Have you ever called a company to ask a simple question only to receive the run around? Or have you ever gone into a store to purchase a product and the sales person knew nothing about it? Or even worse, has someone sold you something and you asked if the product had a particular feature — only to find out when you got it back to the office — it did not?
So, let me ask you a question: How well do your employees know your products and services? When was the last time you trained them?
Knowing a product, inside and out, is the key to adding value to a customer interaction. Because of the way we do business nowadays (online, over the phone, and face-to-face), EVERYONE in your organization needs to have in-depth product knowledge — no ifs, ands or buts about it. You can have the nicest people in the world working for you but without in-depth product knowledge, they are like zombies taking up space in your organization.
Below are 4 tips to make your training more effective:
Once employees are properly trained, it is important to see how well they retain the information. Employees should be re-tested randomly or have a secret shopper experience to see how well they perform. Consider utilizing computer kiosks if you run a retail operation and ask customers for their feedback about how well the employee knew the product offering.
Lastly, encourage employees to constantly "sharpen their saw". Employees that constantly learn about new product and service offerings, keep a leg up on the competition. Those who attend training sessions are the ones that are going to be the most valuable to you. As they acquire more product knowledge, they can start to see ways in which your own product offerings can be enhanced.
In a nutshell: Train, test, and train again. Simple tactics for a complex world but one that will give value to your customers. After all, isn't that what it's all about?
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Every large meeting and conference has a networking element to it; in which most attendees either love or hate. Most extroverted participants look forward to the networking element especially if they have come to the event multiple times. However, what about the first-time or introverted attendee? How can event meeting services organizations convince them to network?
We are all familiar with the sign to the left. It is everywhere — at the library, fast food establishments and even rest stops along the highway. While this is great for a traveler or a person who wants to scroll through their emails while enjoying a cup of coffee, how does it translate to a meeting of 200 to 1,000 attendees? Probably not very well — mostly out of insufficient knowledge and high expectations by planners and attendees alike.
Let's look at what attendees expect when they come to a meeting, why it may or may not be a reasonable expectation and most importantly, what an event services company can do to meet or exceed those expectations.
When most attendees come to a conference, they expect to receive the same level of Internet service that they would at home or at the office. In other words, they expect great speed and easy navigation into the Wi-Fi system. They don't expect to pay for it either, as they feel that the sponsoring organization should have figured those costs into the registration fee.
They also don't understand why the organization would rent iPads as their smartphone can access everything the iPad can and possibly even more.
The truth of the matter is Wi-Fi access at home or the office is not free. The person or organization pays a bill each and every month. However, somewhere along the line, retail establishments started offering free Wi-Fi and that expectation spilled over into the meeting industry. However, there is a big difference between 10 people at a coffee house connecting to the Internet and 500 individuals simultaneously accessing a bandwidth-intensive application (such as video). While it makes sense to roll a Wi-Fi network array rental into the registration cost, sometimes that is impossible to do until the meeting organizer has a good expectation of how many attendees are coming to the conference. And let's face it, attendees are registering as close to the meeting date as possible. One solution may be to have a sponsor cover the cost of this rental unit.
The reason you can't run all your mobile meeting applications on a smartphone platform is because
Wi-Fi can be complicated because the event organizer needs to know the bandwidth, number of access points at the venue and the number of devices that will be connected to the Internet at any given time. Meeting planners should ask for a detailed Wi-Fi consumption report from a similar event that was hosted at the venue.
Plan to rent iPads if your organization is going paperless for your conference or meeting. iPads have many advantages including a homogenous platform and supports hundreds of thousands of applications.
Here's the good news: AV Event Solutions can provide your next meeting or conference with both iPads and Wi-Fi network arrays! Give them a call today to learn more about their interactive technology tool rentals!
There has been a lot of dialog about crowdsourcing over the last few years and it seems that this planning process for meetings and events may start to take hold. However, is it the right option for each and every meeting and event? Maybe yes and maybe no. As attendees get more vocal and use the technology they hold in the palm of their hand, it will become very apparent that without their input, your meeting is probably doomed. But does it have to be an all-or-nothing approach? It really depends on the objectives and size of the meeting.
Lets explore the 3 types of crowdsourcing used in the event planning industry as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each crowdsourcing option.
1). DEVELOPING SESSIONS REAL TIME
Adrian Segar, author of Conference that Work – Creating Events that People Love, has used this real time methodology since 1992. Conference attendees sign up for individual session requests during the networking portion of the conference — and also indicate if they are subject matter experts on the topic. The sessions that have the most votes are the ones that are presented at the meeting.
Benefit: Total attendee participation. They not only drive the topics but they are the presenters.
Drawback: This could be a logistical nightmare. How do you plan meeting space, renting audio visual equipment, and seating arrangements if you don't know in advance what is going to be presented and how many people will attend each session?
However, this can be handled if you let attendees know in advance what event audio visual equipment will be available to them and you make the meeting rooms and seating arrangements uniform in each room.
