Are you really exceeding event expectations?

Alex Palmer, Events Director at @KinaEvents looks at how we can always improve our events and how we must challenge ourselves to think differently.

I have long been fascinated by customer service in, I admit, a slightly geeky way. In my opinion, terrible customer service is widespread in the UK – we deserve better! – it gets me really hot under the collar.

Personally, I’ve always held the view that, no matter what job you’re doing, you should do it to the best of your abilities. I don’t care whether you’re the Prime Minister or whether you flip burgers in McDonald’s – it doesn’t matter.

Take pride in yourself and your work, no matter what you do! You owe it to yourself and your self-respect. An old-fashioned view, perhaps.

As a result, I often notice press items about this sort of topic. I recently read an article in Metro that grabbed my interest. It was an article about exceeding customer expectations, hailing in its title: “This might just be the best Uber driver ever”.

Needless to say, I was hooked immediately. Everyone that uses the Uber cab service has a few comedy tales and a few horror stories to tell. So, I wasn’t sure where they were going with the feature…!

The article explained that this particular driver had a ‘roll-up organiser’ (the type of thing you see advertised to hang toiletries and jewellery on the back of a door) full of ‘handy items’ for his passengers.

The driver had added a couple of sticky labels with hand-written text that read ‘Feel free to take what you need!  5* ratings always appreciated!  Have a great day!’.

The complimentary items included plasters, mints, stomach-settlers, lip balm, hairgrips, safety pins, tissues, a lint roller, as well as various others. He even had a ‘discreetly labelled’ section that clearly contained feminine hygiene products (clue = a female hand-drawn stick figure on the label) and one that featured a ‘heart’ icon (presumably containing, um, let’s call them ‘heat of the moment’ family planning items). Genius.

This is my kind of guy. I want him to be my Uber driver, always.

Clearly he was shamelessly after your 5* ratings, but I can imagine that it works.

If I had seen this, he would have had my 5* rating too. Why?

Well, this simple offering in his cab goes ‘above and beyond’ what you would normally (ever) expect from a cab. Apart from the ludicrous convenience of effectively having a corner shop at your seat, what impressed me was that the driver was aware that people take taxis in all kinds of situations – late for a meeting (lint roller, mints), because their shoes hurt and they just can’t walk any more (plasters), and at the end of a drunken night out too (ahem).

He’s not just going to drive you from A to B, he’s going to think about what your mindset is when you get in the cab to begin with. And he’s going to offer some simple items that might make your day, save your day, or at the very least, make you smile – and show that he cares.

He spent time and effort putting his ‘handy items kit’ together, even though some of his customers (I’m sure) are a royal pain in the **** and are not worth his effort.

The reason this article grabbed me, as an events professional, was simple. There are lots of elements to managing any event – you have to multi-task and keep many ‘balls in the air’. You have to be on top of everything. There’s a lot going on, always.

However, in the midst of the planning and the event itself, the vast majority of us are instinctively ‘looking’ at the event with our own eyes. It’s hard to remember that the event can look very different from the other (customer/client) side.

The article, and the example of the driver, was challenging in its simplicity. It was a tangible reminder to put your customer (or client) experience first, and to take the time to think about what that really means. If you do, you really have the power to impress.

A question for you – when was the last time you thought about if you are really exceeding event expectations in this kind of way?

I don’t just mean pleasing and delighting your clients, not amply and comfortably meeting expectations, on a regular basis. Doubtless, you know what you’re doing. Of course you do. It’s your job. Your clients and contacts are happy. Job done. Time to kick back, relax, and bask in all the lovely praise and feedback.

However – and here’s the rub – are you really exceeding expectations in a way that makes your customers think ‘wow’?

For me, reading about this Uber driver was deeply humbling. No matter how good we all think we are at our jobs, we each have a lot to learn and to think about from (what I will now call) ‘Uber-man’.

Superman, watch out!


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