First class or economy, sir?

New York. France. Miami. New York.

American. The car. Virgin. Virgin.

I’m back in the air again this week. Miami first, to drop in on two of our most successful Summits – CIO & CMO US – and see how our latest changes are being received; then New York, to run a few 2014 ideas by some of the office’s finest.

All this travelling, and my expectations as a customer never change. Important? No.

But it should be.

By now, you’ve probably seen the promoted tweet an irate British Airways customer decided to pay out for after the airline lost his father’s luggage (and if you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a read). An expensive complaint on his behalf, but one that carries a very real lesson: your customer service is only ever as good as the expectations you meet.

Unfortunately for BA, this was always going to happen; they work in volume. Fortunately for us, we don’t.

And yet the lesson prevails: in order to define those expectations, you have to first connect with your customer. BA’s sheer volume forces them to work with generic rules of thumb – but with the nature of our business, connecting with the client is what GDS does. And we’re about to take it to the next stage.

When we introduced MeetTheBoss to its future at the start of this year, one of the first things we did was create virtual ‘MeetTheTeam’ sessions for all our clients.

Pre-campaign, all stakeholders meet on our tailored video platform to run through the deliverables, expectations and materials needed to ensure a smooth campaign. They get to see our technology in action. We get an understanding of their expectations.

Except it went further than that. This wasn’t ‘pre-campaign’; this wasn’t the prologue. This was Chapter One.

The very act of running a MeetTheTeam was – in some cases – even exceeding expectations client-side. We were gaining immediate insight with our clients, and in doing so, enabling the alignment of our services with their expectations.

The result: Not only the foundations of customer service 2.0, but (perhaps more importantly) the opportunity for growth. How? By unveiling client expectations and aligning accordingly, we build a platform for deeper relationships to flourish. Or, in business book speak: we’re able to build out the account and serve all stakeholders in the process.

Today, we keep working. We get feedback. We improve. We move forward. But we do it in the knowledge that identifying expectations are key to delivering superior experiences and products for our clients.

Between Q3-Q4 of 2012, 85% of our summit delegation rated their experience as “above” or “well-above expectations”. In Q1 next year, we’ll find out how much of a difference our MeetTheTeam platform has made to that number.

And to give us the best possible chance, we’re also expanding the MeetTheTeam platform to include some of our flagship Summits.

For now, it’s a case of so far, so good – but this isn’t an exercise in box ticking. It’s a journey ingrained in the future of GDS – and one that our clients should always feel is flown First Class.


About Spencer Green

Spencer Green founded GDS Publishing Ltd in October 1993 to specialise in industrial, government-led publications for the burgeoning Chinese market. The company launched over forty business-to-business titles, was name-checked alongside Tony Blair on China’s national news as ‘best for Chinese business’, and – following a move into India – deemed to be ‘of national importance’ by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In 1998, GDS Publishing became GDS International and launched its first conference, Enterprise China. The hugely successful Enterprise series of conferences was rolled out across China and Latin America in the next two years. In 2000, GDS International launched its first Senior Executive Summit under the ‘Next Generation’ banner. This became the catalyst for nine years of 25% year-on-year growth... and 40% growth in 2010. In 2011, GDS held over 70 Summits for C-level Executives from a wide range of industries and across the globe, and eight digital marketing conferences. Today, GDS International is determined to become the world’s no. 1 business-to-business media and services company. It’s going to be an exciting journey! Spencer is married to Emily. They have two children, Finlay and Maya, and live in Bristol, UK.
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