Why Exhibitor Customer Service Matters
It is true that in any industry, relationships are essential to business getting done. With B2B events, you have exhibitors (your customers) and attendees (your customer’s customers), and on both sides of the aisle, retaining customers is far less expensive than acquiring them. However, trying to focus efforts on advancing sales can be a bit tricky when unforeseen circumstances happen.
Being able to provide your customers with unparalleled customer service should be at the top of your list when searching for an event provider. Shepard’s Blue Diamond Customer Service promise means dedicated exhibitor services come standard for any event we work on, regardless of size or scope.
Shepard’s Approach to Exhibitor Services
Meet the Leaders
Led by Jessica Dominguez and Amber Singleton, co-Directors of Customer Service, with 22 years of working for Shepard and hundreds of events between them, both credit having worked in various departments as the reason they are able to train and provide such high levels of service for Shepard’s customers.
“I started as a temp,” explains Singleton. “I came in and I was doing grunt work. I was just happy to be a part of this industry. It wasn’t something I had ever really heard of before. I had seen trade shows and had been on the exhibitor side, but had no idea of what it took to put on the actual trade show.” Singleton says it was through her own experience as an exhibitor that helped her understand how to serve Shepard’s customers.
The top qualities they look for in an ideal candidate are problem solving, professionalism, great communication skills, an approachable personality, an ability to think quickly and focus on solutions, or as Jessica puts it, “We’re professional improvisers.”
The key to successful customer interactions is being able to remain calm and deescalate any situation. “When there is an issue onsite, exhibitors want to be heard. Of course, their needs have to be understood and met, but at the heart of it all, they need to feel human and like we care. And we do.” says Dominguez.
“We see them as people first. Maybe they had flight delays getting to the host city, maybe they have personal stuff going on, maybe they are jet-lagged – whatever it may be – we take a nurturing approach – do they need water, a comfortable seat, some fresh air? We want to provide an environment where we can show them we’re on their side. We WANT to help them have a great show and we’ll do whatever it takes to help them out.” Dominguez says this is the key to being able to focus on providing solutions for exhibitors in need onsite.
Discover the Tools
Over time, and on the fly is how Dominguez and Singleton approach training new customer service representatives (CSRs). While comprehensive online resources are provided as part of all new-hire onboarding, the most effective method to get CSRs ramped up involves direct onsite experience: shadowing, attending to actual customers, and understanding the show organizer resources available to exhibitors.
“We never just throw someone into the deep end – never.” explains Dominguez. “They always travel with a mentor, someone who can show them the ropes, and learn by watching them in action. Every single event and interaction is different; so we work on developing an understanding of client needs, event terminology, and the ways each department’s dependencies can contribute to educating exhibitors and helping them work out issues with their booth set-up.”
Over the years, technology has played an important role in Shepard being able to serve their clients’ exhibitor communities more effectively. From utilizing mobile apps like WaitWhile, Shepard is able to add exhibitors to a virtual queue, allowing them to be productive while they wait for answers on their freight, booth decor, electrical, and other set-up services. This summer, Shepard will give clients the opportunity to implement instant messaging via 42Chat’s ExhibitorBot, allowing exhibitors to access specifics from the service manual in mere seconds.
“Reducing wait times and delivering pivotal information to exhibitors is the difference between starting a show off on the right foot and not. Technology changes the game on a whole new level; now, Shepard can service hundreds of exhibitors simultaneously, in a few minutes, thus propelling everything forward for the good of the show” notes Singleton.
Tips for Show Organizers
By working with show organizers for over a century, Shepard has several competitive advantages, one being that we can integrate seamlessly into any onsite team structure. According to both Dominguez and Singleton, there are some keys for event organizers to ensuring that integration is successful.
Educating your exhibitors so they know who the service team is, how to find them, how to interact with them. Shepard is seeing more first-time exhibitors than ever before, so don’t assume they know what a marshaling yard is, what drayage entails, and that there are unions serving a large contingency of convention centers and event venues.
Let Shepard know what’s going right and what we can do more of. Let us know areas where help and clarification is needed. A little goes a long way.
Utilizing the event technology available to manage requests, solve problems, and ensure proper attention is given to your customer.
When Shepard has the opportunity to work with clients on the same event over time, we send the same service team members to work the show. Both Dominguez and Singleton note that familiar feeling when you walk into the service department and recognize someone who has helped you over the years creates that instant connection and establishes a shorthand unparalleled to any other experience.
“We work really hard to work well with your customers, which in turn, allows you to be able to focus on delivering the best experience possible for your attendees. There really is no better way to team up. We love to see repeat customers for this reason.” states Singleton.
Ready to take your exhibitor customer service to the next level? Contact us today to get started!