By Guy Mason, managing director, Brief2Event
If you were to ask your clients what mattered most about doing business with a new supplier, personal service would undoubtedly rate highly among their answers.
Delivering personal customer service is incredibly powerful and can be the difference between a customer forgetting about you once a project is over and that same person returning to be a customer for life.
Sadly, with the growth of large superstores for example, the personal touch in retail has become a thing of the past as local specialised shops have been forced to close down, losing out to their larger, cheaper rivals.
The meetings and events industry has seen a similar trend. As a small corporate hotel booking, venue finding and event management service that has been running for over a decade we have seen a rise in the number of online competitors who have seemingly new and fast ways of doing business. These disintermediaries, companies that are new in our competitor set, are growing so fast that, arguably, they run the risk of losing the personal service element.
Personal service is all about having a face and being a real person, and identifying common ground with customers also humanises the relationship. It’s so important to maintain this. Many companies are going back to this now and moving away from hyper-efficient apps and services. Back to the supermarket analogy; we are shopping more regularly than ever in small specialised shops.
How can you cater properly to your customers’ needs, if you’re not actively listening to them? Listening to their briefs to ensure you come up with solutions to suit their challenges or working with them to deliver a service that is second to none.
The key for us is being able to combine our brand of service with our technological tools. We have worked very hard on getting that balance right, and using technology and apps to make the process run smoother, rather than relying on it to communicate for you.
Personal service is all about making your customers feel like they are doing business with a human, not a company. With recent surveys including one by Harris Interactive finding that 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent, this has never been more important and we urge other businesses not to forget this simple effect. Many of the big boy supermarkets over expanded both online and in their high street presence and fell at the hurdle. Disintermediaries are sure to find that in this sector personal service and ability to advise in a complex business buying process cannot be commoditised.