Is Customer Experience the new branding? With Josh King, Head of Business Development at emc3.

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Posted on February 18, 2020

Thanks to digitization, customers’ expectations often exceed the quality of brand experiences. In this scenario, is the focus on Customer Experience (CX) becoming the main investment a brand can make as a market strategy?

Josh King, Head of Business Development at emc3 and Marketing Specialist, highlights crucial touchpoints you need to prioritize to enhance customer experience (CX) and succeed when designing effective brand experiences.

1 – What is MICE Customer Experience?

When we dissect customer experience to its core, it’s the result of every interaction a customer or delegate has with your business. Therefore, your people, process and sales and marketing materials all need to be aligned and up to the mark.   

Clearly mapped customer journeys and seamless sales cadence are a must. And at the heart of it all is personalisation. 

We all know that people do business with people who they know, like and trust. However, even more importantly, people do business with people who listen, understand and respond with impactful solutions to their specific problem. This applies to both your clients and delegates!

A few touchpoints we’ve developed to enhance our CX include:

► A strategically driven workshop which is focused around collaboratively producing and articulating a clear mission, vision, target demographic, event marketing strategy, KPI’s and OKR’s for the projects that we’re working on.

► A brand-new website which was created with a heavy emphasis on UI/UX. 

► Incorporating Drift’s chat bot onto websites that we manage which allows visitors to quickly engage with our team of expert’s and ask any questions they may have.  

► Post-project surveys and deep-dive sessions during which we review our process at a granular level to identify key areas of improvement so we’re constantly evolving and striving for new levels of excellence.

CX in the MICE industry isn’t about over-automation, mass emails and a one-size-fits-all approach to curating events and experiences.

2 – Why is human-centered event design important?

We’re living in an era that is dominated by technology. But the stats are clear: IRL experiences and the power of human connection are going to be key drivers in 2020 and beyond. Eventbrite’s nationwide research of millennials conducted by Harris, revealed that 72% of millennials prefer to spend money to engage in live events instead of on material possessions and it’s imperative that brands react.

HCD underpins event curation. We design events around 3 key areas – people, spaces and messaging. That’s what inspired the 3 in our name emc3. We’re passionate about producing experiences where every moment counts – from the initial enquiry, to the first phone call to the guest invitations, to the live event and even the post event cycle which is so often an afterthought.

3 – As a senior marketing advisor and researcher, I imagine that some of your findings might predict trends that will impact the event industry. So, what’s the most inspirational concepts you see that will come up next months? 

Sustainability and waste management – We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and as an industry, we all know we need to do more. According to research completed by Meet Green, a typical conference produces around 176.67KG of CO2E emissions per day. At emc3 we are working to carbon balance our internal operations, as well as client events. We are working with local communities and charities to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can. As well as offsetting CO2 emissions wherever possible. We are working to integrate an API that allows delegates to offset their carbon emissions when buying tickets to an event, as well as using innovative ways to give clients the opportunity to reduce food waste, production wastage, disposable SWAG, and trucking miles at events. You can read more about our wider strategy here:

Multisensory storytelling – Event Planners, Designers and Creatives across the industry are enthused by the latest developments in VR, AR, AI and Gesture Tech. We have some amazing technology at our disposal. So we can utilise to bring stories to life in exciting new ways. 

An increase in vegan dining – Having a vegan option on the menu at your events is a must these days. There are some tremendous new products hitting the market too, including the Impossible Burger 2.0 that launched at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month!

4 – You’ve worked with huge clients such as LinkedIn, Google and EA. Let’s say you’re just about to create an event for them. What’s the previous industry big fails that you take into account to make sure that won’t happen to your events? 

When we think about big fails within the industry, Fyre Festival springs to mind. The Fyre Festival fiasco did teach event planners a couple of key lessons though: 

Budget management is essential. 

Fyre Festival was a Fugazzi. Almost everything the marketing campaigns promised turned out to be complete codswallop. The simple fact is, they ran out of money. The team overspent ridiculously during the promotional phase of the project and they paid the price. You need to monitor cash flow and outgoings carefully for projects or they can turn on a sixpence before you know it.

Positioning is everything. 

Tickets for the festival ranged from $1,500-$12,000 which is steep for most people. If you target celebs, influencers and high-net-worth individuals, you need to deliver quality. That’s where Fyre Festival fell short. One scene captured an employee talking of how the team still had the belief they could pull the festival off despite the anarchic state of the site just weeks out. They even made a comparison to Woodstock. That may have been okay if Fyre hadn’t been positioned as a lavish VIP experience…and attendees hadn’t parted with thousands of dollars.

5 – When designing an event, even the most simple MVP has a high level of complexity. In a scenario like that, how do you prototype an idea in order to get the fastest possible feedback and develop better Customer Experience for the final event? 

Much more work goes into a successful event than just what you see on the day. We use our client workshops as a platform to understand the motivations behind running their event – this ensures that we’re all aligned from the outset. We then immerse ourselves in their brand implanting our team in their office to learn, observe and engage. Ultimately, we become one team with a clear mission and vision which makes feedback and decision making open, honest, efficient and effective.

Putting ourselves in the delegates shoes is crucial. We create target personas, take time to understand their needs and map out key touchpoints and focus enhancing every interaction an attendee will have with the brands that we work with. 

We run focus groups and conduct interviews. They gather data and feedback. Thus, we can refine our approach and ensure our final event design is as engaging and impactful as possible. It’s a detail orientated approach, but it’s well worth the investment. Research, dialogue and observation are fundamental to enhancing the delegate experience. Test your ideas, gather the data, listen to your audience and evolve solutions based on feedback and you’re onto a winning formula. 

We’re in a fortunate position as we have lots of creative resources in-house who can mock 3D CADs and visuals for us to use during our R&D phase. This is a process we’ve developed over the last two decades. We create a clear critical path that all key stakeholders have visibility over and build R&D into the project lifecycle to ensure no stone is left unturned.

Want to boost up your event marketing in 2020? So  start using InEvent today!

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Check out the latest projects Josh is working at the moment! You can find him on LinkedIn .

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