Corporate trivia event entertainment
What makes a great vendor “great?” Whether you need company party entertainment, interactive team building activities, or a corporate game show supplier, finding a reputable service provider means you’re looking for several important factors, among them:
- A compelling, high-quality product
- Experience and expertise
- Depth and breadth of service offerings
- Something unique, memorable and impactful
All of these above traits are important, and I could write individual blog posts devoted to each of them in their own right (in fact, for some I already have). However, it takes more than just being good at what you do to allow you to claim to be a great corporate entertainment vendor, let alone the BEST.
Have you checked out the Yelp or Health Grades ranking of doctors lately? I have, when looking for a specialist. Whether ranked highly or poorly, invariably the reviews are about things OTHER than how “good” or “bad” the doctor’s medical skills and abilities are. You don’t find all that many reviews saying, “he or she diagnosed me with X, and flawlessly performed Y procedure using Z technique.” What you DO find are things like:
- “Gorgeous facility with friendly staff”
- “She saw me right away for an emergency, even though I was a new patient”
- “I had to wait 3 hours in a hot waiting room”
- “He was rude, rushed and seemed preoccupied”
- “Never returned my call”
My point here is that so much of what makes up reputation isn’t WHAT the service provider does, so much as HOW he or she provides it. In my case, producing corporate trivia events and live game show entertainment, this means it’s not just the quality of the events I produce that I need to think about, but HOW I produce them – from responding to the initial inquiry, right up to the post-event recap.
How do you define client service? It’s what separates good from great, that which makes the experience as a whole a truly positive one. It’s the mortar which holds together the bricks of quality product and expertise, without which everything could just collapse. It’s also rapidly becoming a lost art (follow this link for more). Being a fantastic doctor, carpenter, plumber or corporate trivia game show host means nothing if the means by which you supply your service is unprofessional. Don’t believe me? Again, I invite you to check out Yelp.
What are the building blocks of fantastic client service? What are the ways to deliver an exceptional experience to people who are purchasing your product? Before launching TrivWorks, I spent almost ten years working in the service industry: as a shoe store salesman one summer during college, as an account executive at Manhattan PR firms, and finally as a programming director at 92Y, a cultural & community center in New York City. In each of these roles, I was working directly with paying customers, and was taught valuable skills in how to create a wonderful experience – and which I still use every single day now that I am my own boss.
Here is what I strive to deliver to my clients when they sign on with me as their vendor:
Reliability and Dependability
First and foremost, delivering quality service means establishing right off the bat that I can be relied upon to deliver the service I’ve been retained for. There can be absolutely no doubt in my clients’ minds that I will deliver anything less than a professional, high-quality company trivia party; that the questions will be customized to perfection, the emcee and staff I send will be top-notch, and will arrive on time – or at all (seriously – you should hear some of the horror stories I’ve heard from my clients about other vendors…).
How does a vendor like me communicate the fact that I can be trusted to deliver? Simple – by doing what I say I will, when I say I will do it. Right on my Website’s contact form, it says “You will receive a prompt reply.” Well, guess what? The moment an inquiry comes through, I drop what I’m doing and respond. If I can’t respond immediately, you can rest assured I will do so at my very first opportunity. Basically, I follow through: I keep scheduled meetings, provide requested information and documents when I say I will, and keep my word.
Why do I do this? After all, I’m a busy guy – surely my clients will understand if I don’t do EVERYTHING I say I will, or come up short here and there…right?
When a client sees that I am indeed doing everything as promised, this offers a level of reassurance and confidence that they are indeed in capable hands. If I can be relied upon to call when I say I’ll call, to provide a proposal or contract when I say I’ll provide it, there’s a very likely chance that at the event itself, everything else will also go as planned. This is particularly comforting for new clients – let’s be honest, they’re taking a chance on me, not just as a new vendor, but very often as a new activity since not many people have hired corporate trivia suppliers before.
I alluded to this in the above section, however being responsive is perhaps the most important tool I use to build confidence and establish trust with my clients. To me, this is a no-brainer. When a client or prospective client contacts me, about ANYTHING – an event inquiry, a question, a concern, what have you – what do I do?
I respond. Immediately.
To me, nothing says “I care about you, you are important to me” like a prompt response. Whether the matter is urgent or benign, customers want a response. I’ve been on the other side of this situation enough times to know just how frustrating it can be not receiving a timely response, to know that I NEVER want my own customers to feel that way about me (click here for an example).
I was a psychology major in college, and one of the things they hammered into my brain which I still remember is: the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior. When somebody submits an inquiry and I respond within minutes – even SECONDS – the effect is palpable. When I continue to provide that level of responsiveness throughout the sales process and the building of the event, my clients feel like they are being well-attended to. Even if I don’t have the answer they’re seeking (or if what I’m telling them isn’t what they want to hear), at least they know I cared enough to get back to them right away, which communicates volumes about how I conduct business.
Whenever I fill out online forms about my company and there’s a question regarding “Business Hours,” I never say “9am to 5pm” or “Monday through Friday.” My hours are 24/7.
And you know what? I really mean that.
When you sign on with me, I am available – as in, ALWAYS available, completely at your disposal. This is within reason, of course; I do have a family and a life outside producing and hosting trivia team building events. But the message I wish to send to my clients is this: you can always reach me.
