I have been thinking about good customer service lately. Good customer service is one way to establish yourself among our clamoring markets. It is also a good way to show you care about your audience. Good customer service, service with care, is good audience development. The following is a quick list of suggestions to add to your daily life:
2. Go the extra mile and provide all the important information needed up front (as much as you can). If you have people asking you:
a. What is the link?
b. When is it?
c. Where is it?
d. What’s the program?
either they did not read carefully enough or you did not provide the important what, when, who, how for them in a up front, easy to use manner. For example, I was invited to meet at someone’s office and they sent me the details on the date, yet they forgot to give me the address. They probably assumed I would look it up online, but why not provide that information up front in the email? If it is a patron, it is more work on the patron, and some will say “forget it!” if you don’t supply the information needed.
3. Listen to your patrons and be helpful. I don’t know how many times I have been on the phone with a customer service agent and they give me the panned answer “sorry I can’t help you with that” only to find out by calling back later, another agent was able to help me with the same request. The second agent listened to me and was helpful by seeking out more answers when she didn’t know how she could help, and then she was able to help. We no longer can afford to be the “nay sayers” when it comes to servicing our patrons. We need to listen to them and be helpful to their needs and requests.
4. Follow up. If you helped a patron with a problem, you have the opportunity to follow up to make sure you actually did help them. For example, I switched seats for a person that called in since they broke their leg in a car accident. I worked on finding the best seat to make them as comfortable as possible. Then, I called them after the concert to see if the seat worked for them. There was only one change like this, so why not take a moment to call? If you say you are too busy, then you are too busy to have happy and loyal patrons.
Follow up can also mean finding out how they enjoyed a concert. Try this, select a couple of patrons each concert to personally follow up with. In fact, everyone on your “team” can do this. A courtesy service call can go a long way in showing you care about their thoughts and feelings regarding your events and programs.
5. Treat, everyone with the care they are desiring. This means that there are some folks out there that rather not get our mailings, but rather get an email. Or, there might be some people that never want you to call them. If that last example had “do not call” on their profile, I would have attempted to follow up in a different manner. Find out how they prefer to be contacted. You will then be catering their individual wants and needs and how they would like to be cared for.
6. Set a “get back” policy and stick to it. People are falling through the cracks because sometimes we forget to get back to them in a timely fashion. Some businesses state they will return a call within 24 hours. Some are less or more in their choice of window. The point is to let your patrons know what you are capable of doing for them and then do it for them. I have heard complaints from the general public that they have called or emailed, but no one responded back. If you think you don’t have the capacity for this, you are setting yourself up for more decreases rather than increases. People need to feel they are being taken care of. It’s best to adjust so you can treat them well.
7. Be sure to thank them and be grateful for your patrons. It’s time to stop being crabby when patrons call. I have seen some arts orgs that actually feel put out when a patron calls. Maybe sometimes it isn’t convenient for you when they call. The best thing you can do is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are there doing what you are doing because they make it possible. Being grateful to them, thanking them, and being there for them is what service with care is all about.
There are many more ways you can service your patrons with care. If you think of any creative ones, please do reply with a comment.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”