Passion is Contagious defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.” So, if that’s passion then what comes with it? In my opinion: focus, learning, interest and continuous improvement. Passionate individuals and organizations never stop learning, and in terms of customers, your passionate ones are often those that are most loyal, vocal, and importantly, most valuable.

I’ve got a long list of things that I’m passionate about, I don’t want to bore you, but on there would be: UK chocolate, Wagamama (delicious noodle house in the UK… unfortunately not available in Chicago. Sad face), Scotland, NFL Football (Bear Down!) and of course marketing. On marketing, and specifically event management, I’ve always been passionate about it and I like to think I always will be. I did it for 4 years many moons ago at university, have worked in this field since graduation, and everyday know that this is the job for me. I’m not saying there aren’t days when marketing and event management isn’t the top of my fav list – ask some of my colleagues in the CDM Media Chicago office, the stories they could tell! But to this day, I’ve never got home and started looking into how I change careers to become a dentist, carpenter or Shetland Pony Breeder. In fact, with my passion comes an interest in advancing my knowledge and performance, and in turn improving myself, my team, and the products and services that we as CDM Media can provide to our customers.

In my opinion, for organizations that want to make waves in their industry, and stand out as the best, one of the secrets is to get passionate about your customers, and make them get passionate about you.  Care about how they get treated, learn about what they want, and then go out of your way to deliver it! Don’t just find out why they like you, find out why they love you. And when you know why they love you, make sure you’re delivering these products/services/traits to them, and others like them, in spades. Go beyond what is expected or required, show off your passion and theirs will follow.

At CDM Media being passionate about our customers, our attending delegates, and our products is a way of life. Nothing gets me more excited than connecting with our clients and being able to ‘go beyond the call of duty’ by delivering a superior level of service and understanding. Within the Client Services and Event Management team we don’t rest on our laurels, but we certainly don’t do just enough to get by. I’m surrounded by a highly talented team that everyday comes into the office determined to go out of their way to over deliver and ‘wow’ on all levels. We want to be the best and provide the best to our customers, so in turn they become as passionate about our products and services as we are. Beyond anything, passion is infectious – creating a product and service level which elevates CDM Media to where customers are feeling that passion enables us as a company to stand out against the many competitors who just don’t get the importance of going that extra mile.

Every company needs to find the passionate voices out there, and let them know you’re not only listening to them, but taking on their comments and feedback. At CDM Media we listen to our customers. Our feedback plan is wide reaching, but includes surveys, checkpoints with our CEO, bi-weekly calls with our clients to cover outstanding actions or to just say ‘hi’. These all work together to form a strategy that culminates in action. Most of all, that is the key; to do something. Passion isn’t something you can just say you are and that’s that. Action speaks louder than words, and not just one-off action, but continuous action. Anything less is just lip service.

I know it’s not as simple as ‘getting it done’, and many ducks need to be in a row for this to happen – including Executive support, people, budgets etc. However, without a vision, and a commitment to achieving that vision, the norm will remain just that – normal, beige, ‘just ok’. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of many examples of cutting edge companies that are ‘just ok’…. and for Rachel Tait, the Client Services and Event Management Team, and CDM Media, just ok isn’t an option.

Feedback is worth so much more than the paper it’s written on

Recently I’ve upped the ante with my yelp account, and would even go as far to say that I have become a ‘yelper.’ is an ‘online, urban city guide’ where anyone, anywhere can post a review on products and services ranging from restaurants to vets to state run facilities.  I initially used the social review site as a guide for restaurants, hairdressers, places to watch the Chicago Bears hopefully romp home to victory.  However, in the last few weeks, I’ve graduated from freshmen yelper, to at least sophomore grade, as I’ve also been writing reviews based on my experiences.

To date – I’ve written 11 reviews.  Of these, I’m hitting a ratio of about 50:50 on good experiences vs bad ones…. And to be honest, the good reviews I’ve added in case anyone stumbled across my profile and thought that I was a typical whining Brit.  So, do we provide reviews as a cathartic form of getting a bad experience out of our system? Or do we do it to provide honest feedback to the company and future patrons in the hope of improvements being made or to save someone from the same fate?

I have to admit, when writing up a review about an abysmal Food Truck Fest I went to here in Chicago – my initial reason was because I was so upset with the entire experience and it felt good being able to ‘vent’ in a socially accepted way.  However, if I had a friend asking if I would go again, would I provide the recommendation to avoid it like the plague? Absolutely.  And do I believe, if addressed, a number of my points would improve the experience exponentially? Based on the fact at least 5 other reviews also picked these up, definitely.

Why would a company not want to track feedback of this kind, respond, and ultimately improve their products/services, reduce negative impact of bad word of mouth and create customer advocacy?  This recent survey found that 90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced buying decisions, and 86% said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.

Therefore, now more than ever companies need to put processes in place for not only gathering and monitoring feedback from external outlets and service interactions, but also highlighting what is relevant and doing something about it.  Companies serious about implementing a 360 degree feedback initiative have a number of options available to them:

  1. Create a social media task force: with social media websites like twitter, facebook and forums often being the channel of choice for disgruntled customers, prompt and effective action can turn a potentially damaging experience into a positive example of excellent customer service.  Dedicated teams who monitor and provide timely action via these channels not only diffuse the situation – but often turn dissatisfied customers into some of your best advocates.
  2. Build an online community:  Encourage your customers to come direct to you with questions and issues by building an online presence which is designed to promote discussion, debate and sharing about your organization.  This not only puts you back in control of the feedback process, but customers will often solve each other’s queries via discussion boards and blogs – and if not, automatic routing will schedule a follow up action from an appropriately trained CSR.
  3. Empower your team: Nothing infuriates customers more than being told ‘you should’ve read the small print,’ or ‘I don’t have the authority to do that.’ Throw out the script, and empower your team to go the extra mile when dealing with your most loyal (and profitable!) customers – solving issues before they become worse will reduce detrimental feedback, and show your customers you are invested in them, and in return they will continue to invest in you.
  4. Do something about it! The whole feedback process is redundant if the information you receive sits in an inbox for 6 months with nothing being done about it.. Therefore take action!  Route the feedback to the right person (or people) who can address it, and set service level agreements to ensure that they do.

Your customers are often doing you a favor, highlighting breakdowns in service or potential product improvements – so why not reward them for it with great customer service?  In return, they will reward you with positive word of mouth and, most importantly, their advocacy. I mean, even this moany Brit has written a couple of glowing reviews…..