Building a Virtual Event Employee Code of Conduct
“Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.” – The Who
Presenting a digital event is still relatively new territory for many companies, especially larger organizations that have more recently embraced digital events as a cost-cutting measure to save on travel. Just as there are different communications strategies that are affected by the choice of medium (for example, a TV ad is a different message than a magazine ad, and speaking live before an in-room audience is a different sort of activity than recording a 2-minute YouTube video), presenting a digital event places certain unique demands upon the organization and its employees.
As part of preparing to introduce digital events at your organization, it is helpful to create an official Employee Code of Conduct that directly addresses the challenges of operating in the digital event environment. Running a digital event does not have to be radically different from the everyday operations of the company, but there are a few particularities that require careful attention.
Here are some ideas for how your company can guide your employees to ensure smooth, efficient, problem-free digital events:
- Speak with one voice: Just as every company needs to have a designated media spokesperson to ensure that the company is properly represented in the media, every digital event needs to have a consistent “voice” of the company to the event attendees. Whether this is one person, or a team of people depends on the scale and scope of the event, but the important thing is to ensure consistency and reliability. Make sure your employees know not to “speak out of turn.” Sometimes seizing the initiative is a bad thing – if an employee who is not authorized to speak were to transmit incorrect or inaccurate information to the event audience (even with the best of intentions), that could damage the reputation and credibility of the organization.
- Decide on the tradeoff between speed and accuracy: The temptation of running a digital event is that it’s so easy to immediately respond and interact with attendees, that some employees might feel that they need to immediately reply to every question or concern. Don’t rush. There’s no substitute for good, accurate information. Make sure your employees understand the value of getting it right, rather than “getting it done.”
- Represent the brand “digitally.” Just like any other public communication on behalf of your company, your digital event, and all the content and communication shared within it, can help or hurt your company’s overall brand image and reputation. The risks are a bit different in a digital event environment: for example, make sure your employees are properly trained on how to use the digital event platform. Make sure that professional standards are upheld for spelling, punctuation, verbal presentations, and any other online interactions with customers. If you wouldn’t want your employees using poor grammar and smiley-face icons in their e-mail correspondence, make sure they know not to do it in a digital event.
- Interact effectively with attendees: Make sure your employees know the “dos and don’ts” of how to engage with attendees in the digital event environment. Be prepared to offer your attendees a higher level of hospitality to ensure that they are comfortable in the online space, and make sure they are finding the information that they need. Be solicitous and courteous, and don’t be afraid to offer to help attendees find whatever it is that they are looking for. Many attendees might not have attended a digital event before or might not be familiar with your organization’s chosen digital event platform, so be prepared to offer a helping hand to show them around. Spend some time profiling attendees to find out what your customers want. Also, train your employees to think from the perspective of the attendees and understand the attendees’ goals in attending the event – do they need new product information, networking with other attendees, sales leads, coaching? Why did your attendees decide to attend, and how can you help them maximize their experience?Solutions providers like Social27 offer a range of services to help create customized digital event platforms to make the most of your customer interactions.
- Respect participants’ time: Keep in mind that for attendees, “time is money.” They are taking time out of their busy schedules to attend this event, and/or they are paying money for the registration fees. Make the most of any time spent on hold prior to the call. Try to resolve any technical difficulties quickly and efficiently. Keep your employees focused on delivering fast, responsive service to keep your attendees “on the move” and learning throughout their digital event experience.
When it comes to organizing a digital event, it pays to be prepared
Despite the growing popularity of digital events, many employees are still unaware of how to interact with their customers online. Rather than leave things to chance, companies who are planning a digital event should consider drafting an official Employee Code of Conduct. By formalizing expectations with their employees up front, companies can avoid the most common digital event disasters and ensure that their attendees get the maximum possible value from their experience.
Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why…
What pitfalls (or opportunities) have you found in preparing employees to manage digital events? How can you “codify” the digital event best practices and training that your organization wants to convey?
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