How To Wow Event Planning Clients with Customer Service: Part One!
This month, our QC Event School tutor, Heather Vickery, tells us how to provide the best customer service to event planning clients. Heather is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.
As we all know, wedding season is in full swing. With any luck, your phones are ringing off the hook and your email is dinging non-stop. It is wonderful to have potential clients calling in. There is no business without inquiries, after all, but none of it matters if your follow up and customer service is not up to par.
In this post, I will be sharing several fantastic tips for booking new clients and keeping them happy. While nearly everything revolves around customer service, there are some systems, strategies, and boundaries that can really help you take things to the next level.
Getting engaged is exciting. Potential clients are reaching out because they need help planning their dream wedding, and if they have to wait a long time for a planner to get back to their initial request, it is a complete downer. First impressions are so very important. How and how quickly you respond to an initial inquiry could be what sets you apart from your competition. I have had many clients throughout the years say they took the next step with me because I was the first person to get back to them.
Now, once you meet in person you have to be on your A-game for sure. You need to be valuable and trustworthy. The clients need to know that you are going to take care of them. But the very first step is responding to that initial request.
Because clients are excited to begin this process, there is a lot of value in managing their expectations right off the bat. I suggest an auto-responder for any time you are away from your computer or after hours. The message can be simple…
“Thank you for contacting Greatest Expectations. We are looking forward to connecting with you. Our normal office hours are 10am—3pm Tuesday—Friday. If you have reached us within those hours we are currently serving other customers. If you have reached us outside of those hours, we will get back to you as soon as we return to the office.”
Doing this will ensure the potential client that you are not ignoring them and will get back to them shortly. Not to mention, it is helpful for current clients also.
Find a good fit
I typically respond to the client in the same format they originally reached out. If they sent an email, I respond with an email. If they left a voicemail, I return the call. It is important to remember, however, that no sale ever happens outside of a conversation. Even when I follow up an inquiry with an email, I request a quick phone call to ensure we are a good fit and then request an in-person meeting. I remind the clients that hiring a wedding planner is a very personal thing.
The clients need to like me enough to spend the next 8 months to a year with me. They need to want to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine with me. There are a lot of planners out there, and that means there is someone for everyone—- it serves no one to book a client that is not a good fit. This is why meeting in person is so very important.
Detail your proposal
Once I have met with the potential clients, I produce a detailed proposal based on their specific needs and what I think makes the most sense for them. I do not oversell my clients—I give them exactly what they need. But it is important not to undersell them (or yourself) either.
Be sure you step back and really think about the time involved in planning this event. Charge appropriately for the work you will be doing and the time spent. I am always very clear with people about when they should expect my proposal. I often say “you’ll have my proposal within a week. If I can get it to you before then I will.” I always like to under promise and over deliver.
We’ve got more advice! Stay tuned for Part Two of Heather’s guide on giving your event planning clients exceptional customer service…