Why you need detailed customer profiles

July 29th, 2019 @

question-analysis

As an executive, sales professional or member of a large team, you know how important it is to do your homework. More specifically, you need a full view of your clients or customers, so you know what you’re walking into—and what kind of pitch or interaction will work best. After all, how can you engage someone directly, without knowing who they are and what they’re all about?

That’s exactly where the concept of SWOT Analysis comes into play. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is a remarkably useful technique to help you identify your audience and get a foothold in the market.

In business, it’s all about carving and targeting a sustainable niche. You learn as much as you possibly can about a rival party or client, before meeting or interacting. This gives you the resources and the preparedness to land an appropriate deal, pitch or engagement.

Obviously, it’s impossible to conduct a SWOT analysis before every single meeting or event, but you can integrate this into a mobile app strategy to help facilitate this as much as possible. This is possible thanks to customer profiles or customer profiling. Personalized, customer profiles that allow the storage, organization and retrieval of data regarding a user or demographics.

RELATED STORY: 10 engaging tips for boosting meeting participation

Think of it as a 360-degree account view, which provides the big picture, at least as it pertains to your audience and customers.

How does this work?

The option to automatically upload customer profile data can open new doors for you and your team. For example, before a meeting, you can look up any user or customer within the app, peruse their profile, read additional insights and connected data and then dive back into the real world. But once you’re prepared, you can face those customers or clientele with full confidence.

The best part is that the experience and information provided can be customized by the leading company, your business, which helps set the tone for your successes, needs, gaps, revenue, industry and more. And all of this can provide an impromptu pre-briefing of sorts. It’s the pre-game before the big game day.

This is all a form of customer identity management, which makes interactions and engagement with your audience more personal. This permeates even down to the customers themselves, who can see what meetings, briefings and events they attended, and how they contributed, if at all.

RELATED STORY: Listening well opens door to good relationships

It’s a simple process, and all the components are streamlined, conventional in a personal profile sense. For example, you have the standard profile image or images, a brief bio or blurb about the person, detailed insights and interactions, and more.

superhero strengths

When a client or potential customer walks right up to you, you will recognize them instantly thanks to the profile data associated with them. This pushes meetings and agendas into the spotlight more, as you never have to walk into a room or venue and learn who is who. You know, simply because you (or someone in your organization) has interacted with them before, in some small way, creating a rich customer insight legacy.

75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that recognizes them and makes recommendations based on personal history. So, you want them to be more recognizable.

Not only does this build stronger, more reliable relationships but it also provides a deeper level of context to meeting your customers in-person. Furthermore, you can see how interactions and engagement play out through all the steps across pre, during, and post-meeting touch points.

A final, more resolute way to look at it is you’re building customer profiles and collective databases for sales enablement. Every team can leverage the insights and data collected on your audience, from marketing and sales to second-level management and board members. This enables a more efficient, more interactive and much more personal community.

The post Why you need detailed customer profiles appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

6 tech-savvy solutions to meeting obstacles

May 29th, 2019 @

hurdles obstacles

Meetings are necessary. We have to have them to move business forward, make decisions, plan projects and communicate with cross-functional teams. They are an intrinsic business component.

But what is not a given is an effective meeting. We all want them, want to be in them and want to host them. But often, we are faced with meetings that are either poorly managed, unnecessary or a huge time suck.

How much time do you spend in meetings? I’ll bet it’s more than you think.

I average about four or five planned meetings per week, about an hour each. For half of those meetings I am the lead, so I spend an additional hour per meeting preparing each week. The other half, I typically have to be reasonably prepared for which requires research, brushing up on current topics etc., so that I can pitch in when needed—so let’s say 30 minutes per. In addition to planned meetings, there are typically one to three impromptu meetings that pop up on my calendar each week, that I do not prepare for due to lack of information or timing. Add in a couple of group Skype chats and phone calls and I’m looking at about 15 hours of a 40-hour work week spent in meetings, which I’ll admittedly say is on the low side. I can easily double that for a few co-workers who work with different teams or with customers. But still that’s more than 30 percent of my time spent in or preparing for meetings.

I’m sure you can relate.

Taking Back Control of Your Meetings

Job growth in the meeting and event planning sectors is expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. And that’s because our work lives are intertwined with meetings, so instead of just accepting the status quo, let’s change it, one meeting, one meeting participant, one meeting manager at a time.

We wanted to face common meeting obstacles and challenges head-on and provide solutions to help overcome them. We see you, unproductive meetings, and we are coming for you.

Obstacle No. 1: No agenda, or lack of a clear agenda

Yes, the subject of the meeting is likely clear, the who, when and where. But not always the why.

