Customer service is a phrase that does not get a ton of play in the meetings and events industry. I would imagine it is because the subject is not too sexy and most conference organizers think that their people do a “good enough” job. Fair enough, but just because there ain’t no Twerkin at the customer service desk and an attendee’s question gets answered it does not mean that we are the best at what we do.
The question is, of course, is “good enough” enough for your attendees? Are you providing attendees with a level of service that they deserve and that will result in a relationship? The answer for most conferences is probably not. Customer service in our industry is just OK and just OK does not build a bond between people and when an attendee contacts you with a problem, it is not just their problem, it should be YOUR problem too. This is where you can blow people away and make them love their issue.
At i3, we run the registration component for a ton of clients. We are the eyes and the ears of the organization. Our people (me included) talk to members and attendees on the phone every day. Our general rule of thumb is to be awesome, be accommodating, be nice, and be over the top.
Our number one job is to respond to, and resolve, any attendee issues, no matter how trivial. Just like the Zappos customer service rep that spent hours on the phone with someone who bought a pair of shoes, I do not care if my people are on the phone with an attendee for a whole day…. whatever it takes to make the attendee 100% sure that they made the right choice signing up for our client’s event.
I stress to all of my staff that we should be having fun. When someone calls with a problem and the person on the other end of the phone is happy and wants to help, it sets the tone for the whole conversation. We know that these are not just calling to bitch and moan, they have an issue and if it was important enough to pick up the phone, we must pay attention.
A customer service reps job is to fix things, and fix them we must.
Social Customer Service is also a part of our plan. Not many associations even know that their attendees are all over those social interwebs and it bites them in the butt. I am not sure if you have ever been bitten in the keester but it really hurts. We regularly monitor client event feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other networks to make sure that there are no issues creeping around that might become a festering wound if left untreated.
This leads us to something that was on fire all over the internet late last year… a screenshot of a Netflix Customer service rep interacting with a Netflix Subscriber (who also seems like a ton of fun).
What you are about to read is how conference and event staff should be interacting with attendees. Be fun, be funny, and totally solve the problem…. remember, just because someone has a problem does not mean they hate you, they just want it fixed and this is a kickin’ example of a customer is walking away from the interaction with a smile on their face.
When event staff approach attendees with dread, dreadful it will be.
I would love to give proper credit for the image but it has been shared so many times that I do not even know where it came from…..and this post continues below this amazingly long exchange.
I get that this one is over the top and we won’t always have a customer, member, or attendee that is willing to play along in such an awesome way but every interaction can be positive.
Yes, trolls and trouble makers exist and I will get to them in a future post but again, most attendees just want their problem pain to end so there is no better time to make changes than today and you can get started with social customer service by checking out the following (good) tips from Sentiment Metrics.