Customer Service

The following resources are excerpts from our Special Events & Protocol blog, which we help will reinforce the importance of unparalleled customer service at each of your events.

Customer Service for the Event Planner

By Laura Pusateri

Certainly, my pleasure

As a former employee of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, I take great pride in learning from whom I consider to be paramount in providing exceptional customer service. At “the Ritz,” as I like to say, we were trained on 20 fundamental basics, ranging from smiling when you answer the phone to (my personal favorite) owning the problem, regardless of whether the issue pertains to you.

And while I can’t comp a Georgia Tech student’s tuition if they are unhappy with a certain service I provide, I do have the opportunity each and every day to provide unparalleled customer service and an unforgettable experience for every Georgia Tech guest. And isn’t that what being an event planner is really all about?

Going the extra mile

As we near the end of spring semester and one of the busiest times of the academic year, I urge us all to think of ways we can exceed expectations and create meaningful opportunities for our guests.

Perhaps it’s by carefully reading the special considerations sections in our RSVP databases and going the extra mile to grant a request for a staff member. Similarly, it might be arranging free parking and special meetings with students for donors who have given significant time and treasure to the Institute.

Your creativity produces limitless opportunities to make an impact on others at your events. 

They’ve got the idea

Two stories come to mind when thinking of using your creativity to make a difference.

  1. The first is from Hotel Indigo, where hotel concierges beat a guest at her own game using customer service.
  2. The second is from the Ritz-Carlton’s Amelia Island property, where a stuffed giraffe named Joshie gets the vacation of a lifetime. Certainly, both stories took time and energy to produce from their employees, but the memories they created will be remembered for a lifetime.
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Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

By Tim Barrett, sales manager at Bold American Events

There are a number of familiar companies that are pinnacle examples of the best customer service in the business: Amazon, American Express, Southwest Airlines, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

What do all of these companies have in common? Putting the customers first.

These employees are known for using “sorry” authentically, practicing a genuine service-style aimed at delivering what each individual customer needs, and recognizing the difference between serving your internal customers versus your external customers.

Customer service can be summed up in five easy steps:

  1. Listen
  2. Be Authentic
  3. Be Responsible
  4. Deliver
  5. Follow Up

Sometimes mistakes happen, though, and customer recovery is a huge part of serving your customers, and guaranteeing an ultimately successful and enriching experience for both you, and your client.

To recover from an unsatisfying experience, use the “100% Principle”:

  1. Own It
  2. Confirm
  3. Communication
  4. Begin to Fix It
  5. Involve Others
  6. Update
  7. Resolve & Tell
  8. Follow Up

Ultimately, customer service is all about appreciating those face-to-face, in-person interactions, where you can begin to build those personal connections, and guarantee a wonderful experience for your customers.

For us event coordinators, there is an abbreviated Golden Rule followed by all who feel it is an honor to serve their customers…Be nice!

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The Art of Making Events Special

Making your guests feel special doesn’t have to take a lot of money and time – it just takes some creative brainstorming and a genuine desire to understand your audience.

Here are some ways that the Special Events and Protocol team adds special touches. Perhaps you'll find some ideas to inspire your next event.

At Commencement, we try to make the families of our graduates feel special and loved by producing a short video thanking them for all their support during their student’s Tech career.

We also listened to each graduate’s unique story or request and did all we could to make their visit exceptional, whether it was sending Buzz in the stands for a photograph, arranging special seating for their grandmother, or securing a unique memento for them after the ceremony.

When brainstorming what we can do to make an event more meaningful and special, we ask what would be most important to our target audience and most pleasantly unexpected?

A colleague at Perdue University once recounted a time she was asked to pick up a major donor from the airport. She relayed that she could have easily picked him up herself without any major fanfare, but knew this donor loved his alma mater and all things old gold and black, so she brought the mascot with her to welcome him back to Perdue.

That decision, however easy and cost-free, made a huge impact on her donor, who continued to generously give to the university.

Whether it’s coordinating a special ride in the Ramblin’ Wreck for a retiring colleague or surprising an award recipient with his/her family members at the awards banquet, we can all make those we serve feel a little more valued both during and after they’ve left our events.

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A Small Act = A Big Impression

Here is a wonderful example of customer service and attention to detail: 

At the Dean Griffin Day Luncheon, each guest was greeted to an individually wrapped goodie, adorned with a handwritten thank you from the Student Ambassadors.

These special students, who at the time were engrossed with finals preparations, papers, and projects, took the time to personally thank over 250 faculty and staff for their dedication to teaching.

The Student Ambassadors demonstrated a simple lesson that I think we can all keep in mind as we plan our events - taking time to create a personalized experience can yield some of the largest rewards.