A Little Human Touch: Connecting with Your Audience

Today’s blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, PatronManager.

“Tell me, in a world without pity
Do you think what I’m askin’s too much
I just want something to hold on to
And a little of that human touch”
– Bruce Springsteen, Human Touch

Lately, I’ve been speaking to a number of different arts organizations about how they engage with their audience. Many are looking ahead in the coming months to their subscription renewal campaigns. The conversation is focused on how they are building connections to their audience that result in a positive impact. Sadly, when asked to outline their customer journey strategy, the response I hear often goes something like this:

We are very engaged with our audience. We send them multiple emails during the year about our organization. We send them postcards. They can also find us on social media. We also send them a letter and follow-up with a phone call to get them to renew!”

When asked how success is measured with this strategy, most can’t quantify it, or if they can, they admit that it isn’t very successful and fault their audience for not paying attention.

If your organization is not engaging in a well thought out, metrics-driven approach to customer engagement, you are setting yourself up for short-term stagnation and long-term failure. That said, crafting a strategy that is devoid of actual human touch as in the above example is not a recipe for success either. Technology is a tool for engagement, not an entire strategy.

So what should you be doing to engage with your audience and create a successful customer journey? A successful customer journey combines a mix of digital technology and actual human touch. For example:

  • When a new subscriber or member joins your organization, do they get a call from a senior member of your staff welcoming them and asking why they chose to become a subscriber or member?
  • How often does someone on your staff take a few minutes to actually write a handwritten note thanking a patron?
  • When a first-time ticket buyer attends an event does anyone greet them at their seat and welcome them?
  • When was the last time your organization randomly selected a group of single ticket buyers, subscribers, members, or donors and engaged them in a live focus group?
  • How often does your staff stand at the doors of your theater and thank people for attending the evening’s performance?
  • When was the last time your organization called a subscriber that missed a performance or a member that missed an important event?

These are just a few things that your organization could and should be doing to engage with your audience. They augment your digital strategy and I would argue, if done authentically, will amplify those efforts and lead to greater retention.

So the next time you get ready to send out that email, mail that postcard, or create that social media post, ask yourself if a human touch would have more impact? If the answer is yes, then take the time to add it in. Yes, cultivating an audience is hard work. No technological shortcut will get you there more quickly. Reach out, connect, listen, and learn. A human touch means everything, especially to art forms like yours that are built on experience and emotion. The Boss was right. Your customer craves something to hold on to, and a little of that human touch.

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