Do you want a satisfied spouse or a loyal spouse?
Think about that. Which one is it? I don’t know about you but I want a satisfied and loyal spouse!
Now, do you want satisfied customers or loyal customers?
Ok, committed relationships and marriages are not the best analogy for business relationships. Marriages are one-to-one relationships. Most business relationships are probably not one-to-one relationships. Yet some of the interactions needed to sustain relationships are the same.
One thing is for sure. You don’t want dissatisfied customers.
So which are better? Satisfied customers or loyal customers?
Satisfied Or Loyal Conference Attendees?
Let’s put this in the context of your conference attendees. Would you prefer satisfied attendees or loyal attendees?
Of course we want satisfied attendees. Without attendees, it’s hard to sustain any type of conference. Sponsors won’t donate dollars. Exhibitors won’t display. Vendors won’t advertise. Speakers won’t commit. Any conference organizer without a focus on attendee satisfaction is playing with Russian Roulette with their future conferences.
So are satisfied attendees enough to maintain a self-supporting conference every year? In my opinion, no.
If you only have satisfied attendees, eventually your competitor will connect with those attendees and offer something better that makes them happier. Then their repeat attendance at your conference will decrease. And with decreased repeat attendees comes decreased dollars.
Maybe you are saying, “We don’t have any competitors.”
I submit that other conferences and self-organized communities compete for your attendees’ dollars and share of mind. So satisfied customers could easily become bored with an average experience and start looking for something better.
Three Types Of Conference Attendees
1. Dissatisfied Attendees
Looking for another conference or opportunity to meet their needs, and provide a better experience and service
2. Satisfied Attendees
Open to better offers or opportunities from competitors
3. Loyal Attendees
Repeat attendees despite attractive competitive offers and those that recommend you to others
Note: Do you even track your repeat conference attendees? If not, you should. It will tell you how firm a foundation your conference has. And you should compare at least three years of data to see if you have loyal attendees that attend at least two out of every three years. Healthy sustained conferences enjoy a 65% or greater amount of loyal, repeat attendees.
Transitioning Satisfied Attendees To Loyal Evangelists
So how do you move satisfied attendees to loyal customers that are committed to you?
Loyalty usually doesn’t happen overnight. It accrues over time with each successful touch an attendee experiences with your organization. To build committed loyalty, conference organizers must create a unique experience where attendees’ expectations are consistently exceeded. With each successful positive experience, from pre- to post-conference, attendees’ level of satisfaction increases until it changes to long-term loyalty.
This means that conference organizers must provide extraordinary customer service every time an attendee interacts with conference staff. Not only must the customer service be unparalleled, the conference experience must be as equally astonishing.
Ultimately, cultivating an attendee relationship is critical in achieving loyal attendees and your desired business results.
So which do you prefer, satisfied or loyal attendees? How can you grow a satisfied attendee into a loyal one?