Customer Service: Going Above and Beyond

Gail Davis, 25 January 2010

Customer ServiceThank you Ross Perot.

You founded EDS on the strongest principles of customer service.

I was lucky enough to be hired by EDS right out of college. I worked there for 20 years under some serious leadership and culture. I interfaced with Ross, Mort Meyerson, Jeff Heller, Les Alberthal and, yes, Dick Brown. That is another blog.

At EDS, I learned about being in the service business. It is different. You are only as good as your last gig. You have to come up with solutions. You need to have the customer’s best interest at heart.

When I left EDS and started my company almost 11 years ago, I knew no way other than to be focused on the customer.

I surround myself with a team and speakers who get that.

A few weeks ago I had a classic example. I had booked Steve Palermo for a YPO event in Oklahoma City. Steve is an awesome guy. He was the most successful umpire in the Majors when he was shot in Dallas trying to be a good Samaritan.

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In Remembrance of Randy Snow

Gail Davis, 07 December 2009

Randy SnowRandy Snow was a great person, a special friend and professional speaker. He passed away suddenly on Thursday, Nov 19 while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp in El Salvador, doing something he loved.

Since 2003, we booked Randy 46 times for our clients. He always got great reviews. He was a dream to work with from our perspective as well as our clients’. He loved meeting people and sharing his message.

I am writing this blog to record my special memories of Randy Snow. Randy reached out to us back in 2003 and said he was getting into the speaking business and he knew we were a locally based bureau so he wanted to stop by and bring us lunch. At the time, we were an all female staff with typical female concerns regarding food…..all health conscious and watching our weight. We agreed for Randy to bring us lunch. I will never forget him wheeling up the sidewalk with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy and two liters of Mountain Dew! I laughed so hard and teased him about not knowing women at all!

Randy was so accessible and reasonable that he became our “go to” speaker for folks with limited budgets. We crafted some great deals. We really hit the jackpot back in 2005 when Randy spoke to Nestle Waters and created a talk on safety. The word spread and we booked him eight times for various plants across the country.

I knew Randy as a speaker and a friend. Since his death I have learned so much more. A harsh reminder of how we often do not really know those in our own midst. This past year, I have been taking my car to a dealership in Arlington and always turn on Randy Snow Road. I always thought it was funny and kept intending to mention it to Randy. I learned after his death that the street was named after him. He had transferred to UTA from UT and joined the fledgling Mavericks wheelchair basketball team. The street was named after Randy in 1984 when he attracted world-wide attention at the 1984 Summer Olympics when he finished second in the 1,500 meter wheelchair race immediately after Carl Lewis won a gold medal in a race. The publicity gave wheelchair athletes an unprecedented platform to show the world what they could do. A few weeks later, the city of Arlington renamed Midway Road as Randy Snow Road for his silver medal performance.

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A Sense of Connection

Gail Davis, 24 November 2009

A Sense of ConnectionHumankind is funny. We like to feel connected. Connected to a cause. Connected to a family. That connection creates a sense of purpose. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I have been thinking about that as it relates to the speaking industry.

Why do companies have meetings? To acknowledge employees, to set strategic direction, to wow clients, to motive and inspire performance. Meetings are an investment and they take time. But if the meeting creates a connection then often it has met the goal. We have so many opportunities to connect on the phone, via conference calls, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn but still face to face meetings are the most effective way of creating real connections. Why? I believe it is twofold. One aspect is the formal agenda and the other is the unplanned, unorchestrated bonds that are connected by virtue of having folks at the same place.

When I ran the Sales Incentive Trip at EDS, I constantly looked for ways to put the top executive team in funny situations. Why? It created a culture. It created exciting and memorable moments. Those who qualified and attended the events remembered the President doing the Macarena or numerous other skits that allowed the sales force to see leadership in a lighter role.

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Event Wisdom: Simple things that make a difference

Gail Davis, 06 November 2009

Pipe and DrapeI love going to events. It reminds me of when I used to manage a large corporate events department. I learned so much doing large scale events in the Fortune 100 environment. Some of the tricks are so simple, inexpensive and easy, yet they make a real impact.

Podium signage- Always create a foam board sign with your company, association or organization logo. These cost around $50 and will become part of your “tool box” for doing events. Use double stick tape to place it over the hotel’s logo on the podium. When the audience is looking at the podium or the image on the IMAG screen they will see your logo not the hotel logo – why should they get a free branding opportunity at your event! Simple yet effective.

Pipe and drape- Don’t automatically go with black. Think about it. If you have a large venue and you will be using IMAG screens (Image Magnification where you see the speaker on big screens), what is going to look the best? I don’t think black is always the answer.

I remember one event with a female presenter. Someone you all know. She had very dark hair and was wearing black suit. Her image was projected on the IMAG screen. She was against black pipe and drape. She looked like a floating head.

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International Events

Gail Davis, 21 October 2009

International EventsI was fortunate when I started this company 10 years ago. I had 20 years of corporate event planning under my belt. So, I knew the lingo and had a well-rounded understanding of event planning. But I also realized that you never get too old to learn…

This month we successfully booked Nando Parrado for an international event in Barcelona, Spain. This process came with ease and it made me think back to another international event that was a huge success.

We booked a speaker, Mike Riera, to speak three dates in the Middle East. His stops included Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco. The logistics were super involved.

The stop in Jeddah involved getting a visa. The requirements for the visa were very specific. We were down to the wire in getting the visa on time.

As we were finalizing the details, our contact told us the event would start at 11 p.m. at night. Lesley on my team kept emailing to ensure she understood correctly. Later we learned that events are held at night because it is so hot during the day.

In some ways this was the most complicated event we have ever organized. In other ways it was very typical. We realized that while we are 8 hours apart, speak different languages and come from different cultures, but, we also all wanted the same thing- a successful event.

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A CEO Who Gets It!!!

Gail Davis, 19 August 2009

GJ HartI had the pleasure of visiting the Texas Roadhouse corporate headquarters and spending two hours with CEO G. J. Hart. In some ways, I felt like I had gone back home. In my former life, I worked closely with Les Alberthal, CEO of EDS, planning corporate recognition events. He always challenged me to give our attendees and their guests a once in a lifetime experience. He was very committed to that principle. I have often wondered if there was another C-level corporate executive who shared his passion for the importance of recognizing his people through memorable experiences at events.

Well, I may have met his match. G. J. Hart is not yet 52 and he lights up when he talks about giving back to a community, his company culture and the internal foundation. He made a bold move to state unabashedly his opinion about why spending money on events is important. Oh, and he did that on national TV just after the AIG debacle. He took a risk but spoke his truth…..meetings are important. And guess what? He became a rock star. People could not argue the facts. He runs a profitable company, is extremely social-conscious and he knows how to motivate his people.

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