From Barcodes to Relationships
As a regular theatregoer, I’m pretty used to the routine of entering the theatre. There’s a lot of mundane, logistical stuff that happens between the time I enter the door and when I get to my seat. I open my bag for security, show my ticket to the usher, await the beeping of the fancy barcode scanning machine he’s holding, find the men’s room (usually in the basement), and then, finally, make my way to my seat. All of this in service of what’s still a few minutes away: the show. By the time it begins, most of us have forgotten about the barcode scanner and its mysterious beeping sounds. Most of us, that is, except for me.
In the current landscape of patron- or customer-focused organizations, I can’t help wondering if barcode scanning might have applications beyond the mundane. (I’m guessing this has something to do with the hours and hours I’ve spent testing our own barcode scanning technology for PatronManager CRM.) We all know how useful this practice is from a logistical standpoint: House counts and access control are a cinch!
While those functions alone justify the expense of all the needed hardware, it behooves organizations to think outside the box and extend the applications of barcode scanning. Think about how this tedious task can not only provide the security we need, but also make the experience for patrons more magical.
First and foremost, scans must be uploaded back to your database in real time. This is a baseline requirement for any newly implemented barcode scanning program. I believe it’s imperative to know not only your patrons’ purchase history, but also their attendance history — and quickly. Sending a post-show email to your patrons is an excellent step toward building relationships, but you undo all that good will if you thank a patron for attending your event and ask for his opinions if he wasn’t actually there.
Here’s another example: You can offer discount codes based on attendance. If you see that you have seats available for upcoming performances, offer a discount code to patrons who didn’t attend. Just because you have a no-refund policy doesn’t mean you need to make enemies! Alternatively, reach out to your patrons who did attend by offering a discount to return for a second performance. You’ve got seats to fill, and they liked your show enough to come back…it’s a perfect solution!
Monitoring real-time barcode scans can help you identify problem areas in your venue. You can easily determine which doors are the most used and eliminate backlogs by positioning more ushers there. You can also monitor trends indicating what time patrons arrive at the venue. Does this change based on the type of performance?
And here’s where you can truly create a magical experience by providing unparalleled customer service — particularly to your most valuable patrons. If the president of your board enters the building, wouldn’t it be great for your development director to receive a real-time notification on her smartphone? If you have a group of high-level donors who all have access to free drinks in the lounge, wouldn’t it be great for your bartender to receive a notification to make their favorite drinks the second they arrive? What other ideas can you come up with?
By using barcode scanning to create a more exceptional experience for your patrons through more direct marketing and a little ingenuity, you can elevate barcode scanning from humdrum to extraordinary.
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