In their eagerness to create exciting live-event experiences, entrepreneurs often focus on thrills and features and all but forget the personal touches that resonate with customers and sponsors. Unfortunately, these entrepreneurs miss out on opportunities to build loud and loyal advocates.
If this was ever you, and you're now ready to bring the focus back to your customers and sponsors, consider five moves by Chick-fil-A, a famously customer-pleasing company -- and not just because of its chicken.
Here’s a look at how entrepreneurs can garner brand loyalty among their corporate sponsors by following in the chicken chain's customer-satisfaction footsteps:
1. Exceed expectations.
If it’s raining, Chick-fil-A may very well send out an attendant with an umbrella to walk you into the restaurant. When you sit down to your meal, you’ll be eating at a table set with fresh flowers. These extra-mile details set Chick-fil-A apart from its competition.
Entrepreneurs need to follow suit when planning their events, by identifying expectations and blasting through them. What are you doing to show love to your core customers? How can you improve upon their expectations from the last event, to make the next one even more special?
2. Make every word matter.
Within the quick-service restaurant format, Chick-fil-A excels at providing a personalized experience. Attendants use the phrase “It’s my pleasure” instead of “You’re welcome,” and when orders are ready, they call out customers’ names instead of their ticket numbers.
Take a page from the Chick-fil-A guidebook and train your staff to use language that goes beyond the ordinary. Try saying, “It’s my pleasure” rather than “You’re welcome.” Use new phrases such as “What can I do for you today?” or “How can I make your day a better one?” to bring the focus back to deepening your connection with the attendee, exhibitor or sponsor.
3. Never stop improving your registration process.
Even during rush times, Chick-fil-A maintains an orderly and fast-moving line inside the store and through the drive-through. This efficiency is no accident; it’s an important way to make guests feel welcome and taken care of.
This mission extends to shows. In most companies, organizers use a conventional registration process, when a more efficient one is available. Consider all the information attendees need in order to register. Is it necessary? Do you plan to use those insights in a meaningful way? Monitor the registration process to look for any possible improvements, and research ways to make registration efficient and easy.
4. Prioritize human connections.
After Auburn University defeated the University of Georgia one season, fans phoned orders into their local Chick-fil-A store right before it closed. The restaurant stayed open to facilitate their request, and when the manager discovered that the callers were disheartened Georgia fans, he gave them meals on the house. It’s that kind of personal, relatable touch that binds a customer to your brand for life.
Most event organizers pull together events that resonate with the professional desires of their attendees. But what have you done lately to connect with your customers on a human level, beyond the purpose of the event? Make that connection by investing in an unforgettable experience that can be easily captured on video and shared across social networks.
5. Recognize loyal customers.
When Chick-fil-A opens a new restaurant, the company reaches out to its core fan base to invite them to a free pre-opening meal. At the pre-opening, the company distributes coupons for 10 free sandwiches, reinforcing customers’ brand ambassadorship.
Event organizers can appropriate this technique in a significant way by recognizing attendees who regularly come to their events. Go a step further than just adding a ribbon to these individuals' name badges; invite loyal VIP attendees to a special reception with your board of directors. Treat them as extensions of your team, and they’ll be eager to spread the word.
When you look at Chick-fil-A's strategy as a whole, it's actually doing nothing new. The company thinks through its customer experience and adds extra touches that exceed expectations, drive loyalty and inspire advocacy. By adopting this approach to customer service, entrepreneurs will be able to maintain strong and sustainable relationships with corporate sponsors and customers.