Customer Experience (CX) is one of the most common buzzwords used by marketers.
CX in essence is about putting customer needs at the centre of what a company does. Simply put, customer needs must be fulfilled throughout a customer journey i.e. a journey that a customer takes when interacting with a company or brand from the get go.
Each touch point of the journey is a building block to improving customer buying experience. To achieve this, CX ecosystem such as enabling teams (more often the whole company), technologies, processes and procedures must be established.
Bringing this closer to home – event marketing world, customer journey is described as prospect’s interaction with an event or organiser starting from his/her first to last encounter.
In the event marketing context, CX touch points can be grouped into the three stages of event lifecycle: pre event, during event and post event.
This article discusses some of the major processes, touchpoints and ecosystem required to create a delightful CX experience during the pre-event stage.
Stay tuned for the next upcoming instalments on during and post event CX delivery.
There are two major processes within the pre-event stage. These processes are: attendee recruitment and ‘in-between’ engagement. Within each of these processes, there are multiple touch points.
Digital channels such as SEO driven websites, targeted display adverts, re-targeting and social media, are some of the most commonly used tools in attendee recruitment campaign.
Trackable data such as digital behaviours, personal interests and motivational drivers are powerful building blocks in creating a look-alike customer profile. A look-alike customer profile can then be used to refine attendee acquisition campaigns.
Touch point#1: Websites and advertisements
Websites or advertisements are usually the first touch points where prospects learn about an event. These first encounters generally set the tone for the rest of attendee’s journey hence it is imperative to set the right tone right from the beginning. This can be done through highly motivational/emotional driven content.
With an emotionally charged statement “escape the rat race and start living the life you really deserve”, Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad Company has been known for its ability to achieve its event registration targets.
The same thing goes to conference websites. Forbes Women’s Summit 2016 utilised an empowering theme #REDEFINEPOWER” at its website to encourage women around the world to step up and support each other to realise their potentials. The theme was further amplified by inspiring images and video showcasing the epitome of femininity and strength.
The results spoke for themselves! Registration target was achieved; women rose up and supported each other in their journeys for new heights.
Forrester in its US 2017 Customer Experience Index report has also stated that emotions play a massive role in creating superior CX. “If brands want to break away from the pack and become CX leaders, they must focus on emotion”.
Touch point #2: Event personnel
Event personnel are the most critical touch points in attendee recruitment process. Prospects want to feel important and valued when voicing out their thoughts and concerns with the team. In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie unpacked this notion and shared some mind-boggling results in overcoming objections and winning people. Imagine how many more registrations one could win by putting this into practice.
Let’s look at how to empower event personnel to create a delightful CX.
Employee satisfaction and engagement
Studies have shown that companies who deliver superior CX significantly better than their competitors have more engaged employees. These companies have 60% more engaged employees than their least performing counterparts.
What is engagement and how does this help in creating superior CX?
Engagement comes from feeling good about one’s work and the company. These positive feelings and attachments propel employees in delivering superior customer engagement.
Should an organisation decides to outsource its customer facing team to a third party, it is imperative to ensure that there is a synergy of values between the organisation and its extension.
Touch point #3: Social media
More often nowadays, attendee recruitments are performed on social media platforms such as facebook and twitter. These channels are particularly effective when millennials are the target audience.
Pay attention to the tone of voice that is used throughout these platforms. Tone of voice is defined by how a brand or event likes be perceived by its prospects.
Hillsong church in Australia has been known for its prowness in organising spiritually and emotionally gripping annual conferences around the globe. Thanks to its sassy, inspirational and “millennial speak” content on facebook and Twitter, the church was able to command over 40K impressions and potential registrations
An organiser may also consider using social media platform as a listening post and customer servicing platform in conjunction with call centres. This practice will provide a 3600 feedback loop to ensure a delivery of delightful CX in the omni channel world.
The ‘in-between’ engagement
One of the most neglected process in executing an event or conference is the in-between engagement. The ‘in-between’ engagement is defined as an engagement activities which take place time between registration completion and event attendance.
Touch point #4 Personalised messages
Attendees are often left un-engaged until the day of the event either through cookie cutter communications or communication MIA. Personalised messages can be utilised to ensure delegates are made feel valued and secured about their event purchases.
Content of personalised messages could incorporate individualised hopes or expectations one could gain through attending a particular event or conference. Personalised messages are made possible through data collected in the beginning of the registration process such as personal interests and motivational drivers.
Sophisticated cloud based softwares such as Emarsys and Salesforce tribal enhanced by AI could make a lot of difference in producing quality personalised messages.
To create deeper engagement with returning attendees, consider adding additional data layers such as past content viewing and spending habit. This data could be obtained from event apps and be combined with previous data stored in an organiser’s database to produce richer and holistic understanding about returning attendees.
Touch point #5 online community & User Generated Content (UGC)
When it comes to crafting a delightful CX, attendee inputs play a crucial role. As discussed previously, people like to feel valued and attendee inputs can help achieve this.
There are a couple of ways to generate attendee inputs:
Attendees are asked what they want to learn, or what they liked/disliked about previous conferences
UGC or social polling
Attendees are asked for their thoughts or feelings on certain subject matter. In its 2016 annual conference, Ulta Beauty created a website where its employees were encouraged to submit a video of their best Karaoke gigs. The co-workers were given opportunities to vote on the best performing gigs and finalists were awarded opportunities to perform at the conference – similar to the American Idols style. The results were astonishing! The website generated strong pre and during conference engagement.
Touch point #6 teasers
People love teasers! Just look at new movies, songs and new product launches.
Creating teasers leading up to an event is a highly charged emotional activity where attendees are being “delighted” of what’s to come. This touch point could also be used in addressing buyer’s remorse.
Excellent, seamless experiences at every touch point can only be achieved when upstream and downstream processes are linked. For MICE industry, CX ecosystem includes customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, partners, agencies, competitors, processes (funding, venue search, attendee recruitment & engagement and the list goes on). CX ecosystem looks into the interactions between these stakeholders and processes and ensures they are well integrated.
Pre-event ecosystem for delightful CX might look like the below
Attendee needs and value propositions in the above table are incoporated throughout the pre-vent processes. In addition to this, all stakeholders are encouraged to place attendee needs at the centre of their deliverables. Unification in focus, shared values and efforts will help create memorable CX in an event or conference.
This concludes the first instalment in creating delightful CX for event marketers.
 Source: https://www.facebook.com/HillsongConference/