I was speaking to a friend last week (a fellow event professional) about a not-so-great experience she had while calling a restaurant to book an event. This friend of mine was interested in setting up a potential party of 30-50, which is a great lead for any restaurant. Unfortunately, the experience was soured when the contact from the restaurant asked her to jot down THEIR email and reach out for packages. Yes, you read that right. The restaurant asked a potential customer to contact them (AGAIN), but this time to use the restaurant’s preferred method of communication. To top it off, the restaurant was about to create even more hurdles by blasting generic packages that may-or-may-not work for her party.
As event professionals, it is our job to remove obstacles for the client and create a smooth road to the booking of a party. I’d love to say the above was an isolated incident, but there are so many planners who put their leads through a ‘boot camp’ of tasks before the client is considered worthy of their time. Now, I understand not all call-in leads turn into sales, and maybe that’s why the phone gets a bad rap. However, consider first impressions and how an initial call could create (or destroy) future business. Say a potential call-in lead falls through. Did you have an amazing conversation with the customer? Could that customer share his or her experience with other customers OR come back to plan an event in the future? Word-of-mouth still stands as one of the most popular ways to refer business. You may not realize, but these first few conversations are laying the groundwork of the relationship with your client and their ability to trust you. We must always be communicating that we are here to LISTEN, HELP and EXECUTE.
Another issue to consider is the method of communication (I speak more on this here). The client may not prefer email. They did call, didn’t they? It is so important to let the client decide the method of communication and honor it. Are calls slightly more time consuming than an email? Sure. Email is also a much easier way for a client to turn YOU down...don’t let leads slip away that easily! Organize a time during the day to call people back that makes sense for you and everyone wins. Taking the easy way out and having the client contact you puts you in a position where you won’t be able to contact them again unless they decide to reach out.
Although emailing general information can be a great tool, it often magnifies the risk of giving your client decision fatigue. As humans, we often can be overwhelmed by options, so much that we end up making a decision based on what is easiest and right in front of us. When clients are being navigated through the event planning process, they will book based on ease. Say you’re planning an event and have narrowed down 4 locations to contact. The first three ask you to hang up, email them and they reply back with packages and materials (aka HOMEWORK). The 4th restaurant offers to listen to your needs, makes suggestions and only sends you relevant information. Where would YOU take your business? If every client is receiving the same details regardless of their needs, they’re not receiving a customized experience and you’re giving an impression of “here is what we have, take it or leave it.” Break down the decision-making process, listen to your client and you will be their go-to in the future.
What are some ways you make your clients feel important when they call in? Do you handle your call-in leads with care? Are you streamlining the process for them? If you like this article, be sure to read my blog post on The FIRST Thing to Do When a Lead Reaches Out. To receive my posts weekly to your email, please subscribe to She Said Celebrate below!