How often are you blown away by the quality of service you receive?
Many companies seem to hide behind automatic telephone menus, impenetrable terms and conditions and feigning ignorance, doing all they can to make it hard for their clients. Actually, even in the very worst cases, some companies, like a certain toy manufacturer, even try to transfer the blame for things going wrong.
Yet, in today’s crowded markets, companies who stand out with their service levels will win the day. The events manager who hires the very best suppliers, even when it reduces their immediate margins, the interpreter who watches the room and not the clock, the translator whose research goes beyond terminology to discover the messages that work for a specific market.
But what does that even look like? For those of us in business-to-business markets, there are 4 clear signs of great service.
1) Great service starts from first contact
I am on the look-out for a good binder to bind my PhD thesis. I wrote to three different suppliers, one of which came recommended. However, despite the glowing recommendations and assurances that they do a great job, I wrote them off as a possibility within a few minutes. Why would I do that?
The answer is simple: their emails were awful. Sure, I am not employing them to write emails but, like it or not, people judge us by the quality of our communication. If someone asks for a quote, don’t send them prices for all the component parts and fail to add them all together. If someone sends questions, answer them all.
Basic details like starting with a nice greeting and ending with a professional sign-off can make a world of difference. Similarly, sounding approachable and friendly on the telephone or having a good handshake can make an unbelievable difference.
2) Great service offers custom solutions
Recently, I received an email from a client, asking some questions about the setup of interpreting at an event. In those cases, there are always two solutions. You can either send a generic, flat response, or you can read through the requirements carefully and create a plan that is tailor-made for the client. For me, generic is never an option.
We are all time-poor and there will always be a temptation to go for off-the-peg generic solutions but the more generic you are, the greater your competition. If you can show that you have really thought through what your client wants and can deliver it well, you will have a strong advantage over anyone else.
Imagine that you are running a multilingual event. While it might sound good enough to add in a line saying that you will “source interpreters”, that alone is pretty generic. It’s much better to show you know your stuff by explaining just how you would source interpreters and better yet, to describe how you will ensure that you get the right interpreters for the right role at the event. After all, the demands of interpreting conversations for exhibitors are completely different to handling the highlight address by a leading expert.
3) Great service is human
No matter how good technology gets, people will always want to talk to people. How often have you desperately wanted to find the “talk to an operator” button in an automated menu? How many times have you been frustrated by websites that just send you round in circles when you need help?
For events, apps will never replace competent staff and skilled suppliers. People will always want to talk to people. For conference interpreters, ensuring that what you say is connecting with the audience will always win more plaudits than making sure you echo the exact linguistic structure of the original speech.
4) Great service integrates the big picture and the details
I spend a lot of time chatting with translators. Translators make a living being fiendishly brilliant with details. They don’t just understand words; they sleep, eat, live and breathe them. For a translator to really succeed, however, they need to learn how to take their natural passion for tiny details and fuse it with an ability to understand what a write is trying to do through an entire text.
It’s the same in event management. Sure, you want to get the décor to be perfect and the layout to be on the money but those details only make sense in the context of what the client wants the entire event to achieve. While we might admire those who can keep track of every minute of the conference agenda, clients will ultimately judge events by their results.
For all of us, whether we are suppliers or managers, accommodation providers or entertainers, the challenge is to blow clients away with our attention to detail while amazing them by delivering better results than they could possibly imagine. We can only do that by paying attention to how we communicate, creating customised solutions, treating our clients like human beings and nailing the details so the big picture works.