SOLUTION: Set agendas, topics or even a bulleted list of talking points to help attendees be on the same page and prepare for an upcoming meeting. This way, when all are present at the table, you eliminate the haziness. It even helps to summarize the objectives one more time before you get started.

RELATED STORY: 10 tips for clock-wise agendas

Obstacle No. 2: Changing priorities and schedules

This can be mitigated, but not always avoided. In our fast-paced environments and customer-centric worlds, priorities can and will change. A key person may no longer be able to attend the meeting and only give you a 30-minute heads up. While it’s important to stay focused and push through, if key persons are not available then you will likely need to find a new time or place.

SOLUTION: Luckily, advanced software tools help you edit meetings on the fly, especially when it comes to mobile meeting management tools, where you can manage your meetings and be sensitive of other team members while you’re on-the-go.

Obstacle No. 3: People show up late or get lost

Back-to-back meetings exist. And meetings often go over the allotted time, causing schedules to get disrupted or pushed back. Also, with sprawling corporate campuses, there are too many rooms and locations to keep track of that occasionally people get lost or confused on their way to the dedicated meeting space, resulting in late arrivals which causes meetings to not start on time or having to repeat information.

SOLUTION: The only way around this, other than a printed map of your offices, is to leverage new technology that has embedded functionality for way-finding. With this type of immersive functionality, your meeting attendees can literally find their way to each and every meeting room with turn-by-turn directions that cut across buildings and even floors. Knowing where they need to be and how to get there will hopefully ensure your attendees are prompt. If not, notification reminders 10 minutes before the meeting help.

Obstacle No. 4: Meeting room overload

On the other hand, sometimes there just aren’t enough places and spaces to meet, or the chosen meeting room gets double booked. And as we just mentioned, meetings often go over time, and when you’re supposed to take over a room at the time you booked it for, there’s a chance the meeting previously in that room needs another 15 minutes and they aren’t willing to budge.

SOLUTION: Looks like you’re going to have to find a new space or new time. Mobile apps with built-in functionality to edit meetings at a moment’s notice keeps all participants in the loop. That way if you do have to change locations, calendars will automatically be updated with time and/or location so those that haven’t arrived yet will be synced up. Another great tool to use is advanced meeting room booking capabilities like finding a conference room based on your meetings parameters: by capacity, proximity and, of course, availability. 

RELATED STORY: #EventCanvas FTW!

Obstacle No. 5: No follow through

The worst outcome from a meeting is lack of action. This tends to cause additional meetings to be scheduled to review what was talked about in the former meeting.

SOLUTION: To ensure that your meeting was not only efficient but also effective, be sure to always end your meetings with clear action items, follow-ups and to-dos. This should be given to specific individuals or even teams and have expectations of delivery associated with them. Better yet, get verbal buy-in before leaving the room.

group feedbackObstacle No. 6: Lack of input

As I’ve experienced before, sometimes you’re the meeting leader, sometimes you’re a participant (or even unknowing participant) and sometimes you’re an observer. Regardless of what people think their role is, collaboration is the key ingredient for any meeting. You need to have thinkers and doers in the room to help solve challenges or push tasks through. But do the people in the meeting know that? Are they prepared?

SOLUTION: In addition to a documented agenda, it also helps to have open communication channels for collaboration to progress a meeting forward. You, as the project owner or meeting manager, need to develop strong collaboration before, during and after to keep meetings focused, productive and innovative.

RELATED STORY: The 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

The toughest part about being responsible for meetings is ensuring you’re not wasting anyone’s time, including your own. These common challenges in the workplace are ever present but can be overcome—you just have to embrace tools, technology and a personal dedication to ensure that you’re creating and delivering a team experience that moves business and productivity forward. It’s no easy task, but someone’s got to do it!

And when all else fails…donuts!

The post 6 tech-savvy solutions to meeting obstacles appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation

April 1st, 2019 @

customer experience

It’s time for meetings to evolve.

Meetings are a benchmark of how efficient your company is and also how organized your team is under pressure. It’s easy to forget that meetings are an important element of the customer experience (CX), since they’re just, well…boring.

You could have the best website in the world, incredible brand design and a variety of innovative experiences to offer, but these are not the only elements of CX you should be focusing on. If your in-person business meetings do not garner engagement, your customers will be less than impressed. In today’s hyper-competitive market, you absolutely must wow your potential customers if you want to strike a deal or cement a partnership.

As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional—your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” – Chris Fussell

Meetings are a huge contributor to successful communication, but they’re not easy to plan or manage. Consider that following a detailed agenda and starting on time can reduce meeting times up to 80 percent; unfortunately, only 37 percent of U.S. meetings use agendas. Improving your team’s performance in this arena is worth the hassle.

So how do you make good things happen during meetings? How do you streamline the meeting engagement process to ensure customers have a memorable experience?

We’ve prepared a list of tips and tricks to guide you.

