Customer Service 101 By: Bill Smith

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

In Part 1, we discussed some basic ideas about your presentation and appearance, and how to handle the calls and also to respond to Emails, and specific advice on proper follow up. Congratulations, you got the Gig! Part 2 of this 2 part installment in DJU discusses the philosophy that underpins good customer service and will allow you to distinguish yourself from your brethren who do NOT care, and only want the money. We are going to Wax philosophic here, but it is important to lay the right groundwork for the SPECIFIC discussions that follow.
As important as it is to land the sale, once you have the show booked, your customer service excellence truly has JUST started! It isn’t over till it’s over as the saying goes. (Paul) It is even more crucial to deliver good customer service now that you HAVE that customer. Once the sale is made, it is important to continue to provide good customer service – a lot of DJs work hard to get the gig, and then drop the ball after they get the deposit. We can’t emphasize enough how many calls we get from people who say that they can’t get in touch with their DJ to finalize the planning. The DJ was quick to return calls in order to get the reservation, but would not do the follow up calling to start the next phase of the show, THE PLANNING! We believe that if this one single aspect of our industry was changed, or didn’t exist, our profession would be viewed in a more professional perspective, and make the task of getting a livable wage much less of an issue.(Paul) Now many DJs simply don’t feel that “it is their job” to provide good pre-event planning services. This seems to be a prevalent problem everywhere in the United States. This is probably THE most important point that we want to hammer home: You shouldn’t consider yourself to be “just a DJ who plays music”. Visualize yourself as a legitimate business manager, and provide your customers with the necessary support BEFORE the gig. We both know several DJs in our areas who are very good performers, but create ill will with their clients prior to the event. They weren’t interested in spending the time to plan and organize their client’s event. Once the client gets angry with you – especially during that stressful time just prior to a show – providing an outstanding performance may not overcome the negative feelings the client has for you because the DJ wouldn’t work with them to plan and organize the event. This also spills over in future bookings, because once we discover a DJ isn’t providing the service we think that they should, we stop referring shows to them.

Pre-event planning is a two way street. It is important to LISTEN to what the client wants. It is equally important to have a tactful approach to offering suggestions and advice that may be different from what the client THINKS they want. We always tell the client at the beginning of the consultation that while we may use our experience to offer suggestions, we understand that the client may not agree with those suggestions – and that’s ok with us (in most cases). Most clients appreciate that you are willing to provide advice to them on how to best organize and manage their event. If you are knowledgeable, and have the ability to present your suggestions in a tactful manner, the client will perceive you as “the expert”, believing that you are not only an outstanding performer, but an outstanding event planner. This is almost certain to generate a higher percentage of referrals, compared to the same DJ who was only an outstanding performer.

The Planning Piece:

Once you have a signed contract and retainer in hand, your next step is to schedule a mutually convenient time to meet and plan your event out. (Bill) I again prefer to meet customers in their home, as they are more at ease and comfortable. Do whatever is best for your client. Let them decide that. Bring over your play list and planner for the event, a representation of your CD collection, and sit down and review all of the time lines and plan out the event. You should bring the contract as well, since many customers may inquire about the balance due and when to pay that. Your goal coming out of the meeting is to have a DRAFT of your planner for the event, complete with musical selections and a timeline.

When you come into a clients home again for that meeting, all of the same principles and advice in Part 1 STILL apply. Don’t let your guard down or present less than a professional image on your 2nd visit. Maintain a concerned and passionate, but friendly attitude. As you go through the process of planning the event, remember these key factors:

It is important to take DETAILED NOTES when dealing with clients, so you remember exactly what the client wants, with no room for errors or misinterpretations of your notes several months later. Be sure that you note any special songs or dedications on your planner. (Bill) This takes time if you write it all down, but I find that customers do like the fact that I HAVE written it all down. It makes any follow up phone calling a lot easier if you just pick up a file that has all of their information at a glance.

(Paul)Again for weddings – you should know precisely what reception formalities they want, and what sequence they are to follow. You should also have a good idea on the type of music the client wants, and does not want. You should also have a clear understanding on the type of DJ personality they desire, whether it is a fun and interactive DJ, or a lower key elegant style.

When you are finished planning, review the timeline and special details and MAKE sure that they understand how you will make this event happen for them. Ask them how they feel about the plan. Thank them again for their time. Tell them WHEN you will deliver a copy of their planner draft to them and how you will do that(email, fax, Snail mail)

If this venue location is a place you have NEVER played, you should offer to go with the customer to that location and review your placement and any difficulties not previously discussed. At a minimum, go see it yourself so that you know how long the drive is, what sort of load in you can expect, and also to introduce yourself to the venue personnel. BRING YOUR BUSINESS CARDS, and DRESS professionally! (This is a cool way to get them to MARKET YOU)

Follow Up

You should create a file for each client’s event. It should have all of their information for the event. Use a cover sheet to document any communications the client has with you prior to the event. Example: If you have called the client three times to remind them about their final payment due – you need to document this, especially when messages are left on tape machines. If you have made an exception to your policy on arriving early to set up due to the ceremony taking place at the same location, write this down so you don’t forget! You get the point. This helps prevent any misunderstandings or ill will from the client. The point: documenting so you remember what the customer wants, AND to cover yourself in the event the client questions you is PART of providing good customer service.

With weddings, once you have completed a comprehensive itinerary of the event, offer to fax or email the itinerary back to the bride. This demonstrates that you have everything under control, and that you understand what the bride wants from you. It also gives the bride the opportunity to let you know if there are any discrepancies – BEFORE the wedding day. Give them time to review it, and follow up. Get your planner faxed or delivered to the other event professionals if it is warranted. Let your customers know that this is completed. If you cannot get all of the planning done in one session, then you need to assign “homework”, where they get back to you with details and music decisions (if not already made). If your clients miss their deadlines, CALL THEM! It is their deadline, yes, BUT IT IS YOUR SHOW! Nail everything down IN ADVANCE of the date. Gently remind them that to make the show come of the right way, you need to have the information. Show that you care. Write down any outstanding items and document when you get them resolved.

Show Day:

(Bill)On the day of the event, depending on the location, get there early. I hate it when guests arrive and I am still setting up. The first impression you make on the guests as they see you should be dressed suitably for the type of event, and ready to play, not providing them a view of you sweating up a storm and cursing a light stand. Greet your guests, and ask them how the wedding went (if a reception), otherwise ask them how they are doing, and tell them who you are. This form of “salesmanship” can establish you as a consummate professional, a person who is totally unafraid of the guests, and breaks that ice barrier first.

Make sure that you have your planner for your event and that you inform your guests as soon as possible over your PA exactly what the event schedule entails and when. This is where having your sound up and using good speech techniques comes into play as well. This gets your guests involved right away.

At the end of your show, avoid tearing down while the music is still playing, or before the guests have been informed that the event is over. Mingle with them, and thank them for coming, shake some hands, and if you get a hug, great! This unhurried approach CAN result in getting thise calls the next day for future shows.

It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!

Conclusion:

Pretty intense isn’t it? The main thing to remember is it’s all about detail and follow up and communication. By using these suggestions, it is our hope that you can raise your own bar through providing good customer service. We hope that the advice was useful and specific. Our goals in communicating this were to give DJ’s who are looking to improve their customer service skills some food for thought and methods for implementing it. Good luck!

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Mobile Beat Staff Writer (228 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


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