Audience Development and Old Fashioned Customer Service

Remember the days when you had to go to the box office to purchase a ticket and speak to a person that was a part of the organization?  Or remember purchasing art from the artist directly instead of online at Etsy?

I’m not knocking the new services that we have that provide a quick and easy way to purchase art and tickets to an event, however, this new speedy technology that is convenient for both sides of the equation has rid us of face-to-face, one-on-one, old fashioned customer service.

Patrons, your audience members, are falling through the cracks of our convenient technology.  You might say that social media will come to the rescue, a modern, convenient way to reach out to our audience and get to know them.  However, after reading a museum survey (500 people surveyed) with the report stating  that 80% of the people did not know their museum was involved in social media, I’m not so sure social media is the magic that will solve the problem if your audience doesn’t know about your social media.  This means that the technology solution attempting to save the day and connect us back with people will only work if the knowledge is there.

Old fashioned customer services brings us back to the days of people interaction where we get to know our patrons and they get to know us.  Think of the door to door salesmen having conversations with existing and potential customers.  Think of the days you chatted with your patrons over the phone while taking their ticket order.  There was a time and place where we were building relationships via the old fashioned way of handling a sale or transaction.

So what can we do to put the “old fashioned” back into our modern day customer service?  I would highly recommend finding ways that you can interact one-on-one with your patrons again.  Even if this means simply following up with a friendly individual email or phone call. You can use this time to thank them and ask them about their experience at the event or about their purchase.  This small way of getting in touch personally can make a world of difference.

For example, back in the day, I was a box office manager and part of the staff for placing orders.  When people came in to purchase tickets, I would make sure to “shoot the breeze” with them.  In one instance, I found out that the subscriber patron I was placing the order for was having his grandkids into town over Thanksgiving weekend.  I casually glanced at their subscription and saw that they did not have tickets to our Nutcracker performances over the holidays.  I suggested to them that we had a family pack for the Nutcracker so they could take their grandchildren.  I ended up selling them those tickets on top of their regular purchase!

Aside from upselling or reselling, old fashioned customer service can help out it ways to obtain patrons, donors, attendees at your special events and receptions, and perhaps by getting further contacts to help you and/or your organization.    Old fashioned customer service is one of the best audience development techniques.  It’s amazing what you can discover when you take the time to get to know your audience and what can happen as a result of forming strong relationships with them.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”

~James Stewart

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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