Want to Do More for Your Customers? Listen Up!

If you’re in a service business like us, you’re well aware of the need to stay on top of customers’ evolving needs. After all, what more is a service than a solution to a customer’s challenge?  And as your industry evolves, as do your customers’ needs, how can you continue to grow with them? The answer is a relatively simple one. Listen.

We recently saw this done extremely well by the producers of NAB Show, a huge annual trade show focused on media, entertainment and technology. They had found themselves in a situation where repeated complaints had been received about the cost and unpredictability of exhibiting expenses. With the risk of a potential drop in exhibit sales, they decided that the best way to get to the bottom of it was to keep an open mind, dig in—and listen.

What ensued was nearly two years of in-depth research, exhibitor interviews and data analysis. Hundreds upon hundreds of hours went into this effort and no stone was left unturned. The NAB even went so far as to send a representative to IBC, the European equivalent of the show, to learn more about what appeals to exhibitors, suppliers and contractors over there. 

Once armed with this mountain of data, the NAB organized it into a prioritized hit list of unmet customer needs and put every single service out to bid. Each company answering one of the RFPs was deliberately told that the goal was to redefine what “industry standards” could be. Lo and behold, this approach unleashed a torrent of fresh ideas from suppliers that completely exceeded expectations.

Today, the NAB is offering exhibitors more affordable and flexible ways to get just about anything done, from material handling and electrical to hanging signs, rigging, internet, even catering and floral. As one example, larger exhibiting companies can now procure material handling for an overall average savings of nearly 40 percent.

The NAB packaged all of these upgraded services into a comprehensive program called NAB Show Cares. And they expended a great deal of effort to reach out and clearly communicate the new program to exhibitors as proof of their willingness to listen, and evolve. Some observers believe the program may be the basis for a whole new trade show industry-wide trend.

The lesson is clear. The key to improving a customer’s experience (and keep them coming back for more) starts with listening to their pain points. It’s the one true foundation upon which effective solutions can be built. This approach certainly worked for the NAB. We’re convinced it works for us. And the harder you listen, the better your results are likely to be.

Hats off to the NAB trade show for the amazing job they did in creating positive change in our industry, one show at a time! 


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