Demanding Downtime

Written by on 03-26-2012

A recent  ‘Technical Trends’ continuing education session at a regional MPI conference got a little off track.

I was discussing, in a very engaging fashion, tools for growing event image and expanding promotional punch.  YouTube storytelling. QR codes for smart ticketing.  Is your event location on FourSquare with tips about parking? So many exciting ideas for these event professionals.


It was the end of the day and the questions were taking a decidedly “tech weary” tone.

A service provider shared the story of getting a panicked call from a meeting planner at 3:45 a.m. on a matter that was far from an emergency.  He asked with an exasperated look,  “ How do you send a customer service-friendly message clarifying when it is appropriate to call or text after week day business hours or weekends or even vacation?”

“Turn your phone off when you go to bed.” The audience chimes in with suggestions.  “No, when you leave the office.” “Not practical, what if there really is an emergency?” “Don’t you have a manager on duty?” “Are you kidding, who has that many staff anymore?”

The tall woman in the next row tackles a different privacy issue “I get friend requests from clients and colleagues on my personal Facebook page.  Is it rude to ignore them?”

I’ve lost control of the audience and they are all ready for their turn playing Oprah. “My Facebook page is only for my close friends and family.”  “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?  Facebook is for everyone I know.” “Everyone? Aren’t you afraid that your posts won’t be appropriate for everyone you know.” “I’m not posting anything distasteful!” “But don’t you want to keep separation between your private and professional life?”

Before I can regain control of the conversation, the redheaded planner in the front added, “What about the urgent e-mails while I’m on vacation?  An angry client complained that I did not understand customer service. She sent me SIX messages in two days completely ignoring my out-of-office message with directions on who to call.”

The audience went wild with recommendations.

Regaining the floor, I laughed that my “Top Tech Trends” session had turned into a self help program, “Ten Steps to Technical Downtime.”  We wrapped up and I headed back to my hotel room.

It was 9 p.m. by the time I finished my last e-mail.  Leaning back I contemplated my message to a colleague asking for several items the next morning.  Hmm.  Do I want her to drop everything to rush through this first thing in the morning? Really?

I change the request deadline for three days later and the send order for delivery at 8:30 a.m.

Baby steps.


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