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Where has customer service gone?

As an event management and venue finding agency, it’s great to be busy and being busy means that more than ever, we are working with a number of different suppliers to get the job done. I often describe our role as a form of brokerage, acting as the middle man between the client and supplier to deliver an extraordinary event.

Of course, event management and venue finding isn’t just brokering. Our creativity, knowledge organisation and customer service all help to create a fabulous event. For me, customer service is key to everything we do, delivering the best service to clients, but also suppliers. In an industry that is so focused on delivering service, you would think that ‘we’ working together would follow this principal.

Sadly, it seems this is not always the case. Customer service means that when we deliver a service, we do so with respect and care. It means offering help and support that goes above and beyond expectation.  Considering this basic principle that we all deliver so well with our clients, why does it fall apart so often when working together with our suppliers?

I have heard and experienced many examples this past year of event managers ruffling their feathers with suppliers over things that quite simply are laughable. The ‘don’t you know who I am’ card really doesn’t work and sadly, at times, suppliers are faced by aggressive event managers demanding this, that and the other. I must stress that these feather ruffles have not come from anyone at Clearwater Events. We treat everyone in the same way as we would also like to be treated.

Demanding is a good word. As event managers, we are all demanding with our suppliers. We are pushing to get the price down whilst ensuring exacting details for our client’s events. But, demanding can be done in many ways. Having an aggressive attitude with suppliers breeds aggression back to you. Being forceful and dare I say rude only breeds further rudeness and before you know it, all elements of customer service are out the window. Threatening to pull business, or not give business can be a damaging thing, unless it is truly deserved.

As a growing event management and venue finding agency, we aim to work with suppliers that deliver to the same principles as ourselves. Sadly, there are times where suppliers simply don’t ‘get it’ and deliver service that is so extraordinarily bad, it makes my blood literally boil. But, even in these circumstances, there is a right way and wrong way to deal with the situation.

I think we need to have a balancing act. Yes, there are times where we need to be very direct, and assertive and with suppliers. But, directness and assertiveness can often be delivered and perceived as aggressive and rude, both of which are totally unacceptable. You can be the best Event Manager in the world, but it stands for nothing if you can’t be polite and treat your suppliers with respect.

Customer service costs nothing, its free, complimentary and adds value to everyone that experiences it. In these difficult economic times, the one thing we can all offer without damaging cost or profit is customer service.

Free upgrades, room nights, glasses of champagne and being treated like royalty isn’t the norm for us Event Managers anymore and nor should it be. It should be about delivering extraordinary customer service to everyone we touch.