Why? Because simply being available is another way to communicate just how much I value my clients’ business, and want to ensure that I deliver an exceptional experience for them. Think about it: what if I said, “Hey, you know what? I think I’m only going to be available during regular business hours – whatever a client needs can wait until then.” That’s all well and good, and I’m sure that on some level my clients would understand. However, they would also likely feel a degree of resentment and frustration, which directly or indirectly may impact their overall feelings about both me and my brand.
Now, imagine I do the opposite. You as my client have to ask or tell me something, and it’s important enough that your Email or call can’t wait until Monday – or even until the morning. And I respond immediately.
Doesn’t that feel nice?
And so, I choose to be available – for EVERYTHING, as much as I reasonably can. If a client sends me an Email at 11pm at night, unless I’m already asleep you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to write back. If I wake up at 8am on a Saturday morning and find a voicemail from a client waiting for me, like I did this morning, I’m going to call the client back just as soon as I’ve had a chance to down some coffee. Being available is a HUGE part of delivering exceptional client service, and helps to set me apart from the competition.
Going the Extra Mile
I have a service contract with my clients, laying out exactly what my responsibilities are. I’m under no obligation to do a single thing beyond what I’ve agreed to, and shouldn’t be expected to, either…right?
For the average corporate entertainer, perhaps; for me, that answer is no.
My job isn’t just to deliver the bullet points I’ve agreed to on a piece of paper, to do the absolute bare minimum to avoid being in breach of contract; rather, it is to ensure that your event participants have an absolutely amazing experience. One of the ways I can do that is by doing MORE than what I’ve signed on to do.
This can take many forms, but for me it most often means providing additional value. For one thing, I can anticipate needs and act proactively, rather than simply waiting for the client to come to me with issues. I’m not contractually obligated to deal with the event venue at all, but you know what? For virtually every gig, I set up and hold a call with the venue, just to make sure everything is all set. Speaking of venues, I also provide recommendations, and even offer to do advance site walk-through if needed.
I used to field a ton of questions from my clients in the days and even hours leading up to an event, on everything from room configuration and AV needs, to what my policy is on gratuity. Then I realized I could save my clients a lot of aggravation and time simply by providing them with a comprehensive production guide, laying out exactly what my event needs are and answering many of the most frequently-asked day-of questions. Little things like that go a long way to setting the clients’ mind at ease, and to helping them get ready for the event.
Too Much Client Service – Is It Possible?
I’ve been planning, producing and hosting team trivia events for corporate groups for over a decade, and genuinely feel that my client service has been just as critical to my success as my skills and abilities as a producer/emcee. However, is it possible to be TOO attentive, responsive and/or available? I’ve never asked myself this question before – until very recently, that is.
I received an inquiry this past week from a prospective client, who was seeking a trivia host to entertain a private party. His event date: just over two weeks away.
As you might expect, I responded with my usual promptness (I just looked at the time stamps on the Emails, actually – I sent my reply exactly two minutes after his initial inquiry came in), and we set up a call at his convenience for early that afternoon. The call went great, the client was extremely pleased with everything I discussed and said he was ready to proceed – but just needed me to send over a proposal right away, which he could share with some of the others planning the party for their sign-off. I told him I would send shortly, but cautioned that given the date was so close, I’d need to know ASAP if he wanted to proceed in order to confirm my availability. He said he understood.
I put the proposal together, and sent it over within an hour.
I sent an Email follow-up the next morning, to confirm he had received; still, no response.
Five hours later, I called him up and was sent directly to voicemail – however, I couldn’t leave a message because his mailbox was full. With time ticking away, I sent another Email, asking him to confirm he had received my proposal. Later that afternoon, he wrote back saying he’d decided to go in another direction. Confused, I wrote back asking why. His response?
He was turned off my by multiple Email follow-ups.
Here I had provided what I thought to be excellent client service: I responded immediately to his initial inquiry, called when I said I would at his time of choosing, and followed through with a prompt proposal – all for a last-minute booking. When I didn’t hear back, I followed up to confirm my Email hadn’t inadvertently gone to “Spam” (which has been known to happen – I wouldn’t want a client waiting on me for something, which I had in fact already sent), then tried to call but was prevented from leaving a message.
Had his event been next month, a follow-up confirmation could have waited; however, he was seeking a date right around the corner, and so I needed to know right away if he wanted to proceed – which can’t happen if the proposal never even made it to his inbox. Whereas every other client I’ve had in similar situations appreciated my courtesy follow-ups, in this case it looks like for whatever reason, my client service skills backfired.
To me, what’s most regrettable about this case is that I know this client would have LOVED my service; it really was a perfect match for what he was looking for, and I could have delivered a killer event for him and his guests. Ironically, had I been LESS attentive here, a bit LESS concerned about my client’s needs and ONLY focused on delivering the trivia party itself, I wouldn’t have sent ANY follow-ups – and very likely closed the sale.
Honestly, I think this case was a fluke; I’ve never before lost a gig for being TOO attentive to ensuring a client received my proposal, never been told by a client that I was being TOO responsive, was TOO available or provided TOO MUCH additional value. In short, I think I did everything I reasonably could to deliver fantastic and professional service, and shall continue to service prospective, new and longtime clients with the highest levels of service I can.
For further reading on how professional vendors like TrivWorks can deliver high-quality client service, visit www.trivworks.com/2017/01/corporate-entertainment-companies-nyc/