“The event industry is fraught with software companies that assume the customer’s experience takes a back seat to the product they are offering.”
If you weren’t born yesterday, you’ll know that any company will claim that their customers are their #1 priority—which is a flimsy catch-phrase unless actions support it. You’ll also know that Ben Franklin lived a bit before the time of venue software.
But like many of his words, this adage remains timeless, and it applies to every vendor and consumer in the venue software industry: “Well done is better than well said.”
Although they may be few and far between, we’ve all experienced businesses who practice what they “preach” and indeed do a job well done. We are fortunate to have the occasional “wow” moment upon receiving customer service that goes above and beyond.
As a North Carolina native, I’m partial to one particular grocery store (headquartered near Charlotte) that continually goes the extra mile for each of their customers. It’s also worth mentioning that as a guy in his early twenties, grocery shopping is one of my most dreaded chores. Driving 15 minutes there, battling soccer moms for a parking spot, trudging through an aisle six times to find an item, and waiting in an endless check-out line is not something I particularly enjoy. That is my usual grocery store experience, but not at Harris Teeter.
The service that Harris Teeter offers is what sets them apart, and perhaps the biggest testament to that service is their grocery delivery. I can select and pay online for the items I want, and they can be delivered to my door that day. What could be an hour long process is simplified to a few clicks. No driving, no soccer moms, no lines. Could the items they deliver be found at any other grocery store? Absolutely. The products they offer are largely the same as the products offered elsewhere, but their service and how I attain them makes all the difference. If Benjamin Franklin compared the “talk” of other grocery stores with the “walk” of Harris Teeter, I imagine that Harris Teeter would be his top grocery choice, based on the way they carry out their service.
I say all that to emphasize this point: the “what” is important (groceries, for instance), but the “how” is the tipping-point for any business with competition.
The “what” of venue software is pretty straightforward: people need a product that enables them to book events, manage clients, delegate tasks, track payments, create event orders, analyze revenue, etc. The functions within any large-scale venue are fairly similar, therefore the software that serves them will have similar tools. But the “how” of implementing, using, and receiving support for each software platform varies immensely among vendors. The “how” is what I hear most people complain about in regard to their current venue management software, not the “what.”
Sure, they love what the software has been said to accomplish, but it’s implementation time can be absolutely grueling—a matter of years rather than weeks. Naturally they are eager to use it after such a long implementation timeline, but once set up, they realize how complicated the user-interface is in practice. Upon asking one event coordinator how user-friendly her current software was, she laughed and said to me, “User-friendly? A better term would be user-hostile.”
“User-hostile,” meaning it’s mobile compatibility was virtually non-existent and any customer service they needed would incur extra charges, thanks to the vendor’s hidden support fees. For this particular event coordinator, her “how” experience was negative enough to outweigh any benefits the product itself provided.
As someone who works with venue employees on a daily basis, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that the event industry is fraught with software companies that assume the customer’s experience takes a back seat to the product they are offering.
This thinking could not be more flawed, and the process of obtaining new software need not be so complicated. It’s not necessary for implementation time to take from 6 months to a year, it’s not fair to charge clients for asking questions about a highly unintuitive platform, and it doesn’t make sense to penalize a team within a venue who wants to add a new user.
If first-class service was a priority as it should be, venue personnel would be able to purchase a software platform with the functionality they need—in a manner that is also timely, simple, cost efficient, and (dare I say) considerate.
I’m proud to be a part of a company that is acknowledging and addressing the general lack of service in the venue software industry. Like Harris Teeter, I believe the way we handle the “how” is what sets our team apart—and what would cause Ben Franklin to choose EventBooking, if he were in the market for venue software. A top-quality experience that requires less time, money and effort should be assumed from a Software as a Service company; and as a customer, you should expect nothing less.
Charlie Lewis is Sales Director at EventBooking, a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that specializes in online booking and venue management for arenas, stadiums, convention centers, and performing arts centers. EventBooking takes pride in their clients, who oversee the many moving parts that make a concert, conference, or sporting event possible. EventBooking serves over 700 venues worldwide with a reported 99% customer satisfaction rating.