Time is often at a premium in box offices, but we all know that there are slow periods when the queues have gone down and the phones have stopped ringing. Whether you’re a box office manager responsible for the smooth running of the whole box office or a box office assistant dealing with the actual selling of tickets, you’re going to have at least a few quiet moments in amongst the busy realities of your day to day jobs. So once the box office has been tidied, leaflets have been restocked and cups of teas have all been made, what else is there to do to fill this sort of period?
Well how about getting everyone involved in some tasks that can really help with the housekeeping of your organization’s database?
Why is this important?
Getting the whole box office team involved with this sort of work provides more benefits than just freeing the box office manager up to do other things. Empowering staff to do good work and understand the value of the data they are collecting or editing is only ever going to help you as a venue to develop and maintain committed, valued staff who are going to do better work for you in future. It’s win-win!
What can I do?
First of all it’s probably worth having a think about when the best times are to get your whole box office team involved. There’s nothing worse than giving staff on busy shifts an extra pile of work to do, so it’s important to make the most of quiet periods when you have them. One thing that might help you here is the Booking Behavior Report, which shows you the peaks and troughs of when customers are booking tickets over the phone or at the counter. If you’re not familiar with this report, give it a look - you can always get in touch with Support if you’ve got any questions about it.
Once you’ve figured out when your quiet moments are, you can then get on with planning some smart ways to make better use of your quiet periods - we’ve come up with a few suggestions, but the possibilities are endless.
1. Clearing up duplicates
Duplicate accounts - the bane of every box office manager’s life. There’s only so much you can do to avoid them, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of checking and clearing up any that do slip through the net. This is exactly the sort of task that box office staff can take ownership of, so get them involved and watch the numbers fall.
There’s a really easy way of identifying potential duplicate accounts, using the handy ‘Potential Duplicate’ metric - it’s almost as though we knew you were going to want this! For Spektrix users learn how to set up a Customer List to look for potential dupes, so the first thing to do is have a read of this and get yourself set up with a list of all the potential dupes that need looking at.
Once you’ve done that, pass the list out around the box office and get everyone to check through maybe ten potential duplicate accounts each day. If you can keep that up you’ll soon see the numbers drop away.
You’ll notice from that article that the next step after going through the whole list of your potential dupes is to schedule this task in on a regular basis. It’s really important not to let the dupes pile up again, so incorporate this task into the regular jobs that need doing around the box office and you’ll be able to keep on top of things really easily. You can automate it so that you don’t need to spend much time on the preparation, so there’s no excuse not to keep on top of your duplicate accounts.
You might even find yourself getting competitive about your data, as a couple of our clients did recently. After finishing a major clean of their data, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, laid down a gauntlet...which was quickly accepted by Hull Truck, East Yorkshire.
Before long it was data pistols at dawn…
2. Simple wealth screening and research
How well do you know your data, in terms of the potential value that your customers have? How many of your customers are regular bookers at top price bands, high spenders, or from wealthy postcodes? The data is all there, so if you don’t already you just need to do a little digging to find it.
You could start by running a few Customer Lists, looking to identify the sort of customer that you’re interested in building relationships with. There are all sorts of different types of customer you might want to identify, such as :
- Customers who over the last twelve months have :
- Purchased tickets over a certain value.
- Purchased multiple top price or premium tickets.
- Customers who live in postcode areas near your venue that you can identify as being high-wealth regions.
The numbers of customers you might end up with will be determined by your pricing structure and event listings, but it’s really easy to run these sorts of Customer Lists in order to get an idea of how your data looks. You can even start combining segments to really narrow down your customers to those with the very highest value. If you’re not sure how to build your Customer Lists, just get in touch with Support who will be happy to help.
Once you have pulled some of that data, you can then ask some of your box office staff to do some additional research on the prospects that you’ve identified. You might want your staff to add tags to any particularly interesting customers, for instance those who are donors to other charities, or sit on the boards of charities or venues, to flag them up for the attention of your development team.
3. Tidying up online signups
Few things look as unprofessional as printing out tickets or sending out letters with customers’ details spelled wrong or poorly capitalized, but it can be hard to make sure your data is always properly inputted, spelled and formatted when you are relying on online customers providing you with their own data. What you can do however is keep an eye on any new accounts being created, and pick up on any mistakes or errors as soon as they’re made.
