Customer Service:
How to Prepare Your Staff for the Frontlines

Today’s guest blog post is written by Hatsumi Yoshida, Assistant Bookkeeper, Patron Technology. 

Prior to making the jump into the arts sector with my role here at PatronManager, I held two different positions in customer service. One as a sales associate/cashier at a famous Times Square retailer, the other as a lead teller at one of the world’s largest commercial banks. My time in these positions really taught me how personalizing your service to the customer you are helping, can make all the difference.

When I began as a sales associate, connecting to customers was an exasperating experience. The clothing store I worked for had over one hundred employees and a high turnover rate, so they put very little time/money into properly training us. Consequently, I had a difficult time conversing with customers and ended up leaving my position after a year.

Unlike my previous job, my first week at the bank was entirely dedicated to training! I remember at my first session, the instructor Joyce said, “We do not need you to be counting tools since there are machines to do that. We want our tellers to build rapport with customers.” She immediately introduced us to the Teller Express, which showed a fake profile of a customer. We were trained how to use the data we collected, such as their birthday or where they were from, as conversation starters. I spent hours practicing different scenarios with Joyce and the other new hires. This practical, hands-on training taught me how to build (and grow) personal relationships on a foundation of trust with my customers.

For example every Thursday, I had a customer named Joseph. He would come into the bank to cash his check from Lincoln Center. Noticing the name of the employer, I said, “Hi Joseph I see here you work for Lincoln Center, what do you do there?” Although Joseph looked like he was having a rough day, he seemed happy to converse with me. He replied, “I work as an engineer for Lincoln Center moving around sets.” We then proceeded to discuss some of the projects he was most proud of such as setting up for The King the I. After I had gathered his money, I handed it off to him and told him I hoped to see him next week. The following week, Joseph came again. This time he was much more animated. He talked about his family and an upcoming international trip he was excited about.

As he divulged more information about his vacation plans to Europe I said, “Hey Joseph since you are going on vacation to Greece, I thought I’d mention that our bank offers a credit card which does not charge you any international fees. Is this something that would be of interest to you?” Joseph looked excited and replied, “I would love to talk to someone to see if I qualify for this card!” I was then able to set him up with a banker who could help him learn more. As with Joseph, I found that my other customers were also much more eager to hear about financial deals that would assist them after I had developed personal relationships with them.

Facts do not sell your products (in your case, tickets, subscriptions, etc…), trust and credibility do. For instance, any banker could sit a customer down and tell them about the interest rates, and bonus points they could get by opening a credit card. However, all the customer will be thinking is “the bank wants me to open a credit card, and put me in debt, they don’t care about me as a person.” On the flip side, a customer who develops a relationship with a banker who knows about their normal spending habits or an upcoming vacation might be much more receptive to a credit card suggestion. 

Great customer service comes with taking the time to properly train your employees. Your workers need to know what cues to look for that will easily allow them to start a conversation. It can be especially helpful to a sales representative if they have a database which contains customer information, which they can easily refer to such as a robust CRM system.  

Once you get the customer talking then you can find the right products (or shows/exhibits) that would be most appropriate for their needs and interests. As long as a patron can tell that you are genuine, you can actually leverage customer service into consumer sales, and perhaps make that person’s day a bit more pleasant as well as your own, if even for just a moment.

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