Best Scenario: This method is best served in a conference with 10 or 12 sessions. For a very large convention, of say 400 sessions, this process could be difficult to coordinate. This would not work for a very small meeting because you may not have the right facilitator in the crowd.
2). USING AN ONLINE COMMUNITY
Event Camp Twin Cities used the Twitter community of #eventprofs for suggestions of novel session formats and content. Many suggestions were implemented and they created a very innovative conference.
Benefit: Anyone in the event community that follows that hashtag could contribute to the event content, whether they attended Event Camp or not, thus allowing hundreds of individuals to shape the conference.
Drawback: Sifting through hundreds of ideas took a lot of event meeting services time. A team of staffers and volunteers determined the best ideas which could have been risky, depending on their knowledge of the event.
Best Scenario: This method is best served for a conference that needs new ideas and concepts so it can be tagged as fresh, innovative, and attendee-driven.
3). PUTTING TOGETHER AN EVENT DESIGN TEAM
The 2011 Green Meeting Industry Council Sustainability Meetings Conference had such a team for their planning process. They gathered individuals from all walks of life and viewpoints in order to create a diverse agenda.
Benefit: This is much like the way our country is run, where a few hundred Congressmen represents the views of millions. It is a workable solution if your conference needs to be planned in a short time or has several thousand participants.
Drawback: Depending on how these individuals are selected could determine whether or not they represent a truly diverse group that can speak for the best interests of your attendees.
Best Scenario: For a large convention with hundreds of sessions where polling attendees would become unwieldy and/or too time consuming for them.
Two great events were held in Manhattan earlier this year where attendees were provided with wristbands to communicate with event organizers, check-in and vote on various food selections. BizBash magazine recently profiled these two events and the unique way they used RFID and NFC technology. Even though this technology has been around for a long time, it has finally made its way into the event stratosphere and with great success.
RFID is the use of a wireless system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object (in this case a wristband). The tag contains electronically stored information which can be read from up to several yards away.
The Manhattan Cocktail Classic held in May of this year provided guests with a custom Wi-Fi wristband enabled with microchips that guests could tap at 80 different reader stations across 4 floors of NYC's Public Library.
Each guest linked their band directly to their email address and on the following Monday were sent the cocktail recipes they were interested in. In addition, guests could link their wristband directly to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and instantly upload photos from the photo computer kiosk to Facebook. A video wall rental displayed booze-inspired quotes from famous authors that was equipped with a reader so guests could tap it and auto-tweet the quote to their followers.
In the week before the event, The Manhattan Cocktail Classic hosted 4 happy hour events around the city where attendees could pick up their bracelet and staffers would register the guests on iPads. Guests were given a chance to win 2 round-trip airline tickets to London if they would link their Facebook and Twitter accounts to their wrist band.
At Lobster Roll Rumble 2012, guests were given Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled bracelets that allowed guests to link them to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and vote for their favorite lobster roll by tapping their band against a reader box at each vendor's station. The good news is 90% of the more than 1,000 guests voted and 20% linked their bands to their social accounts. The votes were displayed on a large video screen on a real-time basis.
If attendees were linked to social channels, they could tap their wristbands against video walls and check into Facebook or tweet preset phrases shown on the wall.
Near field communication (NFC) establishes radio communication with devices by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters.
At both of these events, the overall attendee feedback was very positive and both organizations plan on perfecting the use of this technology in the future.
AV Event Solutions is a California meeting equipment supplier who can provide your next event with Wi-Fi network arrays, iPads, kiosk rentals and Video Wall rental units. Give them a call today to learn more about their offerings!
Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias™ was recently named by Social Media Marketing magazine as the most followed CMO on Twitter — where he has over 82,000 followers. He recently shared with BizBash magazine the ways he is using social media to build relationships and brand awareness and how this strategy can also be applied to meetings and events.
Below are the highlights from the article, in particular, some effective ways event meeting services organizations can integrate Twitter into their meeting participation strategy.
Rubin has coined the term "Return on Relationship" which he defines in the following way:
ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing. It is about building relationships, emotional connections, trust, and loyalty.
Social channels can help event organizers promote the event before, during, and after the meeting. Here are some of his suggestions:
Rubin believes that Twitter is the best way to network and start a relationship at a face-to-face event. The hashtag (such as #AMA2012) easily identifies your event and attendees can put that hashtag into the search box in Twitter and see all the comments or questions. Twitter also has an excellent search engine so event organizers and attendees can search about the event itself, speakers or sponsors.
He suggests the following Twitter tips:
Even though Rubin is extremely social media savvy, in the end he believes social channels only help you get to know someone better when you finally meet them in person. He is a big proponent of face-to-face meetings and finds social to be just the ticket to get to know them better.
How can AV Event Solutions help make your next event more social? Here are 3 offerings that can help:
Contact AV Event Solutions for all your interactive technology tool rental needs for your next meeting, event or trade show!