How to Win Over a Dissatisfied Event Guest

Event coordinators and managers often, and rightfully, desire to deliver a flawless event that impresses all of their attendees. No matter what measures are taken to ensure a smooth outcome, event managers can’t always predict how attendees will respond to them. So, when a registrant or participant has a less than favorable experience at an event, it’s important to know how to respond. Luckily, employing a few simple but successful communication strategies can not only change the attendee’s experience but also turn them into a brand advocate.

Read on for some tips to incorporate into your event success toolbox! 

Listen Carefully

Perhaps the first mistake most client-facing professionals can make in regards to customer service is to passively listen. It’s not uncommon for event attendees to keep their experiences – good and bad – entirely to themselves or a close network. 

When an attendee’s experience has prompted them to step out of that comfort zone and address it directly to your team, the best tool you can implement is active listening. Active listening requires a dedicated effort, but it is the best way to truly understand the guest’s experience. 


Empathize to Understand

Beyond listening, the next step toward mending the customer relationship is empathizing. Empathetic thought – “how would this situation make me feel?” – is crucial in order to understand your participant’s perspective. Even more, empathy can help event managers look at the situation less objectively, in favor of their attendees. 

The goal in this step is to remove any defenses and focus entirely on the information at hand, asking questions to get clarity as needed. Chances are, if one person had this experience, there may be others who did, too. Think of this process as free research – you’ll likely emerge with some handy tweaks to help optimize your next event!


Problem Solve Together

Of course, listening and understanding will only go so far in the eye of a dissatisfied customer. This is where mutual problem-solving comes in! Now that there’s a healthy understanding of the experience, work with the attendee to find a resolution that will meet their needs. In high-quality customer success teams, it’s not uncommon to straightforwardly ask the participant what you can do to remedy the situation. You may not always be able to meet their exact request, but it will give you a clear understanding of their anticipated solution that you can work toward. 

If your event guest had a specific complaint, such as feeling uninformed up to the event, you can offer free registration with the promise of better pre-event communication. If you come to the table with a proposed solution in hand, be flexible to make changes that would, within reason, most satisfy your guest. 


Win Brand Advocates

The best event managers know that negative participant feedback can be more valuable than anything. Not only does it help them optimize future events, it gives them the opportunity to turn dissatisfied guests into complete brand advocates. 

When an event guest feels like you’ve gone out of your way to validate and remedy their experience, there isn’t a more positive feeling. More often than not, these folks end up being so impressed – and surprised! – by the high-quality response that they want to talk about it. The best brand advocates aren’t always the biggest fans from day one. Sometimes, they take a little nurturing!


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