INTRO From May to August 2016, I worked as a project management assistant for an events services company called Connect&Go. Connect&Go is a technology startup that focuses on connecting live audiences to brands at an event. An RFID badge or wristband facilitates access control, cashless payments, and experiential connection. Connect&Go has worked with clients all around the world, including Universal, Osheaga, Superbowl, Just for Laughs, Budweiser and many more.
SITUATION During my internship there, we had a deployment at the Carolina Country Music Festival, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There, while my fellow interns were put in charge of vendor training and support, I was placed in the customer service department. I alternated between the box office and the front desk located in the festival premises. I was told it was going to be the highest-pressure environment experienced so far.
PROBLEM There were many issues related to the festival’s weak Wi-Fi connectivity. This meant that many festivalgoers were being charged incorrectly for items they had bought from vendors and the money deposits they made to their wristbands were not being recorded properly. Furthermore, this was extremely tricky to verify since many had used cash to top up their wristbands. As a result, customers were asking me to refund them or top up their wristbands, something I did not have the authority to do. Since most customers had no receipts, I could only take their word for it, which I knew immediately my superiors wouldn’t warrant. In addition to this, the staff hired by the festival to help me at the customer service was composed exclusively of volunteers who had absolutely no knowledge of the RFID technology we were using. As a result, I was left alone to deal with all of the upset clients.
SOLUTIONS After an awful first day, I decided something had to be done because the situation was getting out of control and the number of unhappy customers was increasing drastically. My first thought was to request to add money to clients’ wristbands to satisfy them but my supervisors told me I could not do this, as it would mean that money could be lost for the festival. However, I really felt that since the connectivity issue seemed to be unsolved after a whole day and problems were accumulating, it was imperative to make the festivalgoers happy above all else, or this would hurt the festival even more. Thus, I found a concrete solution. Later that night, when we finally got home in the morning hours I got on my laptop and created an excel sheet. The next morning, I pitched my idea to my managers. I proposed that I would add money to people's wristbands who clearly seemed to have been charged incorrectly or who hadn’t been topped up properly, but that I would take down their information in the excel sheet I had created. In this sheet, I took down their personal information and wristband data, and entered the amount of money I had added to their wristbands, as well as the details of the incorrect transactions. This way, once the festival was over, we could track whether these people should be refunded less of what was left over on their wristbands or if they owed money to the festival. Obviously, I made sure the clients I helped were aware of these new terms and conditions and advised them to make sure they didn’t spend more than what they knew they had paid for. In addition to this, I asked the festival’s management to get the volunteers in the customer service to come an hour earlier every day for me to be able to train all of them properly and have them help me with the long lines of people. I asked some of them to even go along the queue with some mobile devices and laptops to take care of some clients, because the front desk wasn’t large enough to process them at a reasonable speed.
OUTCOME Once my solutions were put into place, the lines at the customer service got much shorter for two reasons: (1) clients were being attended to at a much faster pace by our staff and (2) clients were being given much more satisfying service and therefore left quicker. Post-festival, the excel sheet I had created was used to refund people correctly. My colleagues told me they believed my solution had kept clients satisfied, avoiding many complaints and saving the festival’s brand image. Later on, the RFID technology Connect&Go provided was significantly improved, and when I worked at another festival, Osheaga in Montreal, not a single one of the above problems was encountered.