Nothing is more important to the success of an event business than offering top-of-the-line customer service. Take yours to a new level by making these your New Year's resolutions for 2019:
1. Make It personal.
While technology keeps pushing us towards virtual experiences and further from each other, guests are hungrier than ever for personal contact. Face-to-face meetings, conference calls with live voices, and in-person interactions in general are in demand, even among corporate clients. People recognize that the level of service is much better one-on-one than via email or text, and they crave authentic interaction. Be willing to satisfy their need for contact through in-person meetings or scheduled phone calls when possible.
2. Commit to transparency.
If you figure that confirming practically any claim these days is as easy as saying, “Hey, Siri,” or quickly launching a Google search, it makes sense that today’s customers expect transparency. They want to know what they are getting into and what their options are up front.
To satisfy today’s clientele, avoid giving customers the run-around, especially in the beginning stages of planning. When possible, narrow options down to just one or two. You can always upsell later. Work diligently to avoid overwhelming your clients with too many options, so that they feel comfortable and safe with you.
3. Ask for feedback.
It’s not always fun, but asking for feedback is important. Request that your sales managers call clients within a week of their events, or send out a survey by mail or email.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, no matter what the outcome of the event was. It can be painful to hear criticisms in the moment, but ultimately the information will empower you to provide better service to future clients and their guests.
Simply be humble and listen. Often a sympathetic ear is all that they need to regain trust in your brand.
If you note any negative feedback trends, discuss them with your team. Determine what is causing the issues, and choose a path forward that will help get you back on track. It might require an adjustment to contract wording, service documents, or policies and procedures, or you might need to address a personnel issue.
4. Schedule weekly meetings.
A great way to use any kind of feedback is to discuss it at your weekly meetings. At ours, we run through our hospitality service and guidelines, and take real-life experiences and talk about how we can do better. Even if we are doing well in an area, we focus on how that can continue and how we can keep doing good work.
Training should not be something you do only on an annual basis; it should be part of your weekly routine. Employees are far less likely to retain their training if they receive it only sporadically. Weekly reinforcement reminds everyone that your procedures and expectations are important to the overall success of the team.
Simply by prioritizing your customer service for 2019, you are demonstrating the commitment you need to seriously up your game.
Heather Jones is the catering sales director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property in Livermore, Calif., that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a range of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.