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Customer relationships are meat and drink to Gary Chapman, he runs a consultancy company that trains and informs corporate organizations about Customer Relationship Management (CRM). His company runs public seminars around the country on a weekly basis, dealing with thousands of delegates every year; here is his advice to you if you are planning a similar event. The registration process may be your first opportunity to connect personally with a customer and demonstrate to them what your values and standards are. Like all relationships, we generally judge what someone is like in the first 60 seconds and this is no different. You should consider each delegate as a potential lifetime friend who you are meeting for the first time and you should give them absolutely no cause to question your professionalism. If this is the first time you have run an event and your admin staff have not yet cut their teeth either on delegates or on the product (the event), take plenty of time to script everything from the first telephone answer to the most awkward set of requests and questions you can think up. Give your people a chance to role-play those first 60 seconds until it becomes absolutely second nature. Answer before the first ring Consider what standards your admin team ought to be meeting. One organization demands that all of its telephones are answered ‘on or before the first ring’ to demonstrate its urgency and alertness. ‘Hey! That’s not physically possible’, I hear you say. Well, some telephone systems ring first at the receiving end before the caller hears the first ring in their ear, meaning that if you pick up after the first ring, the caller won’t hear a ring. Although that can be a bit scary, you may want to set your standard around 3 rings and stick to it. There are all sorts of other standards that are worth discussing with the admin team to ensure that your customers get a good standard of service: ‘ call-back within a promised timescale ‘ paperwork posted within 8 working hours ‘ emails sent within 4 working hours ‘ database up to date at the end of each working day ‘ payment reminders sent out 21 days, 28 days and 35 days after registration Having set standards, make sure there is an easy way of checking that they are being adhered to. It is better that the admin team has their own monitoring system that you can check from time-to-time than to have big brother/sister keeping a permanent watchful eye on standards. Gary Chapman also encourages his Admin Team to treat one another in the same way, using the same standards that they would use with an external customer. This way you actually remove stress and conflict as there is no potential to make a wrong decision. ‘What’s the point of double standards?’ asks Gary ‘Any reasoning person, given the choice, would choose the easier option. That’s how standards slip. We don’t give ourselves the choice!’ Event Delegates Are Lifetime Friends

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