Make Customer Service King of Your Fundraising Event

Make Customer Service King of Your Fundraising Event

The experience attendees have at your event is based upon each and every interaction they have.  From the moment they arrive until the moment they checkout, every volunteer and staff member at your fundraising event is helping set the tone for the evening and shaping your guests’ perceptions of how things went.

And while it is nearly impossible to make everyone in a 300-person crowd happy, it is possible to set an event-wide tone of customer service and success. Good customer service can make people forget the most egregious of errors, while bad customer service can turn the most innocuous of molehills into mountains.

Take, for example, the experience my wife, Michele, and I had on our honeymoon at an eco-resort on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. We knew in advance that our villa came with a CD player and surround-sound system, so we brought a sleeve of CDs to listen to on the trip. One night, well into our trip, we were blasting music and dancing around the main room of our villa.

There was a knock at the door, and when we opened it we found one of the resort staff members flanked by security personnel. He cocked his ear to one side, and then said to one of his compatriots, “Really? This is the right room? Well, I can hardly believe it myself, but one of your neighbors has complained about your music being too loud. I hate to trouble you, but would you mind turning it down a bit?”

Brilliant! I’d never felt so good about being asked to turn my stereo down, and I’d never heard anyone else make such an ask so artfully. I only wish I’d had his example to draw upon back when I was an R.A. in the dorms at U.C. Berkeley.

Contrast that with the sound guy I saw at a recent event. He hadn’t brought adequate equipment to cover the needs of the event, and was forced to crank up the volume on the only two speakers he had. Furthermore, he’d set up his speakers so they were aiming right at the tables in front of them. At head level. And these were potential big bidders.

As soon as one table realized that the speakers were going to be aimed at their heads all night long, they got up and redirected the speaker so that it no longer aimed at them – or anyone else in the audience, for that matter. When the sound guy realized this, he went over and turned the speaker back towards the table without saying a word.

As he was passing their table, someone at the table asked the sound guy if he could turn it down a bit. Without breaking stride, he turned his head and sneered, “No!” and went back to his mixing board. Everyone at the table was shocked. I was shocked. It was a level of rude that no one expected, especially in an event setting like that.

I tried to smooth things over with the table by offering a solution of moving their table away from the speaker and closer to the dance floor. It helped, but it didn’t fix things one-hundred percent. It certainly didn’t change the tone the sound guy had set when he snapped at them.

The screaming sound guy may be an extreme example, but it doesn’t take much to impact a guest’s mood at an event. All it takes is one rude waiter, a volunteer who is too focused on their assigned task to answer a quick question, or bartenders who spend more time chatting with themselves than interacting with attendees to turn one person off. And at an auction, the way people vote is with their paddle – or by withholding use of it.

Empower you staff, volunteers and vendors to create an atmosphere of positive customer service at your event. Each of them has the potential to make your event great for each and every attendee; especially if something goes wrong. The customer service they provide will define attendees’ experience. It will also impact the amount of money you raise, either the night-of, or at future events.

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