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The Changing Role of the Box Office: Part 2

This is a co-authored piece by TRG Arts and Spektrix. Read Part 1 of the series here

This is the second in a series of two blog posts by TRG and Spektrix, where we examine the role that the box office plays in retaining patrons and providing great service. This series goes beyond discussing ticket sales and focuses on the four key elements of any successful modern box offices; proper data capture, enhancing the customer experience, playing an active role in retaining existing customers, and upgrading customer purchases to increase basket size or organizational investment.

In the last post, we covered the basic actions that will help you lay the foundation for your organization’s new strategies. In this post we’ll cover some more advanced tactics.

Data Capture

  • Make an effort to proactively reach out to customers who have been with your organization for a while and ask them to take a look at their account info and communication preferences. If it’s been over 2 years since they’ve first interacted with you it’s possible they might have a new address, or email. Send them a friendly reminder to update their info to make sure you can keep them in the loop.
  • Also, now that your customers have been receiving communications from you for a while, ask them to update their preferred communication method on their account. It may be that they don’t like receiving as many emails as you send, or are put off by physical mail that they receive. Provide a way to have them update this info in their accounts online and they’ll be much happier for it. Not to mention your campaigns will see a higher ROI as a result.
  • Identify accounts with missing emails or phone numbers and flag those accounts in the system. That way when someone calls or visits the box office your staff will easily be able to prompt the customer for more info.

Experience

  •  In our first post we talked about logging common questions your box office receives. Now that you’ve been logging things for a little while it’s time to take action. Look at the data you’ve collected and set up a way to incorporate that feedback to your organization. Make a goal to set up a meeting with members of your box office and marketing team to talk about how to start tackling the most common questions so that customers are no longer confused. Making this a regular meeting will ensure that you are always keeping queries to a minimum.
  • Tag the accounts of customers who have contacted you with trouble booking online and proactively reach out to them with step by step instructions for how to make future bookings. Automate this message with your ticketing system to save time and cut down on internal communication. You should also consider offering these customers additional time to book ahead of others if their confusion last time led to them not using their priority booking for their membership or subscription. Making sure that your members and subscribers use their benefits is crucial to ensuring they will renew year over year. 

Retention 

  • Find a way to call out lapsed donors on customer records in your CRM system. The box office should ask them to renew their support for the current year at the same or greater level. Create a goal and reward staff for hitting it.
  • Create box office programs to follow up with first-year subscribers or members, even if they’re attending all their performances. This could be an outbound campaign to thank them for renewing and ask them about their experience. The interaction can help strengthen the relationship, as well as identify issues for these first timers which are often statistically more at risk of not renewing.

Upgrading

  • Is there a certain threshold at your organization where someone would save money by subscribing or renewing? Find a way to flag customers in your CRM system who would see money savings from becoming members or subscribers. Then, it becomes an upsell opportunity for box office staff.
  • Can your box office play a role in selling items other than tickets? Some organizations have items like discount drink vouchers, merchandise, or parking passes to sell that can increase revenue and make the customer experience smoother at the same time.
  • Beyond asking for add-on gifts, is your box office an evangelist for the organization’s mission? Informing customers about fundraising goals and educational programs can help patrons see the impact that the organization has as a non-profit institution.

Now it’s up to you

As expected with any change, it will take some time to fully adjust your organization to the shifting needs of your customers, so make sure during this process that you have full transparency about your goals and what is needed to achieve them. It’s important that everybody understand and support those goals and are bought into them. That way everyone on your staff actively works to achieve them.

It’s also not a bad idea to consider setting up rewards for your box office as they reach pre-determined targets surrounding data capture, rate of customer retention, and additional revenue from upgrading.

Ultimately, it’s to your organization’s advantage to start re-shaping the way your box office interacts with your customers and your internal staff. Today’s market has evolved from what it was five or ten years ago, but the box office still has a place in today’s organizations, and it’s up to you to use your box office to make the most of your customer relationships.

We've made this handy infographic which you can share with your sales, marketing and development teams to help you implement change across all of your organization's departments. Print it out, stick it up and put those strategies into practice!

TRG Arts is a consulting firm with a focus on getting results for clients in the non-profit arts industry. Today, TRG helps clients grow revenue and patronage in the United States, Canada and the UK. TRG works with dance, opera and theatre companies, museums, performing arts centers, orchestras, festivals and commercial entertainment organizations.

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