1. Do your homework

This one should be obvious. You only have a small window of time available to make your point—don’t waste it. Are you about to share unnecessary information? Will your customers walk away enlightened or ready for a nap?

Do all necessary research on the prospect and/or industry beforehand, so that your meeting time can be an asset that validates your clients’ trip to your offices. One recommended exercise for understanding a potential customer’s profile is to complete a SWOT analysis. Yes, just like in your college marketing class.

RELATED STORY: Design relevant, engaging experiences

2. Know your audience

Who are you talking to? What have they achieved and what problems are they having? What are their likes and dislikes? How many times have they met with your department or organization before and what were the results?
This relates to the previous point about doing your homework, but it’s also a separate step because you’re using the information to personalize the experience. If you already know some details about the customer (do they like to golf, their alma mater, major industry conferences they’ve recently attended, etc.) it makes it easier to choose a talking point and make casual conversation transition into business discussion.

3. Sentiment should lead the way

When you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone and you hit on a touchy subject, you can usually tell right away from their body language. In that moment we generally assess how to continue, maybe steering away from the touchy subject if it’s not important.

You should do exactly the same during a meeting. Successful meeting management is about steering conversations based on real-time sentiment and feedback. Get your attendees involved by using tools like surveys and polls. Pose a question and then discuss the answers, in the moment, to gauge the temperature of the room. Then, use the information you gain to influence the rest of the meeting.

4. Enlist some help but return the favor

Your guest speakers agreed to help by giving their time and sharing their insights. In return, make things as easy for them as possible.

Collect post-meeting feedback and then share this information with your subject matter experts. This should help them fine-tune what trends or topics they touched on and how they can improve the overall experience.

Having a speaker’s bureau is incredibly helpful. It allows you to view which exec or subject-matter expert is most knowledgeable on a particular topic and also helps you identify new speakers and opportunities.

RELATED STORY: 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

5. Be a thought leader

Establishing company executives as thought leaders in your organization and within the industry makes them more relatable to customers. It also positions them as subject matter experts, building clout for your organization. For attendees, the meeting becomes a much more exciting prospect, akin to meeting a celebrity.

Execs can assert their thought leadership with published content and blogs, social media, webinars, speaking engagements and similar events. It goes without saying but this should be done continuously outside of regular meetings or conferences.

6. Preparation is key

We’ve already told you to do your homework. However, don’t just aim to come prepared yourself; you should also focus on preparing anyone who will attend the meeting, including other team members and customers.

Make this happen by sharing the agenda and any support documents ahead of time. This way attendees can even get involved beforehand by making topic suggestions for the meeting agenda, or by proposing important materials they’d like to bring to the discussion.

7. Real-time notifications

Forty-nine percent of people multitask by doing unrelated work during meetings. Keep them focused by sharing targeted insights and updates before, during and after the meeting. The best way to go about it is through real-time notifications and alerts.

Start every meeting on the right foot. Ensure that if the room or time changes, your attendees know right away and have clear instructions on next steps. Send out initial details to serve as a primer for what you’ll be talking about, as this will gear them for more participation.

By the end of 2019, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience improvements. The technology behind real-time notifications and dynamic alerts is nothing short of innovative.

8. Acknowledge contributions

So, you held the meeting and saw that everyone was engaged? Excellent! Now, make them feel appreciated with a proper follow-up in-person.

Plan to take a few moments at the end of every meeting or discussion to acknowledge contributions. Who was a top participant? Who proposed a remarkable idea that no one else thought of?

Even just a little praise can go a long way toward building lasting relationships.

9. Save time for feedback

All meeting managers hope to collect insightful, actionable feedback from an event. After all, it’s one of the reasons for having a discussion in the first place.

But is there enough time to do it? More importantly, can attendees deliver feedback in an easy, convenient way?

To make it happen, consider using tech tools such as automated reminders, quick one-click satisfaction surveys or even voice dictation. Find ways to improve the feedback process and cut down on excess noise. This will conserve time for you and your team, while affording attendees ample time to share all their thoughts.

RELATED STORY: Traits of great meeting planners

10. Following up after the event

It’s a good idea to gauge interest and collect feedback during the event, but there must also be a follow-up after everyone has gone their separate ways.

Show attendees their contributions were worthwhile by following up on their suggestions. Send personalized messages or notifications that keep engagement going post-meeting; this is your chance to prove that customer comments were taken into account by your team.

Don’t forget to tie up those loose ends—they matter.

Meetings are vital to customer experience

It’s easy to forget that meetings are a part of your CX, simply because they happen so frequently. In addition, most people—even customers—have been desensitized to their shortcomings.

But you can use these tips to step up your game, boost engagement and build long-lasting relationships with whoever you decide to meet in-person.

The post 10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News