Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Lost Art of Customer Service

Too many times I have listened to a recorded menu repeat, or a vendor (whom I’ve never met), treat me less than friendly. Regardless of industry, service to your customer and relations with colleagues and vendors is the absolute key to continued success. handshake

There are a myriad of checklists for effective customer service. These are my contributions with a side of personal experience.

  1. A machine just doesn’t understand. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I automatically like a company less if I can’t speak to a real, living, breathing person within two, that’s right, two, automated menus. I understand you’re receptionist is overworked and tired of hearing the same request over and over again. Or for that matter, that it’s cheaper to record a message than to pay a receptionist. But believe me when I say, it’s not in the company’s long-term best interests. Whenever possible, have a person pick up the phone and direct the call accordingly. Technology has come a long way but people still reign.
  2. Friendliness and helpfulness doesn’t mean you’re having a good day. If we’re really honest with each other here, we can admit that all days are not good days. Pay particular attention to your interactions on the less-than-good days to make sure you are still being respectful and helpful when necessary. Clients, vendors, even coworkers, shouldn’t feel the brunt of your bad day.
  3. Honesty is usually the best policy. The most common reasons we lie: We don’t know the answer; we want to make ourselves look good; to avoid conflict. Everyone does it, but that doesn’t excuse it. In an increasingly technological society, whether you like it or not, word will get out somehow. Be honest about your experience—it will show if you aren’t and pay off in the long run if you are. Be honest about project status—if a client has ruled out a venue, let that venue know so they can move on. Be honest about your work—if you haven’t had time to (or forgot) to do something, you’re better off asking for more time than spinning a web that not even Charlotte could get out of.
  4. Répondez s’il vous plaît. “Please respond” is a phrase that is useful for more than just head counts. We all know someone who let’s emails sit in his/her inbox, or still needs a second or third reminder to get back to you. Don’t be that person. Others are frustrated by that person. Mark your tasks on a list or set calendar reminders, whatever you have to do to remember to follow up.
  5. Know to whom you speak or to whom you’d like to speak. This is a toughie for a variety of reasons, mainly because when you are just starting out with a client, vendor or company, things are still a little hazy. This is the time for questions. Ask, ask, ask and thus rid yourself from blame of faux-pas. If you’ve worked with the client, vendor, or company, leave the excuses behind. You should know who to speak with, what their job entails and who can get you what you need. The trick is to avoid wasting someone’s time and contributing to their practice of #2.

The bottom line is that businesses stay in business because they provide value to the customer (even down to the telephone operators and accounting department). Train yourself and your employees to respond with respect, in a timely, honest and knowledgeable manner. What are your suggestions?

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Tradeshow Shoecase

Ask any lady in the convention industry and she will tell you that if you find a really good pair of tradeshow shoes, you will think you have won the lottery.

So you ask, what makes a shoe tradeshow-worthy? That is a trick question to start with because there is no such thing as a tradeshow SHOE!  Tradeshow SHOES are more the case.  Reason:  The shoes you start out with in the morning while your feet are feeling good and you are looking good are NOT the same shoes that will be your friend by 5:00 PM when you have 5 more hours to go before you can sit down.

The first key to a good tradeshow shoe is to have more than one pair at the ready. The second key is the order in which you wear the heel height. Say what? Yes, it makes a big difference!  If you are inclined to wear heels (nothing over 3” unless you are a glutton for punishment), then it is recommended that you start out with those in the morning.

As the day wears on, your feet will begin to say very bad things to you. And, by the time you are done with the first afternoon breakout, your feet are screaming bloody murder! Solution: It’s time to change shoes!

For the afternoon of running around, trying to stay awake (you’ve been up since 5:00 AM), and putting out a multitude of fires, a really good low-heel wedge or flats are your best option. This will allow your feet to expand a little after being cramped in those cute heels from the morning.  For those of us who’ve been in the business for a while, going low-heeled was previously a fashion nightmare. Thanks to the shoe manufactures, we now have many options that are comfortable and cute. You can wear them all day―and they even carry well into the night for the dinner gala or simple networking at the evening’s special gatherings!

Here are a few of my favorites! And as a true shoe-a-holic, I welcome ALL recommendations and suggestions on finding more! Happy shopping! Happy feet! 

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Leave it Packed

With Fall upon us, business is picking back up. As a planner during busy season, you might as well leave the suitcase packed, so I took a poll of the office to see what items our planners never leave home without.

  •  Tech-Support. Whether it’s an extra USB drive,suitcases phone charger, or a spare extension cord (which also happens to spare your budget), traveling prepared is key because we’ve all experienced that Murphy’s Law applies most often to our tech devices.
  • Peace of Mind. We’re all a little different here but the general idea is that each of us requires something to keep our mind calm—be it Aspirin, an iPod or a good book. Going onsite is often sensory overload and you will need something to refresh and rejuvenate.
  • Extra onsite documents. If delegates even take the time to look through their onsite packet, they’ll lose the papers or forget they even have them. Take extras because they will be asked for.
  • Foot Fetish. On everybody’s list appeared a need for comfy shoes. You run, you stand, you walk, you explore, you run some more and then you drag yourself up to your room. Do your feet a favor.
  • On a Personal Note. I wasn’t surprised by most of the answers I received but I did, however, get a chuckle out of the personal quirks my coworkers have. Almost everyone mentioned personal care items like floss or cosmetics, and two said they never leave home without Lysol wipes, (which is unusual but I like the thought). My favorite, though, comes from Brenda, (our saavy new business development manager), who claims her craziness by admitting she always travels with a bed sheet. I think they provide those at the hotels but there’s no judgment here—I carry multi-colored pens for color-coding my planner. We all have something.


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