I've had a major special event in my own life: the birth of my twins.
First off let me compliment our associate editor, Natasha Garber, who has been handling the magazine while I have been on leave. She has shown great energy, resourcefulness and dedication to the special event industry. We are very grateful to have her on staff.
As a new parent, I still have plenty to learn. But I've been working for a living for a long time, and maybe that's the reason that I sometimes get the very strange feeling that my twins-- beautiful, adorable, perfect creatures that they are--are also, well, the world's most demanding clients.
All clients--internal or external, three weeks old or 35 years old--share some traits. And taking good care of your clients involves some customer service basics:
RULE 1: Be sure you know what the client really wants.
Clients fuss, yell and grow red in the face when they aren't getting what they want. But if you just assume you know what that is, you might be letting yourself in for a longer wailing session. Don't settle on the same solutions out of habit. Make sure your solution is in line with what's really needed.
RULE 2: Don't be afraid to disagree.
Giving in to every client demand may buy peace at first, but eventually you will create a bratty client. The success of this relationship depends on you exerting your expertise. Make sure you uphold your responsibility as the one with the know-how and experience.
RULE 3: Don't underestimate your ability to come up with Plan B.
You can prepare yourself to do the best job possible by reading plenty of wonderful books, attending classes and asking veterans for their advice. But the time will come probably at the very moment both you and your client are feeling tired, stressed and on edge when the plans you've made fall apart. And that's when you may have to come up with the best solution you can in a pinch. Maybe it isn't pretty and it certainly isn't your first choice, but it gets the job done when you need it done, and it just might turn out to be a great idea after all.
I only hope your clients aren't waking you up every morning at 2 a.m.