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How Behavioural Science Improves Customer Loyalty – 3 Examples from the Arts

At Spektrix Conference 2018, Martin Gammeltoft, VP Commercial Operations at Activity Stream, showed how arts organisations can take “the wow factor” of live performance, and translate that off-stage and directly to the customer. Working with live entertainment organisations across the world, Martin understands how arts organisations can successfully use behavioural science to create memorable nights out, drive loyalty, and improve in-venue customer experience.

Why do most bands close a concert with their greatest hit? Or, why do you often remember moments that had an emotional impact on you, but not the day-to-day?

The answers are related to behavioural science – a theoretical framework arts professionals can learn a lot from. These learnings can play a huge role in the development of strategy, pricing structures, and of course, customer experience.  

In this blog, I’ll explain how arts organisations can improve customer experience and loyalty, through behavioural science, but first - a bit of theory.

Peak-end rule

One of the key elements you need to know, when talking about behavioral science, is the ‘peak-end rule’. The ‘peak-end rule’ dictates, that we don’t remember an event in its entirety, instead our minds focus on snapshots of the peak and the end. In other words: we tend to only remember the most (emotionally) intense points of the experience, and the overall feeling we’re left with at the end.

Even though most bands are probably unaware of this theory, the peak-end rule often explains why most bands end a concert performing their greatest hit as it will form the lasting memory of the concert.

Breaking the Script

Another key concept worth knowing, is ‘breaking the script’. This is useful when setting up peaks, because only by breaking the expected pattern of an experience, can you effectively move and excite an audience.

You probably already know about ‘breaking the script’, intuitively, but let’s look at it in practice. Imagine you expect to receive a bunch of flowers every Wednesday – soon, it becomes a part of everyday life and has less of an emotional affect on you. However, if you are given flowers as a surprise, the feeling is much more spontaneous, unexpected and intense - in that moment you feel more special, valued, and appreciated.  

Similarly, you ’ll remember a concert when the artist suddenly jumps into the crowd, or a play where the actor suddenly breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the audience – or falls off stage… As we see, “breaking the script” and playing with convention in positive and unexpected ways can disrupt audience expectations and improve their experience (and memory) of that moment.

Using Behavioural Science to Improve Customer Experience

So, how can arts professionals break the script to improve customer experience? Well, just like a performer, you can choreograph ways to break the script in your organisation.

Look at your customer journey and see if you can design moments where you can break the pattern of expectation or convention. It might be someone from the cast welcoming patrons when they arrive, it could be a handwritten note on the patron’s seat, or it might be a powerful closing remark from the director. You can probably come up with some great ideas that are in line with the DNA of your venue or production that will surprise and delight your patrons.

Let’s look at 3 examples from arts organisations that have generated impressive results:

  1. New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich has been working on creating moments in order to upgrade selected customers when they arrive - read their story here. They’ve focussed on first-time visitors and celebrating the special occasions that were noted when the tickets were purchased. The initiative has been part of a major, strategic effort, and the effect has made waves with customers – from social media postings to personalized thank-you letters.
  2. Center Theatre Group noticed that some of their customers were coming to see a production for the second or even third time. Therefore, they decided to bring their customer experience for repeat visitors to the next level. Their efforts to “surprise and delight” has had significant results. You can read the full story here.
  3. Stavanger Konserthus in Norway used Activity Stream to be notified that a very loyal customer was attending an event on the night of her birthday. In order to improve the customer experience, they decided to make her birthday a very special night.

These are just a few examples of arts organisations working methodically to set up customer moments and build strong customer relationships. The value of a customer moment can both be direct and indirect, and they can also have a positive effect motivating your teams, as customer moments create a personal connection between your employees and patrons.

So, think about how you can create special moments, or make the end of a customer's night a memorable one – New Wolsey do this by keeping their bar open and have the cast mingle with audience goers.

Interested in learning more about behavioural science and customer moments? Here are a few recommended reads:

Activity Stream is a young company founded in 2015. We strongly believe in our vision ‘to make data work for you’, which is why we named our company after our core competency. Our solutions are purpose-built for Live Entertainment & Sports connecting data across silos and turning data into dashboards, tools, and observations for full comprehensive overviews of the activity stream of your business. Please feel free to contact us for a free demo at