Michael: Before all the Box Office teams reading this recoil at the idea of being a “salesperson”, we’re here to tell you that Sales isn’t a dirty word. We like to think of Sales in the arts as a two way relationship; it’s about finding out what your customers want and delivering it with great customer service. The box office shouldn’t be just transactional. Letting your Box Office Team (or Sales Team) take ownership of the customer purchase experience can make a huge difference to the way your audience perceives your organisation and while the idea of the ‘box office’ as a physical place will likely always be around, the roles within it should be changing.
At Sheffield Theatres, Caroline Laurent is the Sales & Customer Care Manager, leading the team there. She gave us an insight into their box office approach and how setting achievable targets and streamlining all customer interactions can boost sales and create a more successful working environment.
The Sales team at Sheffield Theatres
Caroline: Our Sales team are a wonderful, vital part of the organisation, and in many cases the first point of audience contact. The entire box office team is a ‘Sales’ team and their job titles are as such. Our Sales Supervisors and Sales Assistants not only sell tickets for shows, they cross sell and upsell opportunities to customers in order to enhance the experience.
We’ve worked with our team over a period of time to ensure they have an understanding of what their role means. All interactions with customers are the key to our success – whether it’s a telephone or email enquiry, or someone dropping by for a more personal over the counter service. Here’s how this change of mindset has made a difference for us.
We’ve improved our customer relationships
Our team are there to listen to what each individual customer would like and we do our best to deliver that, and more. If a customer is unsure about where the best seats would be for their family members, where possible we’ll take them into an auditorium and discuss the best options. This is important to us as we’re not simply in the box office to sell a ticket and move on. The customer experience is important from start to finish, and we want our customers to trust us, have confidence in us, and have the best time when they visit us.
Our Sales team will offer programmes for shows that they are selling and if a customer is buying a ticket for a future show, they will be given a voucher that they can exchange for a programme on the day of the performance. This not only guarantees customers a programme, but also supports our Front of House and Communications team when planning programme orders. We also offer pre-show dinners, which again are offered to customers at the time of booking, and over the last 6 months of being ‘live’ on Spektrix we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of customers taking advantage of these extra opportunities.
We’re supporting the wider business
Our team is also responsible for supporting other areas of the business, such as Fundraising. The Sales team ask customers if they’d like to make a donation to support the work of Sheffield Theatres, which can be a daunting prospect, but we work with the team to better understand any concerns around the ‘ask’. We also gather feedback from them about how our customers react when they’re asked to donate.
We have a monthly meeting with our Sales team where members of the Communications and Fundraising teams come and share objectives. It’s really important for us to understand the impact of each other’s roles and we take this opportunity to learn from each other. It’s in these meetings that we set our targets together, and each time we’re blown away by the targets the Sales team come up with as they are beyond what we had considered. We want to be sure that we’re setting realistic targets, and we work hard to achieve them by talking about our success so far. Very importantly, when we reach a target we celebrate success as a team.
We’re streamlining the customer experience
Everything we offer is available through the box office and online, and we work hard to ensure that the level of service customers receive from our Sales team at the box office is replicated online (and vice versa). We want you to be able to access all these opportunities whether you book at 11am (via box office) or at 3am (online).
Our team understands what it means to Sheffield Theatres to not only sell a ticket, but to sell a programme, offer a pre-show dinner package and achieve a donation to support the work we produce on and off stage – and they do this all with our customers’ best interests at heart. We’re here to provide a wonderful experience, and we want our customers to feel welcome every time they visit their theatre.