Using the Scheduled Customer Lists tool, with a Customer List looking for accounts created ‘Yesterday’, you can give box office staff a simple, clear list of all new customer accounts each day. They can then look through each account on the list and check to see if there are any capital letters missing, obvious spelling mistakes or information in the wrong place, and clean them up before anything can go wrong.
4. Categorizing Events with attributes
Using Event Attributes is a handy way to categorize your events, whether you use that categorization to filter Events on your website or for the purposes of reporting on sales for different genres or types of Event. This relies on every Event being properly categorized however, and there’s always the chance that older Events might have different categorizations to what you currently use.
It’s pretty simple to keep on top of your categorization, and the first thing to do is to have a look at the Event Attributes that you’ve got set up (you do categorize your events using Attributes, right?). If you’re not sure about these, read this article on the Support Centre. You can find all of your Attributes in the Settings Interface under Attribute Templates, so check to see which one you’re using for categorizing events then give your staff a list to work through.
You could always build a Sales report looking for Events where the relevant Attribute is blank, which will show your staff where to start looking. You can ask Support for a hand with this if you’re not sure what you need to do - just fill in a report request form on the Spektrix Support Centre.
You can then get your staff to start going through Events in the Admin Interface making sure they’re all properly categorized - this might need a bit of research, but mostly it’ll be pretty obvious. It’s worth looking back through old Events as well as current ones, so that they’re all categorized correctly for any reporting you might need that uses old Events for comparison.
5. Tagging staff, visiting companies and VIPs for standard exclusions
You probably won’t always want to include staff, VIPs, visiting company etc. in offers, mailings and so on, so it’s worth tagging them and setting up a Standard Exclusions Customer Group. You can then use that when building your Offers or Mailings to always exclude those customers.
A few possibilities you might want to have a look at include :
- Creating an Autotag to automatically tag anyone using your work email domain (for instance look for %@spektrix.com using % as a wild card).
- Manually searching for Customers who are using the email domain of each visiting company OR...
- Creating a Customer List for Customers with that domain, then bulk applying a manual tag.
- Asking your staff to make a list of any names they might have in their heads or on their own spreadsheets, as some people may already keep an eye on these things. Get those added into the system as tags.
Once you have a single list of customers that you want to exclude from Mailings, Offers and so on, and you’ve tagged them all with an appropriate tag, you can create a Customer Group based on that tag.
With both your tag and Customer Group set up, you can get your staff to do this every time you get a new visiting company, or schedule it in on a regular basis to take another look at new members of staff and so on.
6. Schools data hygiene
School groups are really valuable as a source of large-volume ticket sales but it’s not always easy to keep on top of how they work and who you talk to at each school. Keeping track of your contacts within individual schools is an ideal task to get box office staff working on.
It’s a good idea to regularly work through your schools data to make sure that it’s up to date with the right teachers set up as contacts on your system. Remember that you can build Relationships onto your system, so that you can assign teachers as ‘Working at’ or ‘Employed by’ their schools.
You might want to create a Customer List that looks specifically for Organizations, maybe including tags or Customer Attributes if you use them, to specifically identify schools. Once again, if you’re not sure how to do this just get in touch with Support who will be able to help you out.
Once you’ve done that you can give that list to your box office staff and ask them to start looking through school websites or making outbound phone enquiries to check whether the teachers you’ve got on your system are still working at the schools you have them linked to. You might want them to identify Head Teachers for each school and add them in as primary contacts, or go through old accounts to identify any teachers who are no longer working at each school and remove their Relationships so that they’re no longer linked with their old schools.
What’s the benefit?
These sorts of tasks are just the tip of the iceberg for what you can do in Spektrix to keep on top of your data, but they’re good examples of the sort of things you can get your box office staff helping you out with.
We would love to hear from you if you have your own examples of this sort of activity, whether you’re an organized box office manager or a busy box office assistant.
What's your advice for making the most of downtime in the ticket office?
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Michael Dodd is a former member of the Spektrix team