You want your employees to focus on sales and service, no matter what their roles are.
EVERYONE IN THE MEETING INDUSTRY IS ALSO IN SALES AND IN CUSTOMER SERVICE. You’re in the business of selling someone on the event at hand. You’re in the business of selling ideas. You’re in the business of growing membership.
At the core of every business are customers and clients. If you’re an association, you serve your members. If you’re a corporation, you serve your internal teams and your external customers, be that business-to-business or business-to-client. Your role in “sales” keeps you focused on the “buyer” and the one core aspect that drives growth and sustainability for your organization.
Take this a step further, and you’ll find that everyone in your organization is also in customer service. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, says he’s in the customer service department. It’s on his business card, and it’s time for you to adopt the same sentiment.
I tell this to marketing, sales, finance and human resources. When you experience organizations that operate with this mindset, you know immediately, like I did at the JW Marriott in Orlando, Florida. I was the keynote speaker at the national Public Relations Society of America annual event (for PR speakers). My jacket was new, I’d forgotten to cut out the little threads that hold the pockets closed and I wanted to fix that before going onstage.
Willie, an employee on the JW Marriott staff who was not in the hotel’s jacket tailoring department (I believe he was checking coffee levels), rushed over when he saw me fidgeting and said he could run the jacket over to laundry services. When I politely declined (because I was worried that I’d hear “Please welcome, Chris Brogan” while Willie was running down the hallway), he was reluctant to give me the jacket back. Service was his No. 1 job, and the No. 1 job of every person at his organization.
That’s the way you want your organization to be. You want your employees to be focused on sales and service for every customer, no matter their roles.
Social networks (Twitter, Google+, Facebook) make this concept even more essential. These days, prospects frequently ask questions via these services. They want to better understand opportunities. They seek out help with a product or service.
I’ve searched conference hashtags on Twitter before, and quite often find customer service issues—booth exhibitors complaining that the Wi-Fi is down. Imagine the difference between solving that problem immediately based on the tweet as opposed to solving the problem hours later. Imagine being able to help delegates with their simplest and most challenging needs, by monitoring and responding to the stream of information they readily put out for your attention.
The opportunity is vast.
Showing your team how to listen for opportunity is a great way to learn how to bring about even better results. Start on a site like Google+. Post useful how-to information about your organization and your products. If there’s a really tricky-at-first way of using your inventory system, for instance, shoot a screencast and post it on Google+ as a YouTube video. If you have instructions for delegates at an event, do the same.
On Facebook, you can respond back and forth to comments and questions. An event I’m speaking at has a Facebook group specifically for the speakers, and the questions in there are geared toward the action that will happen on the stage (can I use my own Mac?). Because it’s a free tool that most people have an account to use, it’s a lot easier to interaction there instead of via email or on some other service.
Bonus: When you use a social networking tool to handle peer information distribution, people tend to help solve each other’s problems. In the above example, someone posted about needing a specific piece of hardware for a presentation, and another speaker offered his own product. The community manager for the event didn’t have to get involved. The more problems that peers can solve for each other, the less you have to worry about. Brilliant, eh?
People are already talking about all of this on social networks, whether or not you’re ready to address it. They complain about your competitors (an opportunity for you to help them better) and about you (an opportunity for service). Get in, learn how to help your potential buyers and existing customers, and bring them success. It matters a lot. One+
One+ December 2011,