Published: 27 Apr 2015

Have you said ‘thank you’ today?

In the final edition of the NEC’s current series of blogs for Exhibition News, the NEC's Marketing Director Martin Clarke explains the importance of appreciation.

Take a minute to consider this: who have you said “thank you” to today?

Appreciation is such a simple, yet powerful employee engagement tool – customer service starts from within, and if you feel appreciated, you’ll deliver more.

Whilst it’s the end result that we tend to focus on - the success of the show, the exhibition, the conference, the product/service launch, number of attendees, footfall, sales/profit – it’s worth taking time to understand what actually contributed to that success and why. 

As the famous management guru Peter Drucker is credited with saying, “what gets measured gets managed.”

Gathering data and having a robust feedback mechanism is crucial to building such an important de-brief process into your business model, because as Bill Gates said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Understanding this and - importantly - exceeding it next time will assist in leveraging your Net Promoter Score (NPS) and be a snowball effect to on-going success.

A Net Promoter Programme can help get the customer intelligence you need, identify and repair relationships, turn ‘satisfied passives’ into happy promoters who boost loyalty and enthusiasm and drive additional revenue for business – but NPS is not a project; it is an approach to collecting and using customer feedback that changes forever the way customer understanding is incorporated into business.

That’s the business-focus way of looking at this, but what about staff and their support to enable each event to be a success. For some, it’s about creating a shared desire to improve, using the things that didn’t go so well as motivation to get better, and celebrating that achievement. Great customer service is synonymous with exemplary employee engagement.

It all starts at the very beginning, and by recruiting for attitude and instilling the right behaviours and expectations that befit your own organisation’s ethics, vision and goals, you create the building blocks for growth and on-going success. How often do you review your “on-boarding process” from advert to candidate induction and through first weeks/months in the job? By asking ourselves “is that how we would want to be welcomed into our new role?” is a good starting point. If the answer is “yes”, it’s likely that your new recruit will deliver the great things that are expected of them from day one.

From then on it’s about communication - and even more communication - to ensure that staff feel engaged, valued and appreciated. At the NEC Group, staff are rewarded for their efforts and recognised at national level through awards. Internally, if teams are judged to be exceptional and score 100% in the Mystery Shopper, they automatically get nominated for an NEC Group annual award.

Ghandi’s customer service speech below is great inspiration when considering your own staff as well as your customers:

A customer [staff member] is the most important visitor [employee] on our premises;

He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.

He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it.

He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.

We are not doing him a favour by serving [employing] him.

He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.

(Mahatma Gandhi)

Ultimately, we’re only as good as the people we work with, and throughout our industry we’re working towards the same thing – getting our customers to return to our venues.

Martin Clarke, NEC Marketing Director