By Kymoul Vanterpool
CEO of KVAV Events
Is it just me, or does it seem that delivering outstanding Customer Service has been replaced with a heightened focus on obsessing over our ROI (Return On Investment) goals with our customers? Focusing on the short-term profits in exchange for building long-term relationships? Are we all still trying to dig ourselves out of recent economic woes by sacrificing outstanding Customer Service?
I know what you’re saying: “No way, I always deliver outstanding Customer Service to my clients.” Well, maybe you do. But recently I’ve been seeing the contrary. At KVAV Events, we learn about our client’s company and brand and integrate their goals with ours. We strive to make the work environment, especially in the heat of the event, easy and stress-free for the client. We want to take the work off them. Isn’t that why they hired us? We’ll be their brand advocate just as passionately as they will be.
How do we do it?
We build relationships by working well with others, carefully planning and producing events – flawlessly. We’re on time and deliver what we promise, without question, recommending the best service and equipment to deliver a successful event. But that’s just the first step to delivering Outstanding Customer Service. What about when the person leading the event has a special request, that wasn’t part of the original spec? An “oops.” Now, some companies, who are more focused on sticking tightly to their budget, ensuring they hit their ROI, push back with “Oh, that’s going to cost you more,” or “We can’t do that NOW, it’s too late.”
That’s not what I call outstanding Customer Service, and I believe it will hurt those companies in the long run.
As professionals, we’ll help find a solution. Perhaps we can work something out with the hotel, or maybe we can just do it ourselves, with a little extra effort. I’m not above moving tables and chairs, if need be. We’re not “just” the A/V company they hired. We consider ourselves an extension of their team. We’re in it for the long haul. Hopefully, we’ve anticipated such challenges during our planning phase, and have built enough into our budget to accommodate some of these situations. So, planning, experience and foresight play key roles in achieving your ROI. But, even if we haven’t, I know, in the moment, this isn’t the time to raise the stress level of my client. We just need to make it happen! We’re building a relationship. It’s not just about this single event; it’s about the next three, four or more events we’re going to do for this client. I know we’ll be taken care of at some point in the future, because we’ve “saved” this client, and have built a rapport and trust with them.
For example, at a recent event in Washington, D.C., our client needed projectors and screens for their presenters in break-out rooms which were not on the original spec. But, working with the hotel, we were able to make it happen within 20 minutes, with minimal additional expense. Clearly, it was the client’s mistake, but they were very grateful we could “save the day” with this solution, on the spot.
Who do you think is going to be on the top of their list next year for producing this annual event? Or others in between? With minimal cost and effort, we’ve just locked in future business. Are you keeping an eye out for ways to build long-term relationships, or are you so focused on sticking to your budget that you build a wall between you and your client?
Don’t forget, your clients are counting on YOU to know your equipment to make it an outstanding event. When you recommend superior HD, digital equipment that will improve the quality of the event, you’re delivering outstanding Customer Service by making them look good!
How Customer Service became important to me.
Growing up around my father’s restaurant, he instilled into me the importance of treating the customer with gracious hospitality. Your customer will forgive many things, even the occasional over-cooked burger or cold fries, if they’ve been treated with respect and outstanding consideration. My father knew these customers would become long-term patrons and friends, because they were respected and their wishes accommodated without hesitation.
And I continued to see the importance of delivering outstanding Customer Service when I worked at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. Ritz-Carlton is well known for the outstanding way they accommodate their guests. They’ve figured out that the “Customer is King”, and that the guest will happily spend what’s requested, if they’re being treated well. That’s why all Ritz-Carlton employees are empowered to immediately fix a guest’s concerns, without having to check with a supervisor. Now, of course, they have pre-determined parameters they have to stay within to accommodate the guest. But usually the cost isn’t the issue. It’s hearing the guest’s concerns and taking the initiative to make it right. Now! Ultimately, that policy has meant enhanced revenues for Ritz-Carlton, as well as extremely loyal, returning guests to their resorts.
Join my movement.
As head of KVAV Events, I want to be the evangelist to spread the word to bring back outstanding Customer Service, especially in the Audio-Visual industry. I want to raise everyone’s standards. And I want to make it a religion, which everyone can join. Here in the U.S., the majority of our industry provides services. We just don’t manufacture as much stuff as we used to. So let’s serve all our customers well. Delivering outstanding Customer Service is contagious, between vendors and with our clients. When was the last time your client asked you out to dinner after an event? Taking those little stress moments off your clients, in their time of anxiety, really does pay off, whether something as simple as a dinner invitation or as future business. Are you ready to join my movement?
Here’s how you make this happen:
- Step back and take a good, long look at the overall picture
- Think long term
- Don’t be SO concerned about every nickel and dime
- Take the stress off your client
- Find solutions
- Make it happen
- Continue to build those relationships
- Reap the profits of those long-term relationships with future business
About Kymoul Vanterpool and KVAV Events:
Kymoul Vanterpool has been in the Audio-Visual industry for over 15 years, and has built KVAV Events on delivering outstanding events, conventions, meetings and functions for its clients. KVAV Events can accommodate every event, no matter how small or how large, anywhere in the U.S. They partner with outstanding resources to be flexible and deliver any type of event/show production service or equipment the client may desire. Contact Kymoul at Kymoul@KVAVevents.com, Like them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/KVAVevents or connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/kvav-events .
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