Customer Service or Hospitality?


© creative soul - Fotolia.comWe have a book club here at Patron Technology that is specifically focused on reading about customer service and improving how we treat our customers. This month we’re reading Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, one of New York’s great restaurateurs and the brains behind the fun and addictive Shake Shack, which is now popping up all over the country.

The book starts with a clear definition of hospitality, which Meyer contrasts with customer service:

Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue — we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.

Providing great service has always been one of the values of our company. When I was the executive director of the American Symphony Orchestra, I was frustrated that those of us who ran non-profits were frequently treated like second-class citizens by nearly every vendor. We got second-tier service because we couldn’t afford to pay top dollar, even though we were trying to create an exceptional product and run a professional organization. That left a big impression on me and I vowed that when I started my own business serving non-profits, we would make customer service a high priority. I wanted to make sure that everyone felt they were treated in a first-class manner. (click to read more...)

From Barcodes to Relationships

CRM & Ticketing, Guest Blogger, Smart Idea!

scanning-a-ticket1Today's guest blog post is written by Daniel Pesick, Associate Product Manager here at Patron Technology.

As a regular theatregoer, I’m pretty used to the routine of entering the theatre. There’s a lot of mundane, logistical stuff that happens between the time I enter the door and when I get to my seat. I open my bag for security, show my ticket to the usher, await the beeping of the fancy barcode scanning machine he’s holding, find the men's room (usually in the basement), and then, finally, make my way to my seat. All of this in service of what’s still a few minutes away: the show. By the time it begins, most of us have forgotten about the barcode scanner and its mysterious beeping sounds. Most of us, that is, except for me.

In the current landscape of patron- or customer-focused organizations, I can’t help wondering if barcode scanning might have applications beyond the mundane. (I’m guessing this has something to do with the hours and hours I’ve spent testing our own barcode scanning technology for PatronManager CRM.) We all know how useful this practice is from a logistical standpoint: House counts and access control are a cinch!

While those functions alone justify the expense of all the needed hardware, it behooves organizations to think outside the box and extend the applications of barcode scanning. Think about how this tedious task can not only provide the security we need, but also make the experience for patrons more magical. (click to read more...)

What's the #1 Reason to Sell Tickets Online?

CRM & Ticketing, Newsletter2

© kbuntu - Fotolia.comWhat’s the #1 reason to sell tickets online? The answer may seem obvious, but most people in our industry get this wrong.

There are certainly many benefits that follow when a patron buys a ticket online. We tend to focus on the operational and customer service benefits: Online ticketing lessens the work at the box office, allows people to buy tickets during off-hours, provides a wider distribution of our tickets to people who might not know our organization well, and puts the customer in control of the entire experience.

But all of that fails to identify the most important benefit, which is all about marketing and fundraising. When you sell online, you collect rich customer information — name, address, email, and sometimes other demographic data.

Let’s be honest: The walk-up customer who pays cash for a ticket is a lost opportunity. You have no way to reach that person after the performance, no way to build a relationship, and no way to assess how interested he or she is in your organization after the fact. Which means you can’t raise money from that patron — ever.

The idealized path for audience development looks something like this: (click to read more...)

Ticketing Lessons From Southwest


© Blend Images - Fotolia.comLast weekend I arrived at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter at 9:30am for a flight at 11. As I hoisted my luggage onto the scale, the ticketing agent said, “We’ve got a flight departing at 9:50; do you want to get on that instead?” I hesitated, thinking it would be a huge hassle to change the flight, but practically before I could say, “Wow, is that really possible?” he handed me a new boarding pass. This interaction got me thinking about how differently Southwest operates from other airlines, and what we might learn from it.

I’m a bit of a student of the airline industry because I believe that, more than any other industry, it offers a useful analogue to the arts and live entertainment field: The value of their product drops to zero the moment the flight takes off, customers are obsessed with where they will sit, and pricing is incredibly complicated by deals and discounts. Those familiar qualities suggest we ought to notice and analyze every innovation that the airlines try out... and Southwest is one of the most innovative.

If you know anything about how Southwest handles reserved seating, you know that basically they just don’t. They line you up at the gate in number order based on when you check in for your flight, and then when you get on the plane, it’s entirely open seating. There are definitely trade-offs for the consumer because you don’t get to know where you’re sitting in advance — however, the upside of this approach revealed itself to me last week. How long and how much effort does it take to switch your seat on another airline? A lot! (click to read more...)

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