistic geniuses with classical educations one swipe away from what Spider Pete did down the street. Doctors, lawyers, chippendale dancers, even astronauts don't carry this daily burden of proof. With all that said, a customer's temperament can stand in the way of a successful product simply by distraction. Customers with the best of intentions can end up making the income not worth the trouble. (That's something I'll address in a future post, because I know there are people that want to be a good patient.)
The tattoo world isn't synonymous with good customer service. It never has been. I don't get it though. It seems like if you treat your clientele like you'd like to be treated everything will fall in place. As a policy of basic decency, I respond to every email, every dm, every person regardless of how they make me feel. I find nothing more frustrating than the increasingly impersonal world that we live in. If you don't hear back from me, please try again. I have to keep track of multiple social media accounts, emails, dm's, text messages, and handshake interactions, so it's possible one might unintentionally slip through. That being said though, I will never intentionally disappear on you.