A whopping 87 percent of party rental operators responding to a recent informal poll from Special Events use some type of survey tool to gauge client satisfaction with their work. And the reason why is simple: "Satisfied customers are the backbone of our industry!" says Lauri Dixon, owner of Party Plus in Baltimore. "We as an industry would be remiss if we did not inquire as to how the event went."
By far, the most popular tool used to check client satisfaction is a post-event email, used by 41 percent of respondents.
"After each delivery and pickup, we email a client survey to our customers," says Tricia Schmitt, director of sales and marketing at AFR Furniture Rental of Pennsauken, N.J. "It is a great form of communication because email is so easy and it only takes clients a few minutes to reply. This comes in the way of a personal email from the actual inside/outside sales rep to our client."
Tying for second place are follow-up phone calls and asking for feedback from the lead person on the job, both used by 21 percent of respondents. (Multiple replies are possible.)
Ten percent of respondents mail a comment card to clients after the event, usually with a postage-paid return envelope.
Cleveland-based Event Source uses one of the most elaborate survey tools. Every client who receives an invoice via email is sent a link to an online survey, which asks about the company's website, showroom, customer service, condition of equipment and so on. Clients who complete the survey are entered into a monthly drawing for a $100 gift card.
TUNING INTO SOCIAL MEDIA
Some 83 percent of respondents say they monitor social media to keep tabs on what clients are saying.
Form Decor of La Mirada, Calif., takes social media so seriously that "We have a dedicated PR/marketing/social media coordinator," says vice president of sales Jeff Sigler. "We’ve learned that if you really want to reach a significant cross-section of your customers, you have to be everywhere. There are so many social media platforms and everyone has a different preference, and therefore a different communication style/language. It’s a full-time job."
Millers Rentals of Edison, N.J., works the "conversation" aspect of social media, explains president Steve Kohn. His company not only posts client comments on the employee bulletin board but also on the company's Facebook page and website.
"We have learned that clients want to give feedback as long as it's easy to do," Kohn says. "Social media is perfect for it. It makes it fun and interactive."
Social media even serves as market research for Miller's. "When we are considering purchasing an item, we seek customer opinion on social networks," Kohn says. "We find clients love to comment."
See the full story in the May-June issue of Special Events. Not a subscriber? We can fix that—just click here.
Photo by iStockphoto / © Kai Zhang