Customer service. One thing that is imperative in any successful business.
My background in agency side marketing for high end and prestigious brands meant I had to respond to clients immediately. This has meant that customer service has always been a huge part of me. Response times to me are crucial and this is something I always look at when selecting the suppliers for my Asian wedding planning clients. Excellent customer service has been etched into me, it’s like it’s part of my DNA.
So it’s safe to say that I am a stickler for customer service. I firmly believe that clients and customers are of course what makes and breaks a business and in my opinion if they are investing in your product and service then they should be treated with utmost respect.
Well, I did think that until I came along to the Asian wedding industry! I started to experience suppliers and venues when of course I started to plan my own 700 guest wedding extravaganza a few years back but quite simply put, I was shocked and appalled at how some suppliers operate in the Asian wedding industry in terms of customer service.
Now please don’t take this the wrong way and this isn’t a personal vendetta against the Asian wedding industry but in my vast experience of working with both the British and Asian wedding market I can see significant differences.
To put things in perspective here are some of the bad experiences I have had over the last few years:
When I was a bride I had a trial booked in with a renowned Midlands makeup artist. I had confirmed with her in a text message about my trial details and she had confirmed back. But when I was actually on my way to Birmingham she texted me to say that my trial wasn’t on that day! Awful.
One of my lovely couples recommended a caterer to me .When I contacted them I had to wait three weeks for a quote – three weeks! To me that is unacceptable. It then took them over a week to arrange a food tasting date – it was safe to say they were removed from the catering process.
So why is it that customer service is so bad and these horror stories are associated with the Asian wedding industry? I don’t quite know the answer to that is I’m afraid, but maybe it stems from India where customer service CAN be non-existent?
But the shocking thing is that recently I have seen stories surface on social media about really well known and reputable photographers . Many brides and grooms complaining about long lead times and extremely poor communication.
So as brides and grooms what can we do to mitigate the risk and ensure this doesn’t happen on the big day? Here are some hints and tips to ensure you don’t have cowboy suppliers and they deliver on what they promise!
1. Do your research! This is imperative when booking any wedding supplier. Look at their Facebook reviews or if they haven’t got any reviews ask for testimonials. Some of my clients have asked to speak to my previous clients and I don’t get nervous about that because I know I deliver an excellent service. This is something we don’t do enough in the Asian wedding industry and I think we definitely should!
2. Attend their events and weddings! Yes for some suppliers such as caterers/DJ’s etc you will be able to attend the event they are hosting so do ask if this could be an option.
3. Make sure you have a contract – this is completely non-negotiable. The number of couples I have seen not have contracts in place – this is absolutely crazy! If the supplier says that they never needed contracts or don’t have a contract then it’s time to walk away. Any reputable supplier will always have a contract.
4. If your supplier has deliverable’s that they need to meet after the wedding such as photography, then in your contract it should clearly state when those deliverable’s are being delivered. So for example ensure that in your contract it says the photography images will be delivered within 6 months.
5. Make clear that you expect a good service! I always make this very clear with all suppliers I intend to work with for my clients – that way they will know what to expect.
6. Don’t book cheap suppliers please! So many times, I see suppliers advertising their services for next to nothing and its normally those suppliers who can’t actually make a living out of their services and the ones that normally leave their business. Any reputable and high quality suppliers won’t offer masses of discounts. If you are comparing quotes and they are not like for like in terms of investment, then you need to ask yourself why.
7. If you haven’t got the time to do everything yourself and thoroughly check all contracts, then hire a Asian wedding planner. It will save you time, stress and of course money in the long run and then you can relax and enjoy the wedding planning service. A wedding planner can be your best investment and these days it isn’t a luxury that is saved for the rich, famous or celebrities! We also offer bespoke wedding planning packages so why not get in touch for a free phone consultation to see how we can help? You can find more information here
Here is what some industry experts had to say:
Ravita Pannu – Ravita Pannu Artiste
“Customer service is very important for me. I’ve often been complimented on our excellent services and response time even during wedding season as we know too well how stressful event planning can be. When I built my business from nothing, I always knew what I wanted to include in our service and excellent customer service was always at the forefront of my mind. I’m constantly asking questions and taking feedback from our clients, to ensure I put into place the best possible practices and this is filtered down within the team structures.
Customer service will leave your clients wanting to return. Nothing delights me more knowing our customers choose to spend with us and ultimately it’s because of how we treat them and make them feel and look. To us our customer journey and experience is absolute key!
But taking a step back for a moment, one cannot exceed expectations unless one’s core values and approach are of a certain standard. So here is how Eye Jogia Photography does it:
Roshni & I both have professional backgrounds so we insist upon a professional yet friendly approach, to add to that we have multiple points of contact and always answer our phone after 3 rings, but if for whatever reason it’s not practical for us to answer (for instance if we’re driving, flying or on a shoot) we have a professional voicemail inviting you to leave a short message with your best contact details so we can call you back as soon as possible. We always follow up calls and emails within 24 hours so we can help you to get one of most important aspects of your wedding organised as smoothly as possible. If however we’re in a situation where communication is difficult because we’re abroad on a commission or on vacation, we always take the time to let our couples know before-hand.
The main thing that sets us apart from the industry is that we manage expectations at every step of the way to make sure you know what you are getting, when and why because with the best will in the world, some couples may not read all the documentation and agreements we provide; in which case, we will prompt you so you can get back to us with any questions you may have.
We want your experience with us to be enjoyable, effortless and memorable because we care about you, your event and your wellbeing – but more importantly, we care about helping you to capture those priceless memories that you won’t know are priceless at the time… because when all is said and done, the only thing you’ll own from your wedding are your photos.”
Shamim – Five Rivers
“It’s the ethos of Five Rivers and all members of our team from our Banqueting Managers to our Sales Team to our Chefs to strive and endeavour to ensure all of our events are a success. From our vast experience in hospitality, we know to achieve success a strong foundation needs to be implemented. It is important that we can be honest and open in our relationship with our clients. A relationship where communication is clear and expectations from both sides are always understood and respected. This is a guaranteed formula for the delivery of successful events! In terms of our service to our clients, we always strive for excellent customer service and our response times are quick to our clients as we understand how stressful wedding planning can be. “
So the important question is – does customer service exist in the Asian wedding industry? Well without offending anyone this is completely dependent on the suppliers you select for your big day. However a lot of suppliers in the Asian wedding industry do offer poor services and this is a known fact. There are however some fabulous and talented suppliers who I have had the joy of working with for both my own wedding my clients weddings and they always over deliver.
I do hope however this blog post has helped you when you are planning your Asian wedding. If you would like more information on our Asian wedding planning or coordination packages email firstname.lastname@example.org or head to www.desibridedreamsplanning.co.uk we would be delighted to be involved in your big day!