Leaving my seat for the interval at the Victoria Palace, a smiling usher met me on the stairs and asked how I was enjoying my evening. I said that so far, the whole experience had been amazing.
‘Great!’ he twinkled. ‘Well just to let you know the lower bar is quieter now, and enjoy the second half. Oh, and don’t rush off after the curtain call, the play out music is fantastic – I try and listen every night, it sends me home on a high.’
For me, that short encounter demonstrated five of the most important principles of customer service in a cultural venue – indeed anywhere that has customer-facing staff. In less than sixty seconds, I learnt that:
- Someone at the venue valued my opinion
- They assessed what I might want, and suggested the best way to get it
- They cared that my experience continued to be good
- They gave me a piece of information that would add value to my experience
- They enjoyed their work and were happy doing it
All the obvious customer care elements were there too of course, smiling, eye contact, knowledge, confidence. But that usher went the extra mile, for no other reason that this was the customer care ethos embedded in that theatre.
For any kind of cultural venue, enhancing your customer experience can only result in positive things. It will encourage people to spend more money. It will encourage them to come back. And it will mean your reputation for excellence spreads in a good way, which is invaluable.
The great thing about working in the arts is that we are promoting pleasure, enjoyment, entertainment, making people happy. People are more likely to enjoy a good experience, but the flip side is of course that they expect it. And are disappointed if it does not live up to their expectations.
In the arts we are often reliant on those who interact with our customers. These may be those in their first roles, or volunteers – able and willing but benefiting from training. As part of our Culture + programme, we are running a FREE training session on customer care, in May in Cranbourne, East Dorset, especially tailored to employees and volunteers at every level working in cultural organisations. Good customer care starts with happy, engaged and confident employees – join us!