Be Consistent — A great customer experience comes from each guest receiving the same great service, time after time by each employee. It’s not just about the overall event or the specific Artist that is on the stage. Instead, it is about the consistency of each staff member, that the guest meets, treating them the same exact way and providing an overall great experience. It’s the accumulation of each little thing, such as great energy and a helpful personality, that creates an overall success.
As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Morgan Howell.
Morgan Howell is born and raised in Nashville, TN. Currently the Director of Sales and Events for Brooklyn Bowl Nashville, she has spent her entire career working in the Live Event and Music Industry. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville Chapter of the International Live Events Association and can usually be found checking out the hottest new restaurant in town.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you for having me! I grew up with my father working in the Music Industry, so I have been going to shows and various live events my entire life. While I was attending the University of Tennessee, I interned for a publicity agency and a network TV group, back-to-back summers, that allowed me to work the CMA Music Festival both years. My passion for music and the excitement of creating experiences for music lovers grew immensely over the course of those two summers.
After graduating college, I worked at various booking agencies, which lead me to become a Corporate Talent Buyer at Nine Entertainment. I was able to present private, corporate, and nonprofit concerts and speaking engagements across North America. After Nine, I worked for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, as the Sales Manager for four different venues. I am now the Director of Sales and Events for Brooklyn Bowl Nashville, where I oversee all private events that come into the space. We can host groups of all sizes, ranging from 8 people to 1,200 people. My goal, in life and in my career, is to create memories for others that they will never forget. I receive true joy when my work creates happiness for someone else.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Early on in my career I secured a well-known Comedian to perform for 4,800 people. The Comedian had an extensive and very specific hospitality rider that my team was able to fulfill after visiting three different stores. After setting up the green room perfectly, adding special touches and greeting the Talent once they were on-site, I knew the night was going to go off without a hitch. In between their two sets, it was my job to replenish the very specific supply of water that was on stage. When we went to go replenish the water, we realized we had not purchased enough of the water bottles the Talent had requested. At this point in the evening, it was after 9:00pm and all the restaurants and hotels around the venue were either closed or did not supply the specific brand of water. The closes grocery store was 15 minutes away and we did not have enough time to run to the store. With that being said, we used one of the old water bottles and filled it up with an alternative brand. Thankfully, the Talent never knew or at least didn’t say anything. It was a quick lesson of double checking the small details no matter what and being quick on your feet when all options were exhausted.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
At TPAC, I was surrounded by female leaders that encouraged me to always work hard and become the best version of myself. They led by example by working long hours, speaking up, and not accepting ‘no’ for an answer. They always encouraged teamwork and were courageous in their job. They believed in my work ethic and ability to go further than I could dream for myself.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Creating a memorable experience and providing fantastic customer service is more important now than it ever has been. In any city, there are new businesses popping up daily. There are new opportunities and experiences being created left and right. People have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to eating and entertainment. When you create a memorable experience, extend unforgettable hospitality, and deliver a great product or service you will gain repeat business. When you can go beyond what is asked and pay attention to the small details, individuals will notice.
We are all looking for a sense of connection. It is pivotal to connect with each person that comes into your business. Encourage your staff to be more personable and greet everyone with a smile. Make sure you check-in with your guests and remind them you are there for them. When your guest leaves, follow-up with them and ask them how their experience was.
In order to create stepping blocks for a successful business, ever member of the team has to see through every step to ensure the business did everything possible to create that memory the guest will never forget.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
I believe businesses that are not extending great customer service are more focused on numbers and creating sales than remembering the purpose of their product or service. They have specific goals they are required to meet and will do anything to exceed them. Unfortunately, some businesses become blind to it because they view success only in a monetary form and not customer retention.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
I have always believed in healthy competition. Not only does it spark you to improve yourself, but it encourages you to learn and grow. You can not rely on the same method year after year and expect your customers to return. You must always be innovative and educate yourself on what is going on around you. Technology is today’s biggest resource. Instead of letting competition beat you down, use what is at your fingertips to educate yourselves. The Event Industry, specifically, is forever changed after the pandemic. Event Planners and Vendors are learning on how to create a healthy, safe environment and tailor it to each individual. You cannot produce the same event day after day, as each client and event will have different needs. You must know your client, know what is important to them, what their goal is, and how you can execute it in a safe and successful manner. Clients are still planning for the unknown and it is our job to work with them closely to ensure their event will be successful.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
I love paying attention to small details. I enjoy listening to my clients when they share an experience seeing their favorite band or when they are planning their children’s upcoming birthday party. I will then send them tickets to see a similar band or send a Birthday Card celebrating their child. This allows me to continue go beyond their specific event and provide them with additional experiences or memories they will not forget. It creates the opportunity for connection we are all craving. For me, when I feel connected to a client, I am delivering that customer experience you do not receive just anywhere.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
When you create those connections with your clients it forms long-term relationships, business and non-business related. When Planners or Vendors come back time after time, they are not coming back for the product. They are coming back to you because they trust you and know you will deliver the same great product time after time.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- In order to create great customer service and provide and a positive experience for each individual that comes into your business, you have to build a team that is passionate about the product and believes in the service. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Therefore, invest in your team and grow support among each other. Do not hire, just to fulfill numbers. Hire individuals that truly want to invest their time and sell a great product and/or service.
- Create a brand awareness throughout your space. Every strong business leader should know everything there is to know about the product they are selling. When Brooklyn Bowl opened to the public, I made it my mission to give as many site visits as I could to anyone, within the industry, that wanted to see the space. During the tour not only do I talk about out the overall product, but I pointed out specific architectural details, inspirations behind certain design pieces, hand crafted décor, and products that have been repurposed specifically for the venue. I speak on each service the venue offers and link it to specific events and/or groups. For me, I love pointing out small details because it helps connect each guest, to the venue, when they are experiencing it for the first time.
- In addition, go beyond what is asked or expected. You should always be willing to go the extra mile and help wherever is needed. I believe everyone should pitch in, even if it falls outside of their job responsibilities. Anytime I book an event, I am not only there for a day of support, but I am present to help bring out food, clean up trash, or regulate lines. I am always looking to see if anyone needs assistance. Being able to scan the room and know what needs to be done next. My job duties do not stop inside the office door. It extends into the venue, and I want to help wherever I can because at the end of the day a successful event can not be performed by one person.
- Be Consistent. A great customer experience comes from each guest receiving the same great service, time after time by each employee. It’s not just about the overall event or the specific Artist that is on the stage. Instead, it is about the consistency of each staff member, that the guest meets, treating them the same exact way and providing an overall great experience. It’s the accumulation of each little thing, such as great energy and a helpful personality, that creates an overall success.
- Lastly, follow-up with each individual guest. Reach out and ask them how their experience was. Inquire what they liked overall and what would they have changed about their experience. Take the feedback back to your team and adjust where is needed. Talk through various scenarios and be willing to make changes if needed. Feedback can lead to years of great success.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
I love writing handwritten thank-you notes to all my clients. In my note, I always ask them if they would not mind leaving a small review for others to read on our Google page. With technology being at the forefront of all resources, every good review matter and allows strangers, who do not know anything about your business, to gain insight into the product or service. In addition, you always encourage your guests to share their experience with their friends and family. The more word of mouth you have, the long the train is extended.
My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
I would encourage companies to be more personable, hire great people that are passionate about the brand, and deliver an overall fantastic product. In addition, create a high dollar product with great materials. Many direct-to-consumer companies are taking the easy way out by using cheaper products to produce more revenue. I would love to see more people take their time and truly invest in the product they are selling, starting with the quality of the actual product.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to create an immersive news platform that highlights the good in people. It would showcase people performing selfless acts and extending words of encouragement. I would love this platform to be worldwide and show examples of what other cultures do to be more selfless. I believe we can all learn from each other and that no one is better than the other. If we focused more on helping others and less on ourselves, it would create more good in the world.
How can our readers follow Brooklyn Bowl on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!