Your Event Needs Customer Service
Posted in Spotlights on July 10, 2015
Let's throw out all of the cliches now - no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. It costs less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. If you haven't already figured it out, nothing ever goes 100% as planned. And let me quote advisor and politician Rahm Emanuel when he said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." There are several important parts to think of when you're wanting to optimize the experience of your attendees with customer service.
As an event planner, you need to hope for the best but expect the worst. One thing I've learned is that Customer Service isn't just a reactive thing for when crises arise but also a proactive move to ensure attendees are well cared for. You'll want to have angles of attack for both types to provide your attendees with a world-class experience that leaves them satisfied and eager to return!
Anticipate With Foresight
Part of providing top-tier customer service is anticipating the needs of your attendees. Anticipation refers of course to things that you have reasonable foreknowledge of and you can put systems in place to minimize or eliminate the issues, whereas reactive is just that - reacting to the events that take place. If you're doing an outdoor event and it's extremely hot, you'll want to have refreshing items such as misters and places to get water. If you're inside and it's particularly cold due to AC, you need to be able to fix that as soon as possible to avoid discomfort.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Here in Austin, one day it can be sunny and nice and the next day it's raining and there's thunder. these aren't issues if you are running an indoor venue, but indoor presents its own issues such as the aforementioned AC.
There also needs to be clear signs for where everyone is going and where your attractions are, as well as ways to stimulate line moving. Be sure that your event is able to work with people who may have disabilities and need wheelchair access. You should spend a lot of time attempting to make everything as simple and systemized as possible, this way you won't have to be fretting about issues and reacting.
React Like Ritz
This is where you don't let a crisis go to waste. What does that mean? It means that if something bad happens, not only do you resolve the issue but you go above and beyond the call of what a normal response might be. The luxury hotel chain, Ritz-Carlton, is the gold standard of customer service and it might as well be known as the Ritz standard for which the hotels are named. One story I recall reading was about a boy that accidentally left his stuffed giraffe at the hotel. When it was returned to the boy by the Ritz-Carlton loss prevention team, included were pictures of it receiving a massage, hanging out on a lawn chair, and being in the driver's seat of a golf cart! The boy was happy but the parents were probably even more ecstatic. Needless to say, they're likely to be life-long customers. So when something negative happens, your first thought needs to be on how to change it into a positive experience or at the very least one that shows you care and are willing to do everything you can. Your volunteers and team members should all have the same state of mind here.
That being said, you should attempt to keep reactions to a minimum but still be adequately prepared for anything to happen.
If you're using an online ticketing platform, you must ensure that you pick one that has a stellar customer service record. Nothing can be more frustrating than breaking your back to put on a great event only to have it foiled by a poorly designed site that prevents customers from purchasing tickets. If you're using check in apps, make sure that they work beforehand and have a print-out sheet alongside just in case it isn't able to handle the influx.
One last consideration is to engage with your customers post-event in a helping manner. Lost and founds should be well taken care of and respected. Engaging with your attendees post event, is extremely important since it helps cement positive memories as well as extending the psychological presence of your event in their mind. If you'd like to read about some simple ways to help increase the number of returning attendees to your events, check out our post here.