Defining Your Customer Service Culture
Before It Defines You
Today’s guest blog post is written by Gary Lustig, Principal of LusTicks Consulting. Gary has been in the ticketing industry for over three decades, most recently as Vice President of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
– Gene Carr, Founder
Over 30+ years since we have seen the evolution from a physical box office being the primary sales outlet, to a multi-channel distribution network that includes the traditional “in-person” venue box office, mail-order, fax, telephone, web, social media and third-party partnerships with companies like Goldstar.
As the number of channels have grown, patron expectations have grown as well. While the web (mobile & desktop) is now the primary tool to “transact” a ticket sale, patrons expect to choose how they interact with your organization. Meeting customer’s service needs requires a well-thought-out and integrated approach to technology, marketing, policy-making and staff hiring and training.
According to research from Accenture, 45% of consumers will pay more for products and services that provide a higher level of customer service. This very much includes the “product” of arts and culture. This article will help you understand the importance of assessing your current service culture and learn ways to ensure that your technology, people, and company practices are best aligned to help you attract and retain patrons and drive revenue in today’s increasingly competitive bid for consumer’s entertainment dollars.
We will explore four broad categories to consider when thinking about your organization’s customer service: Mission & Culture; Metrics; Obstacles and Empowerment.
Mission & Culture – Does your organization have a clearly defined “Customer Service Mission?” No organization consciously strives to deliver poor service or have a negative service culture. However, if you haven’t clearly defined your organization’s customer service mission, a service culture will develop by default, and it may not be the one you think it is or want. Without clear direction from top management all the way to the front-lines, your front-line service providers are left without guidance in dealing with service issues that naturally arise. Every organization should have a well thought out and clearly communicated service mission that is backed by its entire management team and becomes a part of all organization decision-making. Great service is an institutional imperative, not just something for the front-line staff.
Metrics – In order to assess your current service culture and identify areas for improvement, you must have a system of on-going metrics. Metrics can be as simple as management reviews of customer comments recorded in your CRM system or conducting staff interviews to more complex measurements like on-going patron surveys and secret shopper assessments. The key takeaway is that various metrics can help you gauge the level of service you are providing and make changes based on actual data.
Obstacles – When examining metrics, you can discover what obstacles your organization has created to providing memorable customer service. These obstacles can be technology or policy related. For example, if the most visited page on your website is your venue seating chart, have you made it easily accessible from your home page? Does your organization set policies which require front-line staff to get management permission to make exceptions instead of enabling them to solve customer problems in the moment? Service obstacles can be found in all parts of your organization including marketing, finance, artistic and development.
Empowerment – Empowerment is truly the key to creating memorable service experiences. Providing front-line staff with the freedom to solve problems or create positive and memorable experiences will build a loyal and vocal patron base. There may be an initial financial cost to this type of empowerment, and every organization should budget for it. However, a properly trained and empowered front-line provider can personally create a positive image for your organization hundreds of times a week. Patrons receiving this type of service are likely to share their positive experience with others, return more frequently and spend more money. Ultimately the added revenue will far surpass the “cost” of providing this type of service.
According to a ZenDesk survey in 2013, 42% of customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. All organizations should be focused on creating a culture of service excellence. Successfully doing so will add to your bottom line and enhance your reputation in your community.