We hear the term “customer service” a lot, but what does it really mean? Dictionary.com defines “serve” this way: to be useful or of service to; help. In other words, providing customer service—especially great customer service—as an event coordinator means more than just doing what’s required to check the boxes on an event task list.
You’ve got to be useful to your customers. And to do that, you’ve got to have certain skills and attributes.
Great Customer Service is Essential to Success
Every scheduling department measures success a little differently. For some, it’s executing a particular number of events. For others, it’s about minimizing complaints and maximizing compliments. But however your organization measures it, providing great customer service is key.
In fact, excelling at treating your customers well can help you overcome all kinds of problems that occur in event scheduling—from mechanical issues that make a room unavailable at the last minute to miscommunications about event details.
The bare minimum of customer service in these types of scenarios is apologizing for the inconvenience. If that’s all you do, you can expect angry customers, poor reviews, and lost business. If, on the other hand, you go “above and beyond,” you will probably be forgiven and maybe even commended for your efforts.
For example, imagine that the heat goes out in a meeting room on a cold winter day right as a group arrives for their event. Rather than just shrugging your shoulders, you send one team member off to look for space heaters while another is tasked to see if there’s a way to “create” a meeting room in a large common area if heaters can’t be found. At the same time, you’re on the phone with the building services department to see if the problem can be resolved and heat restored to the room. Plus, you contact your catering group to put them on standby to provide the snack service in a different location if necessary and you talk with housekeeping about getting blankets for attendees in case that can make the room temperature tolerable for the event.
Now, that is great customer service! And even if none of your attempted solutions is successful and the event has to be rescheduled, the customer is likely to be impressed with your hard work on their behalf.
8 Abilities and Personality Traits That Are Crucial in Event Scheduling Departments
What kind of skills and personality traits are essential for event coordinators and others who provide customer service? From our experience in meetings and events, these are the eight most important:
- Empathy. Anyone can understand intellectually that the customer in our example will be disappointed, frustrated, and possibly angry about the situation. But having empathy means you can feel their pain as if it’s your own. Not only is that a strong motivator for doing all you can to fix the situation, but others also can sense when people around them have empathy, and they appreciate it.
- Adaptability. Even events where all the details seemed to be nailed down are, in reality, very fluid. They can turn on a dime and you have to be able to change course with them without missing a beat.
- Problem-solving skills. Adaptability enables you to switch gears smoothly, but then you’ve got to find a workable solution. Event coordination is, in many ways, like solving a puzzle. And you must be able to find a way to complete it when pieces are added or taken away at the last minute.
- Self-control. Whether it’s facility problems or just “problem customers,” your patience and composure will be tested as an event coordinator. Being able to control your urge to lash out at another department, your customer, the weather, or whatever, and instead stay calm, is crucial.
- Excellent communication skills. The information you share with coworkers, customers, and others has to be interpreted by them. If you aren’t clear and concise in what you say or write, you increase the chances that a costly misunderstanding will occur.
- Accountability and humility. Nobody wants to hear somebody place blame when things go poorly or brag when things go well. Great customer service means accepting responsibility when appropriate and sharing credit always.
- Good time management. It's hard to provide outstanding customer service when you’re using the time available to you inefficiently. Being able to prioritize tasks properly and finish them in that order gives you room in your day to be more attentive to meeting hosts and attendees.
- Commitment to continual improvement. People who never think good enough is… good enough… provide the best customer service. They’re always looking for ways to be more helpful, anticipate customer needs, and come up with new solutions to challenges.
The Career Benefits of Providing Great Customer Service
Scheduling departments that understand what great customer service is and work hard to deliver it make their organization look good in the eyes of customers, and many benefits come from developing that kind of reputation. But there are benefits to the individuals providing that service as well.
For instance, it simply makes work more enjoyable when you’re doing all you can for your customers and they’re grateful for that. Providing exceptional service also gets noticed by decision-makers in your organization and can be helpful if you’re looking to advance your career. It can even pave the way for a lateral move if you decide to get out of event scheduling and pursue work in another area.
So, there are many reasons to sharpen the skills listed above and go out of your way to help every host and event attendee have an outstanding experience.