If you weren’t born yesterday, you’ll 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.”
Everyone appreciates a business that practices what it “preaches” and indeed does a job well done. We are fortunate to have the occasional “wow” moment upon receiving a product or service that goes above and beyond. And although the product itself is important, the service that accompanies it is often what sets it apart.
Take, for example, Chick-fil-A—a fast food chain that’s regarded as one of the “most beloved” fast food chains in America. I wrote an entire blog post about it once before, because their strategy is one that any business would do well to take note of. And it’s a fairly simple one—they provide exceptional and over-the-top customer service. Their food is good, but the service they offer is what sets them apart.
The products they offer are similar to products offered elsewhere (chicken sandwiches, fries, salads, etc.) but their service and my experience while attaining their product makes all the difference. If Benjamin Franklin compared the “talk” of other fast food chains with the “walk” of Chick-fil-a, I imagine it would be his number one choice (unless, of course, he was vegetarian). I say all that to emphasize this point: the “what” is extremely important (food, 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, etc. The needs of a large-scale venue can be 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 a couple months. 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 is a priority as it should be, venue personnel should 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 Chick-fil-A, 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.
Steve Mackenzie is President 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 1,000 venues worldwide with a reported 99% customer satisfaction rating.