By Sonya Callan
We often hear a lot of chatter about the organisations that provide excellent customer service and this will certainly drive customers to those companies but can those same businesses claim to provide what is the ‘holy grail’ in keeping customers – providing excellent customer experience every time?
Often confused, let’s look at definitions for both customer service and customer experience to see how they differ:
Customer Service means providing timely, attentive, upbeat service to a customer, and making sure their needs are met in a manner that reflects positively on the company or business.
Customer Experience focuses on the relationship / partnership between a business and its customers. It includes every interaction, no matter how brief and even if it doesn’t result in a purchase.
Providing an excellent customer experience each time you deal with your customers ensure you can build up strong relationships, you may not carry out a transaction each time but you will be the first person they think of when they need something done.
Here at Planit we strive to look after our customers big or small, regular or once off and our aim is to provide the same customer experience to each. So how do we do this?
Listening, asking questions, gathering information
While a lot of event management is planning, scheduling and spreadsheets there is also the most important factor which is listening to the client from the first interaction right through to post event analysis. A client will have their own set of requirements for their event which can be gathered quickly, however, by actively listening to them and asking the right questions our events team learn so much more about the type of event the client wants and what they want to achieve from it. There is nothing more annoying for customers than having to repeat their requests so that first phone call or email response is so important. Done well and the client feels they are in safe hands with event professionals who have grasped their event goals, done badly and clients become frustrated.
Understanding each customer is different
At Planit we appreciate that each customer is different. Not just in their budget or spending capacity but specifically in the corporate world, in their company’s culture. Never assuming what works for one client will work for another helps us to keep an open mind when approaching customer events. Some will prioritise large scale technical productions over the catering elements, some will focus on the entertainment options and all of these differences are what makes each event and client unique. Whilst some of our long-term clients are nearly an extension of our own business and we can usually pre-empt their event requirements, this doesn’t mean that we become complacent and lazy in our event proposals.
Sharing our knowledge and experience
During our 30 years in the events industry, we have always taken great pride in sharing our experiences and offering advice to customers. We would rather be honest with a customer, sharing the examples from previous events so that they can make informed decisions. A customer may approach us with their own ideas for their event but it is up to us to review their needs, assess the logistics, review the venue and provide them with constructive feedback. In some cases, this may mean that an event may not go ahead but we do hope that this honest feedback builds a relationship with the customer and that they will come back to us for future events.
”Customer Experience focuses on the relationship / partnership between a business and its customers. It includes every interaction, no matter how brief and even if it doesn’t result in a purchase.
In summary, all businesses like to think of themselves as customer-centric but sometimes you do need to review your customer offering, is it just transactional or do you try to bring an emotional aspect to each interaction? At Planit we pride ourselves on building long lasting relationships, continuously growing and innovating with our existing customers and branching out to new clients through active listening, deep understanding of requirements and providing expert advice at all times.