Is Your Customer Service “Activated?”
Today’s guest blog post is written by Alyssa Jean, Client Cultivation Specialist, Patron Technology.
Why is it that art has such a profound effect on its viewers almost instantaneously? Museums, cinemas, and theatres all act as catalysts eager to activate patrons in their own unique way. From my time working in professional theatre, I have seen the significant role artists serve as powerful communicators. But one of the most critical lessons I’ve learned is that the effectiveness of that communication does not begin at showtime, but rather with the early implementation of “activated” customer service.
Often times when it comes to training customer service representatives, we focus too much on the “supply-side” of communication (i.e. relaying correct information, appropriate responses, box office policies etc…) and not enough on the “receiving-side,” specifically, listening. It’s obviously crucial for your staff to be knowledgeable and to be able to answer any basic questions that your patrons may have. But what if a more complicated situation arises in which a protocol isn’t already in place? Is your staff equipped to tactfully listen to a patron’s problem and help suggest a creative solution?
As a former theatre House Manager, I came to find that active listening was the most powerful tool I possessed when interacting with patrons. I distinctly remember one night when a concerned family approached me on the closing night of a sold-out show. The family explained to me that they had purchased six tickets to the show and when they arrived, only four tickets were available. The box office was swarming with patrons and as a House Manager, the responsibility then became mine to find seats for this anxious family.
Although the house was completely full, the family pleaded with me to understand their frustration and begged me to help them. I smiled calmly and replied, “I’m going to make sure that you all see this show, is there anything else I can do for you in the meantime?” They all thanked me and repeatedly told me how much this meant to them. I knew that there were no extra seats available but after listening to their circumstance, gauging possible alternatives and working with the rest of the front of house staff at the theatre, I was able to seat them in the designated staff area which provided a successful solution.
This is an example of “activated” customer service. As mentioned earlier, this type of customer service goes hand-in-hand with the utilization of active listening. There are two types of listeners, active and passive. Active listeners make an effort to understand what is being shared with them, while passive listeners tend to hear pieces of a message but do not comprehend it entirely. Activated listening contributes to better communication, but it also leads to more substantial connections, stronger awareness, and the ability to analyze and execute more efficiently.
Your patrons want to know that someone will take the time to understand their point of view, assess their situation, and help provide a solution. In such a highly communicative industry, listening goes far beyond finding a problem and using a methodological approach to solve the equation. Arts organizations are known specifically for their craft and how their artists communicate. If communication is lacking before the curtain goes up, their entire experience may be altered. Effective communication takes work and complete cognizance. So the next time a situation arises, ask yourself:
Are you engaging in “activated” customer service? If not, perhaps it’s time to establish the practice of active listening!