Here at Sequence, we've spent countless hours crafting and refining our approach to producing events. Most of our tactics are easily replicable for planners and agencies alike; here are five tips to ensure client happiness.
1. Customize the collaboration
Producing a flawless event is the end goal, but projects are won and lost during the planning process (more on this later). Working with clients is always collaborative, and can often span many months.
How do they like to operate? Who will be involved in their decision-making progress? Have they worked with an agency before, and if so, what was that experience like? Do your clients prefer to communicate by phone, email or in person? Do they want a weekly digest of progress and deliverables, or one-off correspondence as things come up? Understanding who your clients are, irrespective of their events, will help you customize an approach that suits their needs __ and yours.
2. Know where you stand
Make it a point to step away from the details and check in with your clients on a macro level. It's an opportunity to see how the event is going from their perspective (often a client's priorities extend well beyond an agency's scope) and get a sense of how they're feeling about your contribution. If the feedback is good, it's nice to have that as a marker during the planning process. If it's not, you'll want to know so you can make adjustments and not be surprised later on.
3. Embrace criticism
Not every idea you present is going to be well received, and that's okay. But even those that don't make the cut can be beneficial. When concepts or creative don't resonate with your client, find out why. What didn't they like? Were there any specific elements that might have been positive? Did you take something away from the initial brief that might not have been accurate? The more feedback you're able to collect, the more likely your next round of ideas will hit home.
4. Don't forget to debrief
After your event is complete, make it a priority to sit down and review everything, first internally with your team, and then externally with your client. Hopefully you worked with the client at the onset of the planning process to identify key objectives by which to measure the event's success. So you'll want to review and analyze those metrics to be able to help determine the event's ROI. Of course, you'll also want to assess what worked well and what didn't, both on-site and during the planning process.
5. Don't settle for a perfectly executed event
The difference between a great event and a happy client is subtle but significant. You can produce an event that is incredibly creative, well executed, delivers results, etc., but If for whatever reason the client isn't happy, you likely are not getting rehired. On the other hand, you can produce an imperfect event with a laundry list of things to do better next time, but if the client is happy, you are in a good place. Oftentimes there's a direct correlation between a satisfied client and a well-executed event, but not always. At the end of the day, a happy client trumps all, so make that your number-one priority and the rest should fall into place.
Adam Sloyer is CEO of Sequence, an award-winning events agency specializing in strategic planning, production and design. More about Sequence